So we got our first chickens 4 years ago. We started small with only two, Lucy(RIR) and Ethel(Buff