Welcome to our coop page.
If you're researching information on how to design and build your own chicken coop I hope you find the following information useful. I also recommend the book, Backyard Chickens Guide to Coops and Tractors. Our coop is one of the 16 coops featured in the book. Each featured coop in the book includes lots of pictures, diagrams, dimensions, and a narrative about building the coop. You can find the book at a local library, bookstore, and of course Amazon.
Here's the Amazon link:
Most of what we have learned about backyard chickens has come from this website. When we first decided to become backyard chicken owners, we found that designing and building the coop was our biggest challenge. At first I was a little miffed by the lack of standard plans to be found on the Internet, but now that we're experienced backyard chicken owners, we realize that making a customized coop is part of the fun and uniqueness of having backyard chickens. My suggestions for designing and building a coop are:
- Take an honest look at your space limitations, your needs, and what you desire in convienence in terms of access to clean, change water, feed, gather eggs, etc.
- Study carefully all of the pictures on the coop page to see what other people have done with their coops. Also, if you google "chicken coops" using Google Images you'll see a bunch more.
- Avoid the temptation to take shortcuts on your design or build quality. Design and build for the long term. You want a strong and well sealed coop to withstand the weather.
- Budget plenty of time and allow for extra expenses. My history with projects has taught me that I should double the amount of time I plan to spend on a project and include lots of room for extra trips to Lowes or HD.
- Be very careful about ordering online plans! I've seen the plans for two of the most heavily advertised coop plans and they are far from what they advertise.
- The only online plans I recommend are for the Garden Coop. It's a great coop, the plans are very affordable, they are very easy to follow and take you step by step, and just about anyone can build the coop. http://www.thegardencoop.com
- Finally, if you have chicks and think you have plenty of time to get a coop built, think again. They grow quickly and the coop building process can be slow. Start now.
Approximate Coop Dimensions
I've had a few requests for coop dimensions so here they are. I built this to fit my available space so the dimensions are simply what worked for my space.
The footprint of the coop is 45" (3' 9") wide by 92" (7' 8") long. The height of the sides is 69" (5' 9") and the height to the peak of the roof is 82" (6' 10").
The house is 45" (3' 9") wide and 39" (3' 3") long. The floor of the house is 34" (2' 10") from the ground.
The much debated square footage per hen in my house is 3 square feet for 4 hens and 2.5 square feet for 5 hens. I've had no issues with housing up to 5 hens. They've been very comfortable.
The run space under the coop matches the coop footprint of 45" (3' 9") wide by 92" (7' 8") long for 29 square feet. The attached run that I built is 76" (6' 4") wide by 138" (11' 6") long for 73 square feet. The total run space is 102 square feet or 25 square feet for the 4 hens I currently have.
Our first chicks. I used two heat lamps so I could adjust the temp by turning one off if needed. This is in our garage so the temperature varies depending on the outside weather.
Why they all crowd around one or two holes for food I'm not sure.
About 2 weeks old.
Partial framing of the coop. I started this coop in May, 2009.
Here it is with the roof shingled. It took two days to shingle the roof but could have been done in one. The hardest part was the fact that I used architectural shingles and not 3 tab shingles which made it very difficult to cut out the ridge pieces. I was able to find two bundles of 30 yr Owens Corning shingles sold as 2nd qaulity for $12 a bundle. I only had one left over piece. The two roof panels measure 32x96.
This shows how I used my Kreg jig to make pocket holes. Pocket hole joinery is extremely easy if you use the jig and makes a rock solid joint. You can see that the trusses are joined at the top with three screws. Then I joined the trusses to the 2x4's running along the front and back walls. These provide the joint to the whole frame and fill in the voids between the trusses. I used 3/4 ply for the roof and so far there's no sagging between the three trusses. I was originally going to do a flat roof and had I to do it over again, I probably would have used 4 trusses
A few more sections of hardware cloth to put on, the trim boards around the house, some final detail painting and then the ramp to the house door.
The following pictures are of the completed coop.
The nestbox is removable through the access door. Also, I stapled a piece of vinyl flooring to the top to make clean up easier.
This is the view looking through the nestbox door.
This is the view looking through the window just above the nestbox door. The roosts are set into some wooden brackets and are removable for cleaning. I should also mention that the floor sits on wooden cleats and can be completely removed from the bottom. I also covered the floor with vinyl.
This is the solar panel mounted on the outside of the coop. There are two spot type lights inside the house and one in the run area which points at the house door. They are LED and provide just enough light to illuminate but are not too bright.
With Spring approaching I decided that I'd had enough of chicken poop all over my backyard patio and the constant cleaning. I updated the coop by building an attached run which incorporates the existing fence. I removed the hardware cloth on the side of the coop leading into the run so the hens have full access to the new run.
We kept our first cycle of hens for about 2.5 years and then decided to swap them out for new chicks. Their egg production had dropped and egg production is important to me. We bought 5 chicks to replace our original 5 hens but one turned out to be a rooster. He went to a new home. The four remaining hens are a Rhode Island Red, Golden Sexlink, Red Blue Laced Wyandotte, and an Easter Egger.