I met a chicken lady several months ago, when I was looking for a rooster and a brood hen. She was kind enough to help me out with my chicken needs. I told her I'd built a "coop" out of sheet metal roofing. She didn't balk, she didn't criticize, she was very kind to me. She and her husband brought over ten pallets (10 large ones and a small one). She gave me a little advice: build with the pallets upright (long dimension - vertical), and use sheet metal for the roof, and take apart some of the pallets to fill in others.
I took apart two of the pallets and they allowed me to fill in four others and the small pallet and to fill in the bottom spaces in the pallets on the open sides.
I used two of the "ribs" of them for roosts.
I used the small pallet and some of the slats to build a bi-level nesting corner.
I used hinges from a closet door for the door.
I used a small tree trunk down the center of the roof.
I nailed together three of the filled in pallets as the north side. (back)
I nailed together two of the less filled in pallets as the south side. (front)
I nailed a filled in pallet inside the east end (b/c that was the most exposed end of the coop).
I nailed an unfilled in pallet inside the west end.
I stood up the structure as it was (with some help from my minions). ;-)
I nailed the two front pallets onto the front of the east end.
I screwed the last pallet onto the west end of the front.
I nailed three sheets of metal roofing (about 18" wide and about 8' long) onto a tree my husband had felled.
My minions and I lifted the roof onto the coop and I nailed the roof to the tops of the ends.
I lined the front and end, that were not filled in, and the door with chicken wire (hardware cloth).
I notched two boards such that I had a fixed board on the door with a notch that fit the swiveling notched board that I nailed onto the side of the coop; all this was to secure the door.
If I had it to do over again, I would make the sides two pallets by two pallets.
I would make the west end of the filled in pallets and let the east end be more open.
I would also put the door on the east side of the front instead of on the west side.
I also need to put a board across the bottom of the doorway to hold the deep litter in, and to keep it from getting between the door and the pallet it's hinged to.
To build the nesting corner:
I filled in the half pallet (small pallet) and stood it upright squaring off the corner.
I cut about three slats in half. I used one across the front of the top level and across the bottom level.
I filled in the "flooring" of the top level with the rest of the half slats.
I placed flats from 2 lt soda bottles in the top and bottom as nesting boxes.
The hens seemed to like this better than the small pallet leaned in the corner of the coop. Also, two hens didn't like having to wait, so I was getting eggs in the middle of the coop; they like having an option when the urge to lay hits them without having to wait. =)
Please PM me if I've been unclear about anything and I'll be glad to explain and edit. =D
ETA: I'm sorry I forgot to come in and edit in pictures!!! Here they are:
I put them on here in the small size; you can click on them to see the large version.
This is the front; it faces south. To the left is the door. The sheet of metal on the ground in front of the coop is to keep coyotes from digging into it. I slide it across (left) in the evenings to cover the ground along the entire front of the coop.
This is the solid end; it faces East. I would design the entire coop differently and place it elsewhere if I did it all over again. I'd put it in the East part of the yard, so that side is more protected naturally, and I could have made the West side the solid side.
This picture shows the "beefing up" that I did. I just nailed slats from other pallets in the spaces between the slats that were on this pallet. I put the wider ones at the top to protect the chickens from the wind and weather better, and I angled them downward, like you would on a roof or with siding. I put the medium width ones on the bottom to give the chickens better protection from predators that might reach into the coop like raccoons, opossums, etc. And just to make this end more protective in general, I did fill in the middle part with narrow slats.
This is the back; it faces North. Again, you can see where I filled in, but there's plenty of "ventilation". The left is where the roosts are, and the right is where the nesting is (pics further down). You can also see (I think) that there is "ventilation" between the roof and the pallets.
This is the more open end; it faces West. It's where the door and the nesting area are; this is another situation I would redesign to avoid. The door is open; I don't know if you can tell, but the roof does cover most of the swing of the door, but not all of it. When it rains, I don't open the door all the way, so that the entire top is protected and almost all of the door itself.
This is a closer shot of the West side. It shows the hardware cloth on the inside (and wrapped around the end pallet, b/c that's the size it was) and the nesting a little and the door closure a little.
This is the door itself, standing wide open. See the hardware cloth? I didn't do anything to this pallet except the hinges and "latch".
This shot looks into the coop from outside through the open door. The door's on the right, the blue bucket is Snoodle's nest, the upright mini-pallet left of center is the nesting corner and the tub at the bottom left is for their water, but they knock it over, so there usually isn't water in it.
