Here's a list of products and books we think make building your coop and keeping chickens easier, safer, and more fun. Click on a category or scroll down to browse.
We limit our recommendations to products we've used personally or that have come highly recommended by our customers or readers. If we've reviewed a product on our blog, we'll link you to the review as well.
The links here are mainly to North American retailers, but can be used for reference wherever you are. Please note, some of the larger retailers offer commissions for the privilege of being linked to, so we will make a little something on those sales at no added cost to you. Of course, we encourage you to shop locally when possible. We also provide options where we can, so please let us know if you find a better deal elsewhere online.
building your chicken coop
Hardware cloth. The gold standard for keeping your chickens in and predators out of your coop is 1/2" Galvanized Hardware Cloth. It usually makes sense to buy this locally, but there are often some surprising deals on Amazon that include shipping, so it's definitely worth a look. Make sure to get the right width for your coop design.
Roofing panels. We recommed SunTuf polycarbonate roofing panels for all our coop designs. They're easy to work with, provide shade and UV protection, are impact resistant, and made to last. You can find them and the closure strips you need to attach them at just about any Home Depot store, or special order them. Lowe's and Menard's sell comparable products by different brands.
Wood preservatives and stains. I recommend TimberPro UV's Internal Wood Stabilizer to preserve (but not stain) bare softwood lumber. Their non-toxic stains are exceptional too. Click here for a discount code and to order direct from the manufacturer. Customers have also had great results with German-made Osmo One Coat Only HS Plus, a semi-transparent, earth-friendly stain that comes in a variety of beautiful, mixable tones. Here's a spec sheet on it.
Coop hardware kit. With our Quick Kits, you get all the hardware you need in one box (not including plans or the wood, roofing, and bulky stuff). We pack these ourselves, and Priority Mail shipping is included in the price.
Power tools. Some basic power tools you want for building a chicken coop are a cordless drill/driver and a circular saw. For bigger coops and projects, you might consider adding an impact driver (a wrist saver) and a pneumatic stapler (for attaching lots of hardware cloth). If you can borrow tools from a friend or local tool lending library, that's great.
If you're buying, remember that you get what you pay for. I'm a fan of the RIDGID brand, available at Home Depot, in large part because of their lifetime service agreement. If you do the online registration, you get free service for life. On cordless tools, this covers chargers and batteries, which often fail well before the tool. (Keep in mind, if you ever bring a Ridgid tool in for service and you receive a replacement tool or component, you must re-register each new item for it to be eligible for the continued lifetime service.)
Tape measurer. I recommend a standard 25' Tape Measurer especially on larger coop and garden projects where you may need the length. But I use — and love — my pocket-sized 12' Tape Measurer
for most of my work. The smaller size makes it super easy to work with.
Sawhorses. They unfold to hold stuff that you're cutting. Then they fold up to be stored away. I keep saying I'm gonna upgrade to something fancier, but my old plastic set just won't fail. Here's a pair comparable to what I have — Stanley Jr. Folding Sawhorses — yet certainly better.
Square. It's triangular, yes, but it helps you keep things square. This 7 1/2" Rafter Square
is a fine one. Handy for marking crosscuts so you can make your cuts nice and perpendicular.
Handsaw. Stanley SharpTooth Handsaw. Like a saw through butter.
Metal snips. If you think building your coop will be the only time you'll use a pair of metal snips, you can probably make do with lesser ones than these Wiss Compound Action Snips. But cutting hardware cloth is already such a pain, why make it any harder? And you will use them again. Whatever kind you get, make sure they can handle at least 19-gauge thick material (the lower the gauge, the thicker the material).
Clamps. Clamps help a lot when you're building a coop, especially if it's just you and your own two hands. You can get simple spring-loaded clamps or pony up for these trigger clamps, which are easier on the wrist, provide a more solid hold, and have a greater holding capacity. A couple 6" trigger clamps should be all you need for your coop project and many other DIY purposes. I went with the 12" clamps, but I can't say I've every really needed the wider capacity.
Pneumatic stapler. If you're gonna be stapling a lot of hardware cloth to your coop, especially to vertical surfaces, a Narrow Crown Stapler
and some good 7/8" Staples
will save your arm and thumbs. Here's another decent model.
You'll need an Air Compressor (here's a nice small one for DIY)
to power your stapler, an Air Hose
to connect the two, and a couple of couplers to join the hose to the tool
and to the compressor.
(If your tool, hose, or compressor models vary from those here, be sure to check that these are indeed the coupler styles and sizes you need.) Also, you want to use Seal Tape
on the threads where you attach the couplers to the hose to prevent leakage.
Respirator. Whether you're sanding or cutting wood or cleaning out your dusty, straw-filled chicken coop, a Respirator
can mean the difference between a day of sneezing and chest congestion and no issues at all. It works better than a disposable dust mask — a lot better, IMO — because it seals to your face and has broad or pleated filters for better airflow. It also prevents your glasses or safety glasses from fogging up as you exhale.
