La Cage Mahal

Mike and I built our first chicken coop in March 2008, here in Southern California. Overall, it is 5x10' with a 3x5' henhouse and a 5x7' covered run. We built it to house three to five chickens. It is designed to blend in with the other buildings on the property and to improve our garden's appearance (it's made out of better materials than our house!). Our thanks go to both the BYC crew and Monica for wonderful ideas on how to build coops.

Basic Instructions

Step One: Framing​

We used treated and painted 2x6 lumber for the foundation and painted 2x4 lumber for the rest of the frame. Note that the uprights are attached to the inside. The area on the left will be the storage area and the henhouse, the right side will be the covered run. The frame is 5x5x10' (which means ducking to get in through the screen door).

Step Two: Flooring and Framing the Henhouse
Next, we put polyurethaned OSB flooring in both henhouse and storage areas (each required a full sheet, boo hoo). We framed for the window and the pophole in the henhouse, and the doors for the storage area. We added the roof joists and stabilizing cross pieces.

The roof joists were hard to cut at the correct angle:

Step Three: Roofing
We roofed La Cage Mahal with 7/16" OSB, metal drip edging, tar paper, then asphalt shingles and cap. The very short roofing nails were just a hair too long. I recommend thicker OSB or plywood.

Step 4: Siding
The siding is 1x6" shiplap. We should have attached it to the ends of the coop BEFORE we put the roof on so that we could draw the angle easily with a pencil, rather than getting out the protractor and trying to calculate the angle mathematically!

The back siding:

Step 5: Doors and Windows, Hardware Cloth
We built the doors for the storage area and the henhouse out of 1x6" shiplap cut to the size of the opening, then we screwed scrap lumber to the back to hold it together, then we used 1x4" pine to frame the door edge and to make the diagonal cross pieces. We hung them with galvanized exterior hinges and fastened them with hasps. The window came from an old cabinet. We just painted it and hung it. We used the other window from the same cabinet to make a fixed screen door that is fastened to the frame.

The screen doors were constructed by sandwiching hardware cloth between two overlapping 1x4" frames, then placing another 1x4 diagonally across the face for stability.
The hardware cloth enclosing the run area was nailed to the outside of the frame, then another 2x4 was placed over the nails, sandwiching it to secure against predators (including Sam, our new dog). We will line the bottom of the run with attached, welded wire when the babies are allowed out.

Step 6: Pophole, Ladder, Roosts
The ladder is made of 1x10 pine with 1/2" square dowels nailed to the top and a 2x2" nailed to the underside for stability. I think it is too long, and we might replace it with a step ladder. The pophole has a sliding door made of melamine and it opens from outside the coop with a rope and pulley.

The roosts are polyurethaned 2x2" sitting in joist hangers so that they can be removed for cleaning. We purchased a piece of scrap linoleum for the floor of the henhouse. It is easily curled into a funnel and SWOOSH all of the poop and shavings go right into the green-recycle container or the wheelbarrow, headed for the compost pile.


The henhouse in use:

The storage area:

The coop and chicken yard:

The chicken bridge:

The finished Cage Mahal.

Ahem. Did I say three to five chickens?

Changes Made Since Construction

1. Shortened chicken ramp so that we can get into the run!
2. Moved nest boxes to the back of henhouse and roosts to the front for easier poop-scooping.
3. Made folding fence of left-over wire and wood. Each panel is 3x5, hinged together. We can now grow grass and other forage in a section of the Chicken Yard.
4. Made a "screen door" for the pop hole to increase airflow in the summer.
5. Eliminated pine shavings in the hen house and replaced shavings and straw in the run with sand.
6. Gave ten chickens to brother-in-law. The space is just right for four chickens.

Materials List
I apologize to all for the incorrect construction terms and vocabulary. I hope you can understand the meaning of my terms through context. We splurged on shiplap siding, Dunn Edwards paint, and asphalt roofing shingles. For the most part, the materials were purchased from Home Depot in February and March of 2008.

Number Item Unit Price Total
3 2x6x10 treated @ 10.97: 32.91
1 2x6x8 treated @ 7.97: 7.97
4 2x4x10 @ 2.39: 9.56
33 2x4x8 @ 1.88: 62.04
5 7/16 4x8 OSB @ 6.98: 34.90
2 2x2x8 @ 1.98: 3.96
1 1x10x8 @ 9.46: 9.46
20 1x4x8 @ 3.06: 61.12
40 1x6x10 shiplap @ 5.97: 238.80
2 doorpulls @ 2.98: 5.96
12 T-hinges @ 2.69: 32.28
1 pkt 2 small T-hinges @ 2.79: 2.79
5 post hasps @ 4.98: 24.90
24 "L" brackets (frame anchors) @ .43: 10.32
2 extension springs @ 4.17: 8.34
1 pkg hook and eyes @ 1.79: 1.79
1 4x25 ft roll ½ inch hardware cloth @ 39.94: 39.94
1 4x10 ft roll ½ inch hardware cloth @ 19.97: 19.97
2 boxes 2 ½ inch exterior screws @ 6.97: 13.94
3 bundles asphalt shingles @ 16.70: 50.10
1 box ridge cap @ 44.00: 44.00
4 1x2x10 edge flashing @ 3.16: 12.64
3 tubes caulk @ 3.49: 10.47
4 cans spray polyurethane @ 5.96: 23.84
3 gal Dunn Edwards exterior paint @ 36.00: 108.00
5x12’ linoleum scrap @ 19.89: 19.89
3 4x4x8 treated @9.97: 29.91
1 5x50 feet welded wire @ 42.98: 42.98
2 nest boxes @ 12.98: 25.96
1 lg waterer @ 37.00: 37.00
1 lg feeder @ 25.00: 25.00
1 small waterer @ 5.98: 5.98
1 small feeder @ 5.99: 5.99
1 galvanized tub with lid @ 19.99: 19.99
Sandpaper: in stock
1 box ¾ inch galvanized roofing nails: in stock
1 box box nails: in stock
1 box 1 ½ inch exterior screws: in stock
4 joist hangers: in stock
8 3 ½ inch exterior screws: in stock
2 small windows: in stock
80 sq ft tar paper: in stock
Four ½" square dowels: in stock
2 post finials: in stock
1 scrap melamine: in stock
Rope: in stock
Pulley: in stock
Total Cost for Cage Mahal: $1,082.70
Total Cost for 15 Pullets: $49.00
Estimated Date for First Eggs: August, 2008
Estimated Cost Recovery Time: When H-E-Double Toothpicks Freezes Over