Coming into the coop and turning right, you'll see the roosts. (Sorry, I didn't realize that one was down until after I had taken all the pictures; I've got to get the hammer out there and nail it in better.) You can see my "big chicks" (mostly five weeks old, the two larger ones are seven weeks old) pretending to be grown up chickens. lol There's plenty of light coming in the front/south side and there's plenty of ventilation, as well as protection from the wind (which is one of the reasons they're hiding out in there on this day).
Coming in further and turning around, this is a shot of the nesting corner. The water tub to the lower left, upper and lower levels of nesting for the LF in the middle, and Snoodle's bucket at the bottom. You can also see where I filled in these slats, that's the back of the coop on the right there.
This is Snoodle's bucket. I leave one egg in there for her, so she knows it's safe for her to lay her eggs there. I have one brick under the front of the bucket and two in front of it, so she has a step up and then down into the bucket to nest. She seems to like it. Her one egg is to the left of center in the bucket, I think it will be more visible in the large version. She's a Bantam.
This is the bottom level of the nesting corner. You can see the weeds growing up through the end of the pallet on the right (that's the back); there's more light than I'd like coming in the West end of the coop right into the nesting corner, and my hens don't like to lay past about 2pm (that might be b/c of the light, it might have nothing to do with it, I don't know). Two of my six hens lay down here. Chocolate and Goldie, but I leave one egg down here so they know that their eggs are safe and so they'll continue laying here; I've had trouble with them moving nests around b/c of my collecting their eggs before. There's a cut branch in front of the nesting box (which is a plastic flat for 2 lt. soda bottles that I got from the gas station down the street).
This is the top level. The nest is also a plastic flat for soda bottles. It's sitting on slats from pallets that I cut in half; they're resting on the middle "rib" of the mini-pallet on the left and on one of the back/bottom slats of the pallets that make up the back of the coop. Four of my hens (all three Leghorns and one of the Comets) lay here. You can see I need to add more pine straw. I also put a rod of cut tree branch across the front of this level, so they can fly up onto it and look in before they get in there and lay.
This is a shot of the under side of the top level of the nesting corner. On the left is the middle "rib" of the mini-pallet across the middle is another piece of pallet that I used to support the halves of slats that support the weight of the soda flat and the hen(s) laying in there.
This is a shot of the nesting corner. If you look at all the pictures of the nesting corner, you can see that I removed all but the front of the bottom/back slats from the mini-pallet that shades this corner. You can see it in the center of this picture and to the left in the third picture up from here of the lower level and the second one above that of the entire nesting corner.
This shows the latching mechanism I made for the door. I cut slots in two ends of slats and attached them to the end of the coop and to the door itself.
This shows how it closes. Sometimes it doesn't stay closed, but the chickens can't open the door to get out and the sheet metal blocks anything being able to get in.
This shot shows the nail that holds the latch to the end of the coop. It's about two thirds of the way up pretty much in the center of the picture. It's in loosely enough to allow the board to swivel without hitting the hardware cloth, but I used a long nail, so that the nail is in the pallet tightly and the latch isn't likely to fall off.
This shows one of the closet door hinges I used for the door. Nothing spectacular, just a hinge.
Other things I'd re-design about this coop is that I would put something under coop to support the weight of the pallets. I would do something as little as placing a board (or brick or cement block) diagonally under each corner to something as extensive as placing boards (or bricks or blocks) under the entire perimeter of the building for support/foundation. It's heavy and fairly solid, so it's not going anywhere in regular weather and it's going to protect the chickens in regular weather. If we got a tornado, I'd be rebuilding more than the chicken coop anyway.
I would also re-design it to be two pallets by two pallets instead of being one pallet by three pallets. And I would draw my design on paper (even if it's not incredibly accurate or absolutely to scale), to get a better idea of what is really going to be going where and how one area interacts with other areas (like not having the doorway interacting with the nesting area, for instance).
I hope this helps. Please PM me if I can do anything else to make this easier to understand or if I can help out in any way. =)
Thank you all for all the interest you've shown so far!!! I hope this helps all of you!!! =)
DH and I had to brace up the back of the coop. For some reason it was beginning to lean backward and we didn't want it to fall down (especially on the chickens)!
I also added chicken wire above the front center pallet. I had a small hen who was escaping every morning. I don't care that she was getting out; I put the hens in the coop to keep the rooster company and I put the rooster in the coop b/c he starts crowing at 4 am (if he started at sunrise, I'd let him sleep wherever he wanted). Anyway, this henling was getting out, so we were worried about something being able to get in this winter.
Our greatest concern for our chickens is predation at night in the winter, when food is scarce, so we line "everything" and fill in all gaps with chicken wire. We use safety netting as a temporary stop-gap when we need to.
Again, please let me know if there are any questions, etc. =)