List of dimensions:
Floor – 8’x12’
Rear Deck – aprox 8’x2’
Cattle Panels – 3 at 12’ (purchased 16’, then cut them down to 12’)
Green-treat boards – 4 at 2x8x14’
Pallets - 9 at 40” wide
My coop is very special to me, and I am so thankful and proud of my family who persevered with me to make this and complete it in time to meet a deadline and spend as little money as possible.
At the beginning of the adventure, it was mid July. We were borrowing a hog trap from a neighbor to keep the chickens in, but he needed it back by August 1st. We didn’t have anywhere to put the chickens after returning the hog trap, so we put our thinking caps on.
On the edge of a patch of woods, there was a strange piece of equipment that had a tree growing up through it. We thought the axle and wheels would do well for the base of a mobile coop.
In the picture below, you can still see part of the tree stump.
We have a friend who is a mechanic, and who had the equipment necessary to strip all the excess metal and unneeded parts. So, we took this down to his shop, and set it there until we could work on it. In the mean time, maybe somebody would see it and tell us what it was.
Sure enough, another friend saw it and told us it was used in haying, to transfer square bales from the ground to a wagon. He also told us someone might pay well for it at an auction.
We told him what we had in mind to use it for, and he mentioned he had a boat trailer that might work better. We agreed to trade our piece for his boat trailer.
When my dad went to pick the trailer up, our friend said he had been thinking, and he also had the running gear for a hay wagon. Perhaps that would be better? You bet! We had actually been thinking a hay wagon would be perfect.
Here is the hay wagon running gear.
It is now July 24th. We had better get busy! We started by attaching 4 pressure treated 2x8x14’s to tabs on the running gear.
We used carriage bolts with lock washers to keep the nuts from backing out as the coop gets moved and jostled with uneven terrain.
Then we proceeded with constructing the frame and flooring.
We used nails to secure the 2 x 4 frame together with cross members at 24” on-centers.
One of our main goals in making this coop was to use what we had on hand. So all the lumber except the green-treat we found here stored in the old chicken barn.
For the flooring, we used 1” thick rough-sawn oak boards.
After completing the floor and frame, we secured it to the green-treat boards on the running gear using blocks of wood and lag bolts.
These are the nesting boxes that I used (I got them from a friend.). They each have 10 nesting boxes, so I ended up using only 2 of the 4 that you see here.
Then it was time for the walls. We used 40” pallets, securing them to the base frame with 4 ½” lag bolts. We also secured the pallets to each other which helped with the rigidity as well as a board across the top of the pallets length wise.
On the back where the door is, we cut a pallet in half and secured one half on each side. We then custom made our door and frame to fit the width in between the two half-pallets.
After the walls, then came the roof. I purchased 3 – 16’ cattle panels, which we cut down to 12’. We hooped them over the walls, and secured them to the outside of the pallets with screws and fender washers.
Then – the sheet metal. We also found this in the chicken barn.
Here is a corner detail, where we bent the metal over using a cinder block, to help keep rain out.
My dad pounding with the cinder block.
For covering the roof with the sheet metal, we used strips of wood on the inside, which we screwed the metal to from the outside. This then sandwiched the cattle panels in-between.
Here is a (very dark) picture of the door frame. Again, oak rough-sawn lumber.
We also screwed strips of wood on the ends, which helped with the rigidity.
Testing the door after hanging it. I painted the door, the porch, the window, and also the floor to help with weathering.
I covered the door and window with hardware cloth, using screws and fender washers to secure.
My sister made an awning for the window, to keep the rain out. She designed her template, cut it out of the sheet metal, and then bent it into the correct shape once again using the cinder block. We then screwed it on with the sheet metal screws. There are tabs on the side and then a piece on the top that holds most of the weight of the awning.
You can also see above the window we bent the metal over on the roof. On the back by the door, instead of bending it over, we left about a 6” overhang.
The chicken door is opened from the inside, sliding up and then suspended by a wire bent into a hook.
When closed, a block of wood swivels on a screw to lock it so it can not be opened. No raccoons allowed.
Here you can see the pallets on the inside.
The roosts pivot with lag bolts attached into the window frame, so they can be hung out of the way for cleaning. Right now I have a piece of twine to tie them up with.
The very bottom roost is shorter to allow for the nesting boxes. That way when you lift the roosts, they will not catch on the boxes.
Now, what would happen if the wind shut your door while you were inside? You would be stuck. So we attached a string to the latch, running it through to the inside of the coop. You can see in the upper left of the picture, there is a short piece of hose to run the string through, so it doesn’t catch on anything.
Here is the ladder for the chickens. It slides in and out underneath the porch for easy moving of the coop.
Of course there has to be decoration somewhere…
The metal did have old screw holes in it, so we filled those with Wet/Dry Plastic Asphalt Roofing Caulk. (Also known as Black Jack).
The coop was completed in time, and our neighbor’s hog trap was returned to him per request.
My total cost was $225.12. I purchased the Cattle panels, 2x8x14 treated boards, hardware cloth, Carriage bolts, and hardware such as nuts, washers, lock washers, lag bolts, fender washers, door hinges and etc. The paint was given by a friend who didn’t need it anymore, and we had miscellaneous screws, nails and a latch on hand that did not need to be purchased. All other materials were re-used.
Although 2 or 3 people can move this coop by one pulling with the tongue, and the others pushing from the back, it is easier to use our 20hp garden tractor. By housing them in the pasture and letting them free range there, we use this as a way to spread the chicken droppings throughout the pasture, one day at a time.
I learned a lot about reusing things that previously might have been viewed as ‘junk’, and how the finished product can actually be very pleasing. I also value the time spent with my family in the construction of this coop. My suggestion to others building a coop (or perhaps something else) would be to do it with family or friends. Not only does the saying “many hands make light work” come true, but the end result is much more rewarding.