Urban Coop - Small, Movable and Self contained
(started as a coop, turned into a tractor)
REVISED: The coop described below has some modifications.

Please consider both pages if you have questions.

We live near San Francisco Bay in a very temperate climate; rarely freezing in winter. The backyard is ~30x60feet and mostly lawn and plants. In the past there have been racoons in the neighborhood although I am not aware of any now, but want to design something coon proof anyway. Of course there are rats, squirrels, feral cats, crows and the occasional bird of prey.
Since starting on the adventure I'm finding more and more people who raised chickens once upon a time. In almost every case the story ends the same. They had chicks or chickens, they loved the chick/chickens, a predator got to the them and the owners were so heartbroken by the loss that they gave up and decided not to go through that trauma again. That is so sad. But it re-enforces my design objective to make this thing predator proof from the beginning. The chickies in the brooder have already bonded with us and us with them. We are already past the point of heartbreak if something were to happen to them.

I typically go overboard on design, so here are some of the things I'm doing based on what I've read:

  • Downstairs has 2 solid walls to give the hens a safe corner to run to in case a coon tries to get them. The other 2 walls are 1/2" wire.
  • The bottom will have welded wire fence 2”x4” to prevent anything from burrowing in, but letting the hens have access to the earth
  • I plan on moving this thing if they are scratching too much in one area. Maybe even a couple of wheels on it.
  • I built a run which would attach, 4'x8'
  • I made some modifications later
  • I installed a pipe feeder

This coop in part is designed around the sizes of available material. The panels are cut from 2 sheets of plywood with almost no scrap. The roof comes from a single panel cut in half.
Here's another tidbit of information: all the material was rough cut at the lumberyard to fit in my car. It's a sedan and the back seat folds down. I can fit 8 foot long lumber and 3'x5' plywood, but nothing bigger! You don't need a pickup truck to build this coop!
The coop I am building is 3'x4'. The bottom will rest on the earth with a ramp up through the floor into the coop above. One or two nesting boxes and a roost or two. Keeping this thing clean is a priority, so one of the features I have is an easy opening top/side and also a removable floor. If the floor gets really nasty it could be easily replaced as well.
So here's the beginnings of the coop:

You can see I prepaint everything that in the end will be painted. One coat of primer and one top coat. The final coat comes after the assembly is complete. The result is a neat, high quality and durable finish. After reading more on BYC I decided to paint the interior too, and wished I was able to follow my own advice. Next time cut all the plywood, then paint it ALL, outside AND inside before assembly. I just spent a fair amount of time priming and painting the inside of this fella as well as quite a few pieces you don't see. It sure would have been a lot easier with a roller!
Wire on the bottom and notice the open frame for the removable floor:


Hope the girls can scratch though. (Turns out they can.)

Here are my ORIGINAL PLANS for this coop. But I sent the plans to my genius mechanical engineer brother and he redesigned the whole lid for me. Wait 'til you see it! ... just got the plans today.

The chicks were getting so big so quickly I decided to build the run before working more on the coop:

Plans are available if you want to see how to do this.

The long point at the bottom is for mounting a counterweight which I determined to be unnecessary due to the friction of the pivot. Without the counterweight gravity holds it either opened or closed very nicely.

Decided to put welded wire under the roof, just to be sure to keep the varmits out in case they get any ideas about tearing at the roof. It's pretty flimsey (plastic) I suppose.

Lid open, removable floor, removable front wall.

Front wall in place:

Now to finish out the lower level:
All closed up.

Removable front and chicken ladder: ( I know they can go up it. Haven't seen them come down yet.)

Happy homemakers: