My chicken adventure began one evening as I was browsing the garden section of Pintrest. I came across the most adorable chicken coop! I showed my daughter and I said it was almost cute enough to make me want to get chickens AS A JOKE because why would I ever get chickens? And then I thought why wouldn't I? I had no clue about anything to do with chickens, I have never known anyone with chickens, and that got me wondering what was needed to care for them. I am always telling the kids if we win the lottery I want to buy a farm, so I told myself purely for informational purposes (you know in case we win the lottery tomorrow) I would find out about raising chickens- a quick search lead me to backyardchickens.com where I saw all these posts about pet chickens, I had never considered chickens could be pets! And of course I saw tons of adorable chicken coops and chicken photos. Over the next couple days I kept finding myself coming back to this site and getting more interested in raising chickens (the rest of my family totally in the dark about my new obsession!) Then I drop it on them, I want chickens and everyone laughs. It took a good couple days to convince everyone I was serious. So about 2 weeks later I had a bin of adorable baby chicks in my sunroom who we found grew very fast! I started calling the chickens my little chickie pies - like sweetie pies - NOT like chicken pot pies like my husband likes to joke! And the name just stuck, hence Chickie Pie Place
We needed a coop that could hold 4 chickens for as little money as possible. The coops on here gave me so much inspiration and information about what chickens need to be happy. I got out the graph paper and began drawing, I realized pretty quickly the adorable coop I saw on Pintrest would be thousands of dollars and our budget was much more modest than that - plus I wasn't even sure I would enjoy having chickens yet. I didn't want a huge investment for something I might not end up keeping. We decided to maximize lumber & plywood usage we would go with a 4x4 coop with an exterior nest box to save floor space, as many on this site have suggested. We do not have a ton of DIY experience so it also needed to be fairly simple. This is what I came up with (I hope you can follow my scrawling and please excuse my lack of technical terms!). I did try to draw it to scale with one box = 1 foot. The main "legs" were going to be two stacked 2x4s, with 2x4s making up the rest of the frame. We used about 16 - 2x4x8 for the frame
Note: for the framing, we ended up not needing to have additional framing for the window, it was just a small shed window that had a "lip" that we screwed into the plywood. The trim & "shutters" cover the lip. We used strips of plywood to make "frames" for the doors, so they wouldn't swing in and they had a more secure seat. I'm sure there is a better way to explain that lol - but I will take a picture of it!
for the exterior we just covered the frame with 5/8 plywood. We used 4 sheets (1 split between the front/back, 1 split between the two sides, 1 for the roof, 1 for the floor and misc needs). I would love to do siding or shingles someday but for now that's not in the budget. To help protect the plywood from the elements, we thouroughly coated every surface in Thompson's Water Sealer, especially any cut exposed edges (like around doors, etc), then we used two coats of exterior primer & paint. We went with blue & purple to match the raised beds in my vegetable garden which is next to our coop. We also let each of the legs soak overnight in a bucket of water sealer.
We wanted the roof sloped so snow wouldn't pile up in winter. I brought the plans over to my step father to have him look them over because he has way more experience building things than we do. He seemed to think it would be easy enough, and then he offered to build it for us as long as we promised him some fresh eggs (he is retired and I think was itching for a project anyway) SCORE! So unfortunately that we means we don't have any "in progress" shots to share because he constructed the coop in his garage and we hauled it over to our house afterwards (which was a whole other adventure!). But I tried to take a lot of pics of the inside of the coop so you could see how it was constructed. We didn't have a lot of scrap materials laying about to help save cost and as we were on a deadline with those growing chicks we just bought new. We had one pallet that we ended up taking apart and using in some places and we had some roof paper and shingles left over from when we re-roofed our house, but other than that, we just had lots of trips to Home Depot!
Front of the coop. The window was trickier to find than I had thought. We ended up ordering it off Amazon, it is a playhouse/shed window, but it does open. We installed it sideways for space reasons, and we also installed it "backwards" so that the latches to open and close the window would be accessed from outside rather than climbing in the coop to operate it. If you look at the "legs" of the coop, you can see what I meant in the plans by "stacking" two 2x4s for the legs, it was cheaper than buying 4x4s, but you could do that also. We set them on top of cinder blocks. We just used scrap wood that was lying about to make the "shutters" and trim for the window. I got the chicken stencils on ebay :) . The ramp folds up and latches under the window so we can lock them up for the night. It was a bit steep for them so we put the cinder block underneath.
The window came with screen, but we put hardware cloth on the inside, just in case. I found a cute chicken bell at a local flea market that I couldn't resist
back view of the coop/run. I knew I wanted the run to be at least 6 ft tall so I could walk into it for cleaning and visiting. You can see we ran out of roof shingles for the nest box, so that is just roofing paper for now. The run is 8x11 plus they can go underneath the coop for shade. The bottom 2 ft of the run is covered with hardware cloth and that is buried 18 inches down to prevent critters from digging under. We don't have a ton of predators, raccoons, foxes occasionally. I am more worried about our dog and 2 cats, and other neighbor's pets. The top 4 ft and the "ceiling" of the run are 1 inch chicken wire. We are hoping before winter gets here to put some kind of roof over the run so we don't have to shovel it out when it snows.
