Since buying my house I've fallen in love with chicken-owning, but not so much in love with the old and badly-placed chicken coop that came with the property. When I discovered a nice stack of used corrugated metal roof panels hidden behind a shed at my inlaws, I decided it was time to build a new coop and place it in a better location on the property. Hopefully this article might inspire someone else to build their own chicken estate!
I looked at a lot of chicken coops online for my inspiration and came up a handful of requirements:
- Deep bedding system because I don't like regular chores and with floor height tall enough to simply rake out contents into a wheelbarrow instead of shoveling from floor height.
- Secure. New coop is adjacent 20ac of wilderness and a creek about 50ft away that all the local wildlife use as a thoroughfare.
- Big enough to house 12-24 chickens and keep them happy enough during the week as they only free range on weekends. The run I built is just adequate space for this, but I'll be making an additional run extension in the future.
- Covered/partially covered run, to provide a dry area during rainy months.
- Enclosed storage area. Metal trash cans have worked fine and are rodent-secure, but mine all tend to drip water on the feed inside where handle connects to lid....and I'm just tired of seeing them.
- Contemporary/modern aesthetics.
I didn't want to just copy one of the many awesome coops I got inspiration from, so I just started sketching to get an idea of what I generally wanted. This was also to work out general sizes of things to do some of the math and maximize the use of materials. Wife wanted cedar fence board cladding (because of the color they turn when weathered) and this was also a way to sketch out the orientation of the boards.
In the end, I didn't exactly follow any actual plans or my drawings other than general dimensions as stated, but this structure is so simple that sizes can be changed to accommodate any build.
I do have some experience with fabrication and creating things, but this is the biggest project I've ever fabricated myself and I'm proud to say that I did it without anyone's help, pretty much just on weekends and free-time.
I've included a few drawings that aren't doodles and may help others figure stuff out. I can always make more drawings if needed.
- Coop footprint is 5'W x 8'D = 40sq ft.
- Entire structure's footprint is 8'D x 24'W = 192sq ft, but there's a 3'x4' storage area under the coop that eats into the run, so more like 180sq ft of run space.
- Wall height under the rafters is 7.5'T front wall, 6'T rear wall.
- The terrain is sloped, so there is an 8" height change at each level.
I got the 12ft corrugated roof panels for free, so that was a nice savings. Looking at my receipts, I'm estimating I spent shy of $1500 on all my other materials: cinder block, concrete, pressure treated 2x4s, hardware, paint, etc. Sure I could have spent a fraction of this or repurposed materials, but I justified the expense with a "do it once, do it right" attitude and also as an investment because my toddlers will eat quite a few eggs by the time they're adults.
I used my Prius "pri-kup truck" daily commuter to haul most of the materials only because I was doing Home Depot runs after work. The longer stuff (roof panels and 12ft 2x4s) I used a truck - but I don't see why someone couldn't use a roof rack or simply have it delivered.
I just started out by digging some trenches for my 8x24 cinder block foundation to sit in and set on some pea-gravel I found in the corner of the property
Didn't have enough cinder block to do the whole perimeter, so I got the first section under the coop set in concrete so I could start building on it in the meantime. Here's the start of the coop portion, the four corners are set at 8' x 5', the top of the floor joists is at 36" above the brick so it clears the height of a cart when cleaning out. Underneath will be storage and run space.
Once I got the perimeter/rim joists of the floor leveled out and fixed to the 2x4 corner posts, I used a horizontal ledger board underneath the floor joists to save on buying StrongTies; jack-studs went underneath to support and double up the corner posts; I also framed out the storage area underneath. Next I installed some OSB ply on my platforms. I was going to pre-fab the wall framing, which is pretty straightforward and would make copying this coop fairly easy for someone - but instead I decided it was unnecessary for a chicken coop and just built straight off the floor. After getting the roof pitch figured out, I cut the corner posts accordingly and got things anchored
Once the wall framing was in, I installed OSB to hold it all together - both sides.
