We are first time chicken owners. We got our chicky babies in the spring, along with a prefab coop. Owing our four pullets now for 18 weeks and cleaning the coop, we quickly learned what we liked, didn't like and needed in a coop design.
Living in Florida we are famous for having many mobile home parks. So we thought Why Not? Why can't we build our chickens a mobile home?
We figured it wasn't such a bad idea, especially in the summers, with the threat of hurricanes and tropical storms, we could have a coop that could be wheeled into the garage if needed in an emergency!
Oh, Before I forget... We need a NAME FOR THE COOP! All suggestions welcome!
First of all....We have NEVER built anything like this before. So there were no real plans, and all our designing was done as we were building with our limited knowledge. Take it from us, if you don't think you can build anything...just dive in and try! You may make mistakes, but I don't think the chickens mind.
We decided to build on a purchased garden cart from our local Home Building store. It was delivered for free right to our door! It has a 1,000 lb weight capacity! I hope our chickens never get that big...otherwise they may be joining us at our weight management meetings every week!
The bed of the cart is 24"x48" and is steel constructed and has 13 inch pneumatic tires. We can pull it by hand or swing around the handle to attach to the back of a lawn mower. We did not use the sides that came with the cart, they were removable, and just wouldn't work unless we somehow welded them on.
For reference, As we go, I will be referring to Front of coop and Back of coop. The back of the coop is the side that is closet to my sliding back door in the pictures.
It didn't occur to me to start taking pictures until my husband asked if I was taking them!
Below was the first picture of construction. I also didn't take any measurements as we went along, so I will do my best to run outside as I am writing this to take measurements.
Keep in mind these are not blueprint, perfectly accurate measurements, but I will do my best.
We first build a basic rectangle frame out of 2x4 cut 47"x 44". We were able to center and attach the framed 2x4s to the top of the cart by placing pieces of wood under the metal grate of the cart, and screwing through the cart onto the wood frame, sandwiching the cart grate in between.
Next we secured a piece of 3/4" plywood on top of the frame with screws. The plywood was cut to 48"x72" The over hang of the plywood on the front and back is only 3". But on the right side of the coop we have an overhang of 18" It is purposely not centered. We did this because we wanted the actual livable section of the coop to be as centered as possible over the cart itself being weight bearing. The over hang on the pop door side (right side) and the bare plywood on the front is going to be a little landing or porch.
I glued a piece of linoleum cut at 60"x39" to the back corner of the plywood for easy cleanup. The linoleum section is going to be where the actual inside of the coop will be.
Framing begins! We knew we wanted a slanted roof. We originally wanted this to look like an old Western saloon, but it didn't end up this way. We also wanted to keep the coop pretty lightweight, and using a bare minimum amount of wood. We had a lot of old spare 2x4s that we cut into 2x2s for a lot of the framing.
The tall wall (front of the coop) is 60"x48", The back wall is 60x37. We then added two cross beams. The one on your right is a 2x2 which was installed at aporx. 17.5 inches high which will be where we will be attaching the external nest box. And the right 2x4 cross beam is at 13 inches in height at the bottom of the 2x4...this will be where I will be installing my pop door. I needed a 2x4 to accomodate an automatic horizontal pop door opener that I have on my other coop at this time.
Now the fun begins w/ angles, lol. We started adding the 2x2s for the roof. Attaching them to the front wall and the back wall. Each 2x2 is around 41" long.
Two short 2x2 are added on the pop door side which is 10" wide.
We figured out what the overhang of the roof will be, and we needed a piece of wood to support two big doors in the back of the coop at a later time. So we screwed this 2x2 four and a half inches down from the top of the frame. This long rectangle will be future ventilation.
Cutouts. This is when we take 1/2" plywood and start cutting out our walls. We held up the plywood to our frame. Marked out the size, cut it, then figured out where we wanted our windows and cut them out too. I am painting as we go along, as least the inside of the coop at this time. I wanted to seal as much wood on all sides as I could.
