My crooked country coop

By katyvart · Jul 12, 2013 · ·
  1. katyvart
    We recently moved to the country…. And I decided, we should have chickens.
    There was an old horse lean-to on the property with a corral area. Seemed like a good place to put the chickens.


    I started reading and planning the coop. Ordered some chicks from the local feed store and got my brooder set up (box inside a large dog crate).

    Meanwhile I was still unpacking from the move, helping my husband who was recovering from surgery, taking care of the kids, and working full time.
    But I had a plan… I am an engineer… I always have a plan. The coop was coming together in my mind (even if I had not actually started working on it).

    And then my mother in law bought me a coop from some guy nearby who has chickens, so he must know what we would need in a coop.....


    But I had a plan…. This was not my vision. Oh well… It’s a good place to start from, and we will make it work. Plus my mother-in-law is awesome, and she thought I was overwhelmed with my life, and could use some help. I love the woman. I can modify the vision and make it work.
    First step is to modify the coop to what I think it should be:

    Starting design:
    Chicken wire floor (really? The person who made this actually owns chickens?)

    What I did:
    Covered the chicken wire floor with a solid wood floor (happened to have the perfect length boards from an entertainment center my father-in-law made – that we were planning to get rid of).
    Added linoleum over the floor for easy cleaning.
    Moved the roosts to allow more room for the chickens (top one was 3 inches from the wall/clean out door)
    Put the door on the front wall, permanently closing the narrow ramp down
    The opening for the ramp was only 6 inches wide.
    It was also hard to secure close
    It left a 4’ x 6” hole in the floor – reducing the room for the chickens…. So it had to go
    So we put a guillotine style door on the front with a long ramp to the ground
    I also ended up turning it around so the front of the coop was under the lean-to. I hope this will encourage the chickens to go outside in the winter…. We shall see.
    I replace the screen (like window screens) on the opening with welded wire – there are plexiglass panels to close these in the winter.

    So now the coop that sort of resembles my plan.



    Then to build the yard…
    The plan was to use the lean-to as part of the space, and extend the yard into the grassy area.
    12 x 9 lean-to plus 12 x 12 yard (about 250 sq total feet – including 100 sq feet covered section)

    The first obstacle was the old tree growing through the horse lean-to. Right in the corner. I’ll cut it down, and work around it.

    Then my parents came to help. They are also awesome. My dad is a bit of a perfectionist. So we cut it down, and dug out the stump…. Manually. 2 full day of work down, and the first obstacle is overcome.


    [​IMG] yes... we got that part out too. The whole stump was removed.

    Now, I wanted a door into the coop. I went to Habitat for Humanity’s Re-Store and bought a great exterior door with a big window in it. Figuring out how to put that full size door in the fencing seemed like a lot of work. Plus it would great to be able to see into the coop from the yard. So we framed the door into the corner of lean-to


    Can you see why I call it my crooked coop?

    The door is level.... see I even used a level to check.

    We live on 14 acres, and the chicken yard is close at the edge of the property – adjacent to our field (soybeans right now) and the woods (40 acres). So I am very worried about predators, being that close to such great habitat.
    So I dug a trench around the lean-to about 6-8” down, added hard wire, filled the trench in with rocks, and topped with dirt.




    Then to build the yard…

    The plan was to use the lean-to as part of the space, and extend the yard into the grassy area.
    12 x 9 lean-to plus 12 x 12 yard (about 250 sq total feet – including 100 sq feet covered section)

    I went for a simple approach. Add 2 posts at the corners – attach chain link fence for lean-to to post and around.
    Added hard wire at the bottom of the fence about 6 – 8” down with rocks and covered with dirt.



    So this completed my initial plan. Moved the chickens into the coop for a few days, and then opened the coop door to let them explore their new yard... They were not quite sure if it was safe to come out.


    We had put netting over the top of the yard to keep hawks out, and I realized that this would not work.
    I wanted to create a secure yard, that I don’t have to worry about the chickens at night, or if we go out of town for the weekend.

    So I had to do the first modification - closing in the coop. I added 2x4 's from the post to the top of the lean-to. Put hardwire on the sides, and chicken wire over the top.

    I still need to add braces to the structure... but this is working until I get around to it.

    And the chickens seem quite happy with their crooked coop.

    To summarize.

    Took an old horse lean-to. Used it for my covered yard. Fixed a chicken coop that we bought (to meet my specifications). And 6 weeks later - I had my very own crooked chicken coop.

    The coop is 6' x 4'
    The total run is 12 ' x 21'

    In the future I may add another coop inside the lean-to. It depends how the chickens do over the winter. Right now I think I have 6 pullets and 2 roosters. So the 6' x 4' coop is a little small if I want more chickens in the future, or more than 3 sq ft per bird. But 3 of the birds sleep on roosts in the lean-to instead of in the actual coop - that might work for them in the summer, but come winter in Michigan, that won't be such a good idea.

    Like I said, I am new to chickens and the country life. We will see how it goes.

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Recent User Reviews

  1. Nardo
    "Great re-use of a horse lean to"
    5/5, 5 out of 5, reviewed Oct 31, 2018
    I think this is a fine coop and run and I imagine that your chickens are happy here. Good job showing what you did and how you did it.
  2. Anonymous
    "Modifications to a pre-built coop and lean-to"
    4/5, 4 out of 5, reviewed Jul 14, 2018
    Awesome write-up of your journey! Loved the progress pics and all the things you were able to re-purpose!
  3. CCUK
    4/5, 4 out of 5, reviewed Jul 7, 2018
    Good coop. It's always good to plan ahead!


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  1. CarolinaHens
    Sounds like you have a very busy life and great extended family support. You will love the country life and 14 acres is my dream!
  2. Whittni
    Thanks for sharing.

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