Both sides of the coop completely open for cleaning and feeding. I am super glad we did this. We just open both doors, put a box under one side and push the shavings out. We put cheap vinyl flooring in the coop, as we saw in many coops on here, it makes cleanup soo easy. The "ladder" up to the roost is one of those trellis you get when you buy a potted climbing plant. We have circular vent holes on each side above the access door. I kept the cutout wood and am thinking about using them in the winter by popping them back in the holes if it gets too cold. We will see how things go. I think the back vent would be best for winter since it is sheltered.
A closer view inside so you can see the construction of the frame. We opted not to insulate or heat. Keeping my fingers crossed they will be alright. We live in New England, but on Cape Cod the ocean tends to keep us a bit warmer so the winters aren't quite as harsh (but it still gets pretty cold!). You can see the nest boxes to the right. They are partitioned into two boxes. I probably could have made three, but decided that wasn't needed and just made them roomy for sharing. The vent above the nest boxes is hinged so we can close it off if we want, but it runs along the entire back of the coop. You can also see my poor new Blue Wheaten Ameraucana hiding up there. We just got her today after a trip to the feed store for food lol. She was just too cute I had to. She is about 2 months, my other girls are almost 3 months. She spent most of the day hiding out in the coop. poor kid. but that makes 5 chickens so unless we add an addition we are at our limit
Another view of inside:
You can see here what I tried unsuccessfully to explain earlier about the plywood strips framing the doors:
Bella checking out the roost. The roost is a 2x4. Ignore my horrible caulking job. I grabbed 3 tubes of exterior caulk without really paying attention. 1 ended up being clear, 1 white and 1 black lol. So I suppose lesson learned there, read the tubes!
This is the back vent from outside:
Nest box off the back of the coop. We decided to do a flip down opening to make cleaning easier:
nest box open. most of the used pallet wood was used in here, for the floor and partition
coop and run. we used 2x3s for the run frame. The people door is made out of 2x2s. I primed and painted everything before assembly, that was much easier. Side note for any other brand new chicken owners/DIYers. When we had the frame put together and started in on the wire, we were trying to use our staple gun and these small staples to attach the wire. Obviously, it kept pulling out and we were totally frustrated. I called my brother in law to see if he had a more powerful staple gun and he said he did, but he said why aren't you using chicken wire staples? What? They make something called chicken wire staples lol? So we went out and grabbed a box. It was no fun having to hammer them all in, but at least they were secure! I think that was something everyone else just knew because I didn't see much info on how to attach the wire anywhere.
I'd love to do a little more landscaping around the coop - maybe next year. On the right are my tomato cages, the coop and my garden form a L shape. I think now I'd like to fence in the garden so the chickies can free range in there a bit.
I know I was a bit perplexed by what kind of latches to use on the doors, so here is a look at what we have come up with. This is the latch for the people door into the run. We have one of these at the top and the bottom of the door.
this is the latch "system" we have on both of the side access doors:
This is the latch on the chicken ramp after it is folded up for the night. It fits really snugs, so the cup hook is just to help us pull it down.
These are the latches we are using for the nest box. Again the fit is really tight so the knob is just to help us.
The bigger girls enjoying the outdoor roost we made them from scraps from the frame. They also have an old tree stump in there that they love. We got a couple bags of play sand and dumped that in the corner for them. The rest of the run used to be grass, that didn't last too long though, so now I'm not entirely sure what to do in the run. I hear a lot of people like straw, so we might give that a shot.
Tucker double checking to make sure we properly predator proofed - how sweet of him:
thanks for looking at our coop page! We have gotten so many amazing ideas from others on here, I want to give you all a big thank you! Without you I never would have even considered chickens in the first place! We looooooove our chickie pies now, and i'm already thinking about how we could add on a chicken coop addition off one of those large access doors so we can get more...........
Things we would change: Of course I wish we had made it bigger! I think we will want the run to be covered by winter so we don't have to shovel it out. I wish we had taken the time to properly level the run area before we went ahead with the enclosure. There are parts where the bottom board of the run are 2-3 inches off the ground (we have buried wire so nothing is getting under, it's just more of an aesthetic issue). I have tried back filling the gaps, but the chickens keep digging it out. So that is something we will need to address in the near future, but it would have been much easier if we had just taken the time and done it right in the beginning. I wish we had asked someone for help with the roof shingles. We have zero roof experience, but figured it wouldn't be too hard. Well they look a little messed up so I'm pretty sure we went wrong somewhere lol. So I guess my main advice would be to slow down, take the time to do things right and ask for help if you are unsure!
After we totaled everything we up we found that the coop cost us just about $250 - and the run cost us another $250 (that wire really adds up quick!). So not too too bad for a beginners coop