Front door was probably the trickiest part of the build. I wanted there to be a big door for maintenance, but also a smaller daily access door for harvesting eggs -- enter the door within a door.
Nesting boxes got built and test-fit to make sure things clear the door when open - they do.
It was at this point that for whatever reason I decided 3 nesting boxes wasn't enough - so I built three more down below, which are only accessible from the run. Some big chickens showed up to test out the boxes
Then I started figuring out all the rest of the coop doors.
There was a bunch of leftover exterior paint in a shed, so I mixed it all up and this is the resulting color. My wife bought some gray she liked for all the areas that would be exposed paint. Figured the cedar boards would cover most of the mashup color underneath and whatever would be visible in the seams would be ok since they'd change color over time. If I did it again I'd just paint it all with the gray.
Here's the beginning of the cedar siding. I used a pneumatic nail gun and shot them in at opposing angles so the boards wouldn't pop loose as easily over time
After running out of cedar fence boards I started working on the next section of run since I had those materials already. I also started making the main entry human door
...then I quickly realized I'd need to finish up the foundation ASAP before I could keep going. Here you can see how I set the blocks - some got rebar and a solid-fill, the rest are filled halfway with rock and capped with concrete -- this was to not make it so permanent just in case I ever have to demo the coop. The coop/run also just bolts to the foundation, so in theory I could simply lift it off with a forklift - again, just in case.
Here's all the run framework mostly completed. The extra rafter on the right-side is extra support structure for future pullup bar/rings if I ever get motivated to exercise, hahaha
Hardware cloth walls being installed. (Tip: cut it with angle grinder, sooooooooo much easier!)
I used pneumatic staples around every 3".
Finished up the walls and moved on to the roof. You can kinda see in the pics that I have a hardware cloth perimeter skirting on the run area, it's at least 16" wide. There is also rock underneath it along the perimeter and rock will end up on top of it too. Interior floor I last minute decided to cover with hardware cloth after seeing evidence of a mole trying to come up from below. Ideally I would have taken out more dirt to set it deeper, but I think it's enough as they have at least 6" of material above and I haven't yet noticed them digging all the way down to the hardware cloth except for the two areas I knew were shallow.
Here are some shots of the coop to show how it all got finished up. I was originally going to install plastic sheeting - either 1/16" plastic wall panels or a piece of HDPE like on the Carolina Coops, but in the end I just decided to do like 4 coats of semi-gloss white paint. I can always add the plastic in the future. Interior features removable baffles/tailgates to hold back the deep bedding from falling out the door or if you remove the nest boxes. The continuous window got upgraded with swing-down doors on a pulley system, so I can close them off individually if it's cold and windy - probably not that necessary here in CA where the snow doesn't stick. The roosting bars are 2x3 in horizontal orientation since I've seen debate over 2x2 vs 2x4 bars, lol. Also they're installed with a simple hook/loop connection so I can easily remove them.
The board above nexting boxes isn't a poop board, more of an anti-poop board to keep it from depositing in the nesting boxes, due to location of roosting bars above. I'm already planning to alter the tall-side roost bars since these are the prime roost area and they're all pooping on top of that board, lol.
Here's the nest box area showing that the nest boxes simply slide out for maintenance
Bedding in and now ready for some chickens!
When you want to collect eggs, simply drop down the tailgate doors at the nest boxes
Finally got my storage area enclosed. In the future I may install a full extension sliding drawer/platform to pull everything out. BTW that's an 11lb bag of BSF grubs from Amazon on the left-side, which the chickens seem to love just as much as mealworms, if not more!
Here were are inside the finished up run - I've got arborist mulch on the ground to soak up the funk. The aluminum boat their dirt bath area was already on the property, so I used it as my dirt bath. It's ~4x8 footprint and filled with a mix of dirt/sand/diatomaceous earth/wood ashes. Overhead branches were my way to expand and provide more usable space for the chickens so they're not so crowded in the run. They all seem to LOVE it up there and a few of them even been sleeping there instead of in the coop!
And lastly, here is the new chicken waterer I made. (Article for those interested)
Thanks for looking!