The design of the coop and run for your chickens is an important aspect of your project. Keep in mind that coops and runs need to be made well to withstand the elements, as we have discussed, keep predators out and have sufficient ventilation. It is quite useful to write a list of answers to the following questions and have them as a tick box when looking for the right coop design.

  1. Are there any local regulations about keeping and housing chickens? If so, what are they?
  2. How many chickens are you going to keep ?
  3. Whether you are going to have them as pets, to supply you with eggs or are you going to breed them
  4. The budget for your project and what percentage you want to spend on the coop and run
  5. The space you have available on your land for the coop and run
  6. Whether you want to have a static or mobile coop and run
  7. The hardest weather conditions that your chickens will need to contend with during a year
  8. The types of predators that you have in your area

Next you need to decide which one of the four general styles you prefer. They are:

  • A-frame – these tend to be the smallest types of coops and use the minimum amount of materials. They are space saving and mostly for new chicken keepers who want to have a few birds. The shelter is attached to a protected run in a long, triangular structure
  • Tractor – called as such because it can be moved to different locations. Tractors have open floors at the bottom so that the chickens can “work” the ground that the tractor framed coop and run is positioned. Tractor structures can be moved fairly easily as they are often on wheels or have skids for easy sliding
  • All in one – features include a small shelter for a medium sized flock and they have a run under a single roof. There is a door large enough for you to enter but remains small enough for easy relocation
  • Walk in – tend to be prefabricated sheds or playhouses. A walk in coop and run is large enough to allow you to walk into for maintenance. Many of these types of coops have adjacent runs

The next stage is for you to decide whether you are going to build your own chicken coop from scratch, buy a DIY kit, or adapt another type of building or purchase one that has already been built and place in your property. Unless your chickens are going to be totally free-range, you need to include a run as part of your plans. As a general rule of thumb, allocate 8 to 10 square feet per chicken in the run. This gives them enough space to stretch their wings and flap about, take refuge from severe weather without having to go back into their coop. A practical idea with runs is to have a coop that is raised with the area under the coop forming an integral part of the run. Off course predator proofing the run to a high standard like the coop is essential.

Some of the most popular chicken coop designs are illustrated below with an image and key layout aspects.

Chicken Coop Plans

Starter Coop

Chichen Coop "Starter Coop"

  • All in one style
  • Self-contained coop and run
  • Dimensions of 86'' x 30'' x 41'' will house 4 chickens
  • Has a waterproof composite roof
  • A nest box lid that lifts (it also has a waterproof composite roof)
  • Dual roost box inside the living area
  • Access door on the front for cleaning
  • Fine coated chicken wire to keep predators out
  • Open bottom allowing for natural grazing and scratch
  • Slotted wood floor for your chickens comfort
  • 8 inch wide ramp with runners
  • Security door to help clean and move coop

Chicken Tractor Coop

Chicken Coop Plan - Chicken Tractor Coop

  • Tractor style as indicated by the name
  • A self-contained coop and run
  • Dimensions 73'' x 46'' x 54.5 will house a maximum of 6 chickens
  • It has a waterproof roofs
  • Nest box lid on the outside for easy removal of the eggs
  • Four sturdy handles to allow two people to move it fairly easily
  • Dual roost box inside the living area
  • Access door on the backside of the coop for easy cleaning
  • Fine coated chicken wire to be predator safe
  • Open bottom to allow for you birds comfort
  • 8 inch wide ramp with runners
  • Security door to help clean and move the coop

Mobile Tractor Chicken Coop

Mobile Tractor Chicken Coop

  • Tractor style as indicated by the name
  • Dimensions of 5.5 foot x 4.2 foot x 3.8 foot will house a maximum of 4 chickens
  • Swing door for easy access
  • Swing door for easy access
  • Handles to move the coop and rum
  • Self-contained nesting box
  • Run has fine chicken wire to keep predators out

