Coops are a wonderful thing. They house your flock, protect them, and shelter them in bad weather. However, they're also very confusing. There's different sizes, shapes, and styles. Some work better for others, but the perfect one is out there.
You'll want to consider five different things when building or buying a coop:
Size: How many birds do you want to keep? 5? 40? 200? Remember chicken math, too. Many styles of coops are cute and beautiful, but not so suitable for a small backyard flock. Birds need four square feet of space per bird, and enough ventilation to protect against frostbite or overheating.
Type: What type of coop do you want? Do you want it to match your house? Also, what type of birds do you have? Ducks and geese have different requirements than chickens and turkeys do, and many people keep quail without a run area. If you have more than one type of bird, sometimes modifying a coop or building/buying two makes more sense.
Safety: Will your birds be safe? Use hardware cloth instead of chicken wire to assure their safety. For big runs, welded wire fence or deer fence works well. Consider the predators in your area. Things like weasels, dogs, cats, mongooses, rats, coyotes, foxes, skunks, raccoons, hawks, owls, dingoes, and other animals may be an issue,
Climate: Climates are a big factor when buying or building. If you live somewhere where it gets below -4 degrees F (-20 degrees C), you'll want to look at insulating your coop. If you live somewhere hot, you should consider a three-sided coop, or a coop with only two walls.
Health: Many birds fall ill and die because of a faulty coop. When considering a coop, or building one you need to ensure that your birds have adequate ventilation, roosts, nest boxes, and a run area. You also need to consider your ability to clean it, collect eggs, and check birds on a daily basis. Many people build or buy what they consider to be a "nifty" coop, only to find they should have made sure they could walk into it if need be.
To Build, Or To Buy
Both have their advantages, but both have their faults.
Many people buy a coop or build a coop only to find they either want more chickens, or they don't like chickens.
For this reason, no matter what you decide, make sure it's not too big or too small. A 10 chicken size coop is usually adequate (40 square feet). Also make sure that you use common sense, and ensure that your birds' needs will be satisfied.
Many people who are long-term invested in poultry build their own coop, allowing them to match it to their house. However, although building allows a custom design, material cost can add up. Expect to spend $50 to $1000. The creative builder can save a lot of money by using construction company's scrap supplies, reducing the cost to almost nothing. When building your own coop, you can be ensured that it is suitable, healthy, climate suitable, and sturdy.
Some people who aren't yet sure about poultry buy their first coop. Although buying a coop is often cheaper and quicker, it can be a bit of a gamble. Many coops that people buy don't have enough ventilation or space, and people find they aren't as sturdy as a home-made coop. However, there are many options out there, allowing people to buy what they think is best. They are often cheaper, at $200-$500 dollars. Many sturdier options available at the local construction or feed store are around $1000-$1500.
When considering whether to build or buy, think of your budget. If you have a higher budget, building your own coop may be for you. If you are short-term invested in poultry, buying a small coop can be a way to "try out" poultry. If you have quail or ducks, often pre-made coops are suitable, whereas if you have geese, turkeys, or even chickens, pre-made coops are less suitable.
Many different poultry types have different requirements. Chickens, turkeys, and guinea fowl all need a roost, while ducks, geese, and quail don't. Quail only need 1 to 2 square feet of space per bird, while pheasants often need 10 square feet per bird in the coop.
Chickens: Chickens are fairly adaptable creatures. However, some do well in captivity and some don't. This must be considered when building your coop. As a rule of thumb, chicken need 4 square feet of space per bird in the coop, and 10 square feet of space per bird in the run. Here is a great thread on what people use for their chickens. (https://www.backyardchickens.com/threads/coop-and-run-size-requirements.568533)
Ducks: Ducks are very low-maintenance (yet still high-maintenance) birds. They don't need a roost, only nesting boxes and adequate room and ventilation. They are very wet though, so you may want to hose down their coop often. They need about the same space as chickens. Here is a great thread on duck housing. (https://www.backyardchickens.com/threads/building-a-duck-house.954157/)
Geese: Geese are larger than ducks, and slightly less wet. They require a bit more space than ducks, and some don't ever use coops. Here is a good thread on keeping geese in a coop. (https://www.backyardchickens.com/threads/goose-housing.800317/)
Turkeys: Many turkeys are kept in a coop, while others blatantly refuse to go inside at night. They tend to like roosting outside, so many people keep them in a shed-type shelter. They are larger than chickens and require more space than geese. Here is a good threat on housing turkeys. (https://www.backyardchickens.com/threads/turkey-roost-shelter-coop-help.856818/)
Guinea Fowl: Guinea fowl are much like mini turkeys, but many people have success sheltering them with their chickens. They require about the same space as chickens, although they love to fly. Here is a good thread on guinea fowl housing. (https://www.backyardchickens.com/threads/guinea-housing-coop-gallery.1178193/)
Peafowl: Peafowl are ornamental birds, and while many people give them special housing, they can be kept in a chicken coop if provided with a perch, however, they require a lot bigger room. Here is a good thread on peafowl shelters. (https://www.backyardchickens.com/threads/peafowl-102-advanced-housing-and-accessories.394024/)
Quail: Quail are very easy keepers, requiring minimal space and only a dust pan and area to shelter from the wind. They only require 1-2 square feet of space per bird (Coturnix, anyways), making them ideal for the backyard poultry owner. Here is a good thread on keeping quail and quail coops people use. (https://www.backyardchickens.com/threads/quail-pens-housing.197499/)
Game Birds: Other game birds require a lot of space and a more natural environment. Here is a good thread on keeping pheasants happy. (https://www.backyardchickens.com/threads/pictures-of-pheasant-housing-run.228628/)
All of these things must be taken into requirement when building or buying your coop. If you want to keep a mixed flock, that might be something else to consider. Here is an article on mixed flock housing. (https://www.backyardchickens.com/ar...ltry-types-living-together-in-one-coop.64527/)
Different Coop Types
Hopefully by now you have an idea of what kind of coop you need and whether you want to build it or to buy it. Now, it's time to decide on the style and the design.
Hoop: Hoop coops are a popular trend overtaking the poultry world. They are cheap, easy, and often suitable for hot climates. Many people are using them. Here is a great thread on hoop coop pros and cons. (https://www.backyardchickens.com/threads/hoop-coop-pros-and-cons.1154750/)
Tractor: Tractor coops are great for small, backyard flocks. They allow for rotation grazing and many people have made them into all-season tractors that can be predator-safe. Chickens, ducks, and quail especially do good in tractor coops. Here is a great collection of chicken tractors. (https://www.backyardchickens.com/articles/chicken-tractors-mobile-chicken-coop-designs.47734/)
Raised: Raised chicken coops are popular for small flocks of 5-10 chickens. They also work well for ducks. Here is a good thread about raised coops. (https://www.backyardchickens.com/threads/does-anyone-have-raised-chicken-coops.596669/)
Shed: Shed coops are often very beautiful and suitable for large flocks, as well as mixed flocks. Many people keep all kinds of poultry in these successfully, and some convert sheds to coops for a very small sum of money. Here is a great shed coop and run. (https://www.backyardchickens.com/articles/our-garden-shed-chicken-coop.48234/)
Hutch: Hutch style coops are often suitable for small flocks or quail, and are good for keeping breeding pairs or trios. Here is a good discussion on converting a rabbit hutch into a chicken coop. (https://www.backyardchickens.com/th...-a-chicken-coop-updated-with-pictures.535464/)
Battery: Battery coops are not suggested for a backyard flock. They are more suitable for quail and many people use them for quail. Here is a good idea on battery cages for quail. (https://www.backyardchickens.com/threads/diy-quail-battery-cages.160295/)
Hopefully by now you have a good idea of what you want to use for a coop, and whether you want to build or buy. Head on over to the Learning Centre to learn more about what housing your birds need!