If you're sensitive at all to sawdust, straw and hay, or any dust and pollen, these will bring a smile to your face. (No one will see it, but you'll know it's there.) They come in different sizes, so check that before you buy. You can get replacement filters as needed, and ones specific to the task or particle size you need to block.
Safety glasses. I do not have a specific recommendation for Safety Glasses, other than that I highly recommend you wear them, especially when operating power tools.
Work gloves. A good pair of work gloves will prevent blisters and splinters from working with wood and protect you from scrapes as you work with hardware cloth. I use Atlas Nitrile Tough Gloves (links to a 4-pack, though one pack will more than do for a coop project). I like them because they're comfortable, have good grip to them, and are thin enough that your fingers can stay nimble. Double check your size before buying online.
Ear protection. I started with some over the ear protection like these Earmuffs. Most recently, I switched to these Etymotic High-Fidelity Ear Plugs that I bought for a concert where I still needed to be able to converse with people. I put them in while I'm running my power tools, enjoy the extra peace while I'm not, and I can still hear my kids when they call me in for dinner. It's your call which type you prefer. I also wear prescription glasses, safety glasses, and a respirator when working, so the in-ear style is one less thing attached to my head.
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outfitting your chicken coop
Nipple waterer. We sell pre-made Nipple Waterers and the nipples to make your own for poop-free water and more time between changes. These are gravity fed so there's no hose connection or pressure regulator required. Just hang and go. . . away for the weekend.
Heat your nipple waterer. The challenge with drip waterers in the winter is keeping the water liquid both in the bucket and on the exposed nipples. This 200W Pail De-icer by API holds the temp right around 40 degrees F. Since it sits at the bottom of your waterer near the nipples, its warmth should also keep those mechanisms flowing free. (I just couldn't say nipples there.)
Anchor your coop. Tipping is not an issue with our coops, as wind flows through them, rather than building up pressure against a solid wall. That said, you know your area and building codes best. Should you decide to anchor your chicken coop, this 15" Anchor Kit
is the way to go. If you only do overkill, there's also a 30" Kit.
Flat-panel heater. We very rarely add heat to our coop, but there are times and places in this world where it makes sense to do. The Cozy Legs Flat Panel Heater gets solid reviews from chicken owners. At 100W, it adds just enough heat to take the edge off a hard freeze, but not so much that your girls get spoiled. Plus, it fits into even the coziest henhouses and should present much less of a hazard than an open bulb.
Control houseflies. Fresh chicken poop + hot summer sun = flies. These Disposable Fly Traps
help keep things under control without insecticides. As with diapers, I'm a fan of disposables here. Place one near the pooping grounds, above where the chickens can get them, and downwind of your and your neighbors' windows. There is an odor. Remember, you're not trying to attract houseflies to your yard — the poop will do that on its own. You just want to give the flies one last, irresistable dish to sample along their buffet line. By the way, there's an existing patent on an odorless fly trap. Keep your fingers crossed this makes it into mass production soon.
Shade the chicken yard. We use a Coolaroo Triangle Shade for extra shade on our patio during the summer, and I've had a few customers use them to shade their chicken yard, attaching a corner to their Garden Coops. They look cool, shade well, and are quite versatile.
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Chicks. Check locally at farm and feed stores and hatcheries, or order your chicks online and have them shipped in the mail! My Pet Chicken and eFowl both ship small quantities and have lots of breeds to choose from.
Brooder. A brooder can be as basic as a cardboard box or something much more elaborate. An excellent, fully secure DIY solution is to build the quarter-height module from The Garden Run enclosure series. When your chicks are fully grown, simply attach this unit to your outdoor coop to expand their secure day run.
Of course, if you're building The Garden Coop, The Garden Ark, or The Basic Coop chicken coop designs, the henhouses in these coops can be used as brooders as well (if not already occupied by a flock).
A brooder cage from a company like Quality Cage (pictured is their chicken cage size 3624, which ships knocked down) lets you house your chicks in a garage, basement, or spare room. It gives protection from other pets and predators, and the wire floor and poop tray make it super-easy to keep clean. And you can use it many times over for a lifetime of raising and keeping chickens.
Chick feeder and waterer. You have options here, but for a small flock of chicks, a Round 1-Qt. Jar Feeder Base and Waterer Base
are economical solutions. Just fill a 1-qt. Ball-style mason jar with feed or water, screw on the base, and set it in the brooder. The smaller openings on the feeder keep the chicks from scratching around in the food and wasting it.
Brooder Bottle nipple waterer. For clean water that your chicks won't be tempted to swim in (or poop in), a nipple waterer is the way to go. You can start chicks on them from day one, but if you had chicks shipped in the mail, give them a few days with an open dish waterer as well to rehydrate.
Heat lamp and bulbs. A basic Brooder Light fixture can be clamped or mounted to hold a 250-Watt Heat Bulb. Get a couple bulbs in case one burns out.
Some chicken keepers prefer Ceramic Heat Emitters
because they emit no light (light affects your chickens' wake/sleep/eating patterns). Heat output on these looks to be comparable to the incandescent bulbs by wattage. To have enough heat to brood chicks, you could jump to a 150W or 200W emitter, but reviewers report that these get super hot and can scorched feathers that brush up against them. Ouch. A better option might be to get two fixtures and two 100W emitters.