“Green” Garden Coop

“Green” Garden Coop

  • A-frame style
  • A 10 foot long x 3 foot wide and 4 foot height coop would accommodate 4 chickens
  • Has the unique feature of a "green" roof which you can plant with herbs or other garden produce/plants
  • Sliding door on the inside of the coop and through a hinged door on the outside for access
  • Top of the coop lifts off for easy collection of eggs
  • Fits in easily into small urban settings

8 Foot X 8-Foot Coop and Run

8 Foot X 8-Foot Coop and Run

  • All in one style
  • Self-contained coop and run
  • Houses a maximum of 10 chickens
  • Designed for allow for for maximum ventilation
  • External egg collection
  • Pitched roof
  • Full height door to allow you to access the coop and run

4 Foot X 8-Foot Coop and Run

4 Foot X 8-Foot Coop and Run

  • The small version of the 8-foot x 8 foot coop and run, above. This one houses a maximum of 5 chickens

Free-Range Coop

Free-Range Coop

  • All in one style
  • Self-contained of 86'' x 30'' x 41'' will house 4 chickens
  • Has a waterproof composite roof
  • A nest box lid that lifts (it also has a waterproof composite roof)
  • Dual roost box inside the living area
  • Access door on the front for cleaning
  • Dine coated chicken wire to keep predators out
  • Open bottom allowing for your chickens comfort
  • 8 inch wide ramp with runners
  • Security door to help clean and move the coop

Chicken Ark

Chicken Ark

  • A frame style
  • Self-contained coop and run
  • Design first originated in Europe
  • Rustic appearance
  • Lid lifts for easy cleaning and egg collection
  • Has sturdy handles for moving

Chicken Hous

Chicken Hous

  • Walk in style
  • Self-contained coop and run
  • Comes in a variety of sizes and can be built to house the number of birds that you choose to keep (using the formula already outlined)
  • Removable nest boxes for cleaning
  • Egg collection from the outside
  • Door that is large enough for you to walk through for cleaning
  • Is raised off the ground for safety from predators
  • Excellent ventilation
  • 2 sliding windows for light to encourage egg laying
  • Predator proof screens
  • Can be placed against existing wall/fences if desired

Once you have decided on which coop suits your needs, you need to decide whether you are going to build it yourself, buy the DIY kit, buy the coop off the shelf or adapt another building.

Designing and Building the Coop Yourself

Whatever design you choose, this will take time planning and sourcing the materials plus carpentry skills. There is also your time in the process. However, it will be very rewarding to know that the construction is yours and you know all the details relating to the coop and run. Later in this eBook, the basic carpentry skills you will need to design and build your own coop will be outlined.

Purchasing the DIY Kit with Plans

This is a very popular option that many chicken keepers are choosing. On-line is a popular and easy way of sourcing DIY kits with plans. The way it works is that you choose the type of design that you would like to have for your chickens from the vast array available through on-line stores. You buy the design with detailed instructions on the materials that you will need their size and the process of building the coop. The kits will even tell you the tools you will need to complete the job with full step-by-step illustrations. When purchasing a DIY kit with plans bear in mind that you have the cost of the materials and there will be a shopping list for you to help in purchasing exactly what you need. A fairly good rule of thumb for the cost of a project is “a third, a third and a third” (the cost of the DIY kit will be a third, the materials will cost a third and your time will cost a third).

Buying Off the Shelf

If you don’t have much time, you have a reasonable budget and/or your carpentry/DIY skills are limited then buying an off the shelf chicken coop and run is an option. There are many pet stores that sell them, on-line is another popular option and if you really have the budget, you could commission one to be built for you.

When buying off the shelf, the layout inside the coop is predestined for you so your choices are limited. However, you can always add onto your bought coop and run at a later date. Another very popular option is to buy a shed or a playhouse and adapt this inside for your coop and run. This way, the difficult aspect of carpentry is taken off and you can buy the kit and accessories to deck the inside of the coop and run. If you decide to recycle an existing shed or playhouse, then do make sure that that nothing toxic was used to paint them. Sanitise it well before converting the inside as a chicken coop.