Outside not painted yet.....
pop door side..My hubby did such a nice job with the skill saw and the cutouts!
Nest box end. This is when we started working on the external nest box.
We cut a piece of 1/2" plywood 16"x33" for the bottom of the box and screwed down right onto the frame.
We did the same with the three sides. Two of the plywood sides are slipped right into the frame and screwed in. The middle piece is screwed in from the bottom. There is a slight angle on the tops of these sides for the roof, it is hard to tell in this picture.
The roof cut 17"x38" and is added first and the back is angled slightly and butted up against the frame. Then the 1/2" plywood for the wall is added next and sits on top of the nest box. This makes a good seal and prevents any water from seeping into the nest boxes.
We add the nest box door, cut to size, and added our hinges. We chose hinges so we could fold the door all the way down and out of the way.
OH..... almost forgot! Before we screwed down the wall on both ends, we cut hardware cloth to fit, and sandwiched it between the frame and plywood exterior. No sharp ends!
Still painting as we go........Starting to get a little tired of this time consuming task....
Now the two big doors. Excited about having two big doors to open up wide for easier cleaning!
Doors are cut from 1/2" plywood, cut to size, ripped in the middle and attached with four outdoor heavy duty hinges.
Next is a picture of the inside so far. We had to add a block of wood to hold the roost bar about 12" in height. The roost bar is cut 2" wide, sanded and painted. The bar slips into two plastic holders, made from plastic outlet cases. I will be able to slip the bar in and out easily for cleaning. The screws that hold the plastic boxes to the wall keep the bar from sliding.
Also hardware cloth was added to the big long rectangle.
Inside looking at the nest boxes
Porch framed in using wood 1x2s. Front painted.
I have to admit. I am getting a little tired of painting, so when it came time to frame in the windows I went to the hardware store and purchased white plastic 1x2 molding!
Along with the hardware cloth, I also added a piece of heavy dark window screen. This will help keep the hot Florida sun rays from heating up the inside of the coop too much.
Adding the nest box roof.
Main roof added, and lock for the doors.
It's hard to see in this picture, but we added a piece of 1x3 to the inside of each of the big doors. The piece of wood on the left side sticks out about an inch, this will help keep rain from seeping in the center seam when the door is closed, it also helps keep the door closed properly.
There is another piece of 1x2 on the inside of the other door too, but you cannot see that one, but it butts up against the other 1x2 when closed.
The 1x2s ended up coming in handy when we attached the lock, it gave us something to screw into.
In this picture you will notice some more of those plastic white 1x2s we added to support the ends of the roof on each end. The plastic sticks out slightly farther than the metal roof which will hopefully prevent us from walking by and slashing our heads open on sharp metal roofing.
Nearing the finish line. We install the metal porch roof, Trim along the top front of the coop.
Attached the ramp and automatic pop door opener.
A few little accessories, and Finally done!
What would I do different? Made sure everything was PERFECT square. It would have made installing the roof easier, but we were not that off which was a blessing. And even though she is done, we are still thinking of ideas on how to tweak it.
This coop as simple as it looks, was pretty time consuming. Three full weekends, and an hour or two after work during the week.
We are happy. My husband and I had a lot of fun building this, and they ladies spent their first night on the roost last night. We also got our third egg this morning! I didn't know how expensive eggs were lol.
A few additions were made. Both were made because of heavy blowing rain. Below you will see the additions of two wood shutters we made for the top two windows. They are held open with a piece of wood that can be folded flat to close the window opening if needed:
Second addition was a little roof addition over the pop door that helps us securely attach the coop to our run:
This is a picture of the coop attached to our run:
And here is a chicken butt...just for the heck of it...Isn't it cute!
Thank you for all the positive comments!
Taking care of our backyard chickens is always a learning process and ever changing.
And a lot of fun!