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Feed. You are what your eggs are what your chickens eat. We've used a variety of feeds and scratch mixes — everything from making our own to an organic mix to locally grown, non-organic pellets. You've gotta do what works for you and your flock. Fortunately, one of the best sources for feed around is available online: Scratch and Peck Feeds. If you're distant from their center of operations, shipping may get costly, but check in with them about placing a bulk order to get that cost down.
Oyster shell. A calcium supplement, Crushed Oyster Shell
supplements what's in your chickens' feed or natural diet so they have what they need to produce strong egg shells.
Grit. Chickens need Grit
for digestion. And while they'll find little stones pecking around your yard, it's good to give them a steady supply, sized just for them.
Food-grade diatomaceous earth (DE). Add Food-Grade Diatomaceous Earth
to your chickens' feed, sprinkle it in their bedding, and dust them with it for fly and worm control. Good stuff. Be sure to wear a dust mask or respirator (see above) when handling it — not because it's toxic, but because it's so fine and sharp (that's its mode of action against insects) that it can irritate your nasal passages and lungs. I try to apply it downwind from my chickens too, to give it a chance to settle. Here's a Supplement Kit that includes DE, grit, and oyster shell all in one.
Turn kitchen scraps into protein-rich chicken food. I had my eye on this BioPod Plus Auto-Harvesting Black Soldier Fly Grub Composter for a couple years before taking the plunge. I wish I hadn't waited. You'll save on feed costs and all that, but the real fun is watching your chickens GO CRAZY over these little grubs. Chickens hunt insects naturally, and this system lets you restore that part of their natural diet, even in a backyard coop setting.
It may cost more than a DIY version, yet it was nice to have it ready to go out of the box. It comes with very thorough FAQs and support, plus there are lots of tips online from others who are composting their scraps — and indulging their chickens — this way.
I made some mistakes the first couple attempts to get the colony established. First time it was still too cold out (temps gotta average 40+ degrees F). Second time, I put too much food in, didn't drain it properly, and it turned anaerobic. Yuk. Third time was the charm. Now it provides yummy treats daily. Open the lid, scraps in. Open the drawer, grubs out.
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There are a growing number of books on the subjects of keeping chickens, organic gardening, and cooking. Here's a sample of what's on my shelf:
Keep Chickens! by Barbara Kilarski (Powell's Books | Amazon)
A Chicken in Every Yard: The Urban Farm Store's Guide to Chicken Keeping by Robert and Hannah Litt (Powell's Books | Amazon)
The Chicken Encyclopedia: An Illustrated Reference by Gail Damerow (Powell's Books | Amazon
| Read our review)
Free-Range Chicken Gardens by Jessi Bloom (Powell's Books | Amazon | Read our review)
Growing Vegetables West of the Cascades: The Complete Guide to Natural Gardening by Steve Solomon (Powell's Books | Amazon)
You Can Farm: The Entrepreneur's Guide to Start and Succeed in a Farm Enterprise by Joel Salatin (Powell's Books | Amazon)
How to Grow More Vegetables: And Fruits, Nuts, Berries, Grains, and Other Crops Than You Ever Thought Possible by John Jeavons (Powell's Books | Amazon)
food and cooking
On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen by Harold McGee (Powell's Books | Amazon)
The Art of Simple Food: Notes, Lessons, and Recipes from a Delicious Revolution by Alice Waters (Powell's Books | Amazon)
The Farmstead Egg Guide and Cookbook by Terry Golson (Powell's Books | Amazon)
The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals by Michael Pollan (Powell's Books | Amazon)
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Seeds. Some good sources of seeds online are Territorial Seed Company, High Mowing Seeds, and Victory Seeds (lots of rare, open-pollinated, and heirloom seeds).
Fruit and nut trees. Request a free catalog from One Green World and enjoy shopping!
Succulents and cacti. I'm becoming a big fan of Succulents. No specific recommendation for a source, but the idea that they do well in the summer droughts makes me happy.
Drip irrigation. There's no shortage of rainfall in Portland, except during the summer months when our plants and soil need it the most. Drip irrigation to the rescue. If you can't find what you need locally, try DripWorks.
Garden planner. This downloadable garden planner and journal from Northwest Edible Life is way more organized than you (or I, anyway) ever will be, which is just what you want in a planner, right? Use it for years to organize your efforts and get the most out of your gardening.
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art, decoration, and style
Stencils. Stencils make it a lot easier to get just the right image or pattern onto your coop, both inside and out. Check out Etsy and Cutting Edge Stencils for a wide selection.
Outdoor signs and art. Bainbridge Farm Goods creates modern, colorful, clever aluminum signs to decorate your chicken coop and garden.
Posters, floursack towels, and more. Portland artist Joe Wirtheim's poster art project The Victory Garden of Tomorrow is a contemporary take on mid-century propaganda posters. Homegrown meets the home front. Great designs, and the floursack towels are another way (other than eggs, of course) to bring your chicken love into the kitchen.
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