Can you recommend a good coop design/building book?


9 Years
Mar 6, 2011
Hello. We are brand new to all of this and are working on designing our coop and runs before we get our hens. What is your favorite coop design book? While I would like to see some designs that are "how to" oriented, I also really want a book that will help my DH and I to know what we should be thinking about as we design it and explain what chickens like and need in a coop. For example, how far should one roosting pole be from another, where do they like their nesting boxes to be, how do I ensure that they are not too hot or too cold, what is the best way to design it so it is easy to maintain, etc. I would like a book that will answer these, as well as anything else that I may not even be able to think of at this point.

Random question: Ok, I feel like this question is going to sound stupid or that I might even be accused of being a troll (which I am not. I am just totally chicken ignorant) but I have to ask. I read on another person's question that chickens like to roost as high as they can. Someone told me that chickens can't fly though. So how do they get up to their roost? When you build the coop do you have to build something that they can climb up to get to their roost?

Thank you,
Honestly your best resource is just browsing this forum, the coop design pages (see link higher up on this page) and peoples' threads about their coops and their personal pages. It is a VAST trove of information, some of it more um reliably-relevant to your situation than others of course but there is just so MUCH information that you can weed out the good ideas from the bad ideas reasonably well I think.

If you want a book on building smallish coops, your best bet is probably the building chicken coops for dummies book (authored by the BYC site owner, but also a good book

If you want a book on building larger walk-in size (shed type) coops, your best bet is to use library or bookstore or Amazon to get one of the many, many books on building a SHED. There are lots of them that have detailed plans and extremely step-by-step everything-explained-and-photographed documentation of the process. Just add more ventilation, a roost and nestboxes, popdoor, and there ya go, it's a great coop

P.S. -- chickens CAN TOO fly
(well, not silkies which lack 'real' feathers and not broiler chickens which are like the sumo wrestlers of the chicken world; but all normal chickens). They won't be soaring like eagles but they can fly real fine up to 10' or often higher. Also they hop or hop/flap quite well up to at least 3-4'. Also also, they do not necessarily get to high places in one single trip (especially in a small area like a coop), they can go up to an intermediate height place and then re-launch to a higher roost.

Good luck, have fun,

Welcome to the forum!

I think you're approaching this just the right way, actually. Many people just dive in, build or buy their coop, and only then begin to figure out what chickens are actually like after they get some.

It took me three tries to get my coop "just right" but that's not going to be the same thing for everyone. Different breeds of chickens, different climates, and perhaps most importantly, different styles of chicken keeping will affect coop design. If you like to take a look at my BYC page, you can see the progression of coop styles I've gone through (and day tractors, too).

I was fortunate in that I got our original five chicks from a very experienced poultry keeping neighbor in our area. Over more than 25 years of chicken keeping, he had already tried out different breeds and weeded out the ones that tend to be difficult to keep in our area. I had originally thought to buy three chicks from MyPetChicken, different breeds of standards, and have them shipped to me through the mail. Instead, I ended up driving 15 minutes to my friend's house and picking up 5 newly hatched bantam "mutts," who did not have to go through the stress of shipping, and were very sturdy, healthy stock.

Now I can't imagine keeping any other kind of chickens! We adore our bantams. Last spring, we let them hatch out their own chicks (as well as some Belgian d"Uccle hatching eggs), so we eventually added six more pullets to our little flock. They all have names, we know their individual personalities, and I feel like a chicken grandma.

One advantage to browsing here as compared to buying a book is that you can ask folks why they picked a particular feature and how well it's working out. Lots of people start with the idea of a wire floor in the coop but discard it once they realize how much poop ends up crusted on the wire, rather than falls through. Other people don't mind poo crusted wire as long as most or some ends up going through. See? Different people like different approaches.

I like to use plastic boot trays under the roost so that I can easily dump out the droppings into our composter every morning (chickens poop all night as they sleep, so there's a nice pile of poo in a line under the roost every morning). I like to clean up for a few minutes daily rather than face a big coop cleaning once or twice a year, as the folks who use the deep litter method do. To each, his or her own!

One thing I would highly recommend is reading Patandchickens' ventilation page (link below her signature, in her comment above) . Few people starting out with chickens realize just how much ventilation a chicken coop needs to be healthy housing for chickens. And everyone seems to worry about chickens handling cold weather, when it's actually hot weather that's much more dangerous for a critter who can't take off her down coat.
Hello, I recomend the book, 'Fresh air poultry houses' by Prince T Woods. I got the book off Amazon. He was a big advocate of open air chicken houses back in the early 1900s. The book shows several different types of open air houses and designs. He explains the reasons for ventilation in the chicken houses, and how this effects the health and general well being of the birds. I built my chicken house, The first and only one, using one of his designs. I have had this house almost a year now, and have had ZERO problems with sick chickens, frost bite, or any other problems you might read about on this site with my chickens. Here's a link to see a open air house. Goodluck, Jack
I ditto Pat....... This place should be all you would need. Any, and everything you could want to learn or see is right here. Thats how we did what we did. All the best.................
Thank you, everyone. I will keep on going through these boards for the time being. I am learning so much here.

Pat, thank you for setting me straight about chickens flying.
Also, thanks for the ventilation page. It feels challenging to me, trying to figure out just the right amount of ventilation but not having drafts and just in general keeping things comfortable, safe and healthy for my future chickens.

JackE, your open air coop is beautiful. I read through the thread on it and saw that a couple of people mentioned that the coop can’t be scaled down. I wonder why? On a side note, I had to laugh at myself when I saw your picture of your chickens out in the snow because I live in Southern California and I was worried about them getting too cold at night. Funny because we get maybe 4 nights a year where the temp dips to freezing or so.

Elmo, thank you for mentioning that it is the heat that I need to worry about for my chickens. I am going to try to learn what people do in my area about that. We do get a couple really hot weeks in the summertime, and with humidity too. Also, I am going to rethink where I put the coop.

Thank you again.

Because of wind penetration. The size of 'dead zone' (area of relatively-reliable calm air) the chickens need in the back of the house is a feature of CHICKEN size, not house size (until you get to very large coops with multiple parallel roosts, anyhow). So you cannot scale things down so far that the dead zone is less than one chicken deep, so to speak.

The smallest size that Woods says you "can" build in his book is, what, 6x10 I think? And he says that he would not really recommend that as such, that a bigger version is better, I believe his smallest RECOMMENDED size is 6x16 or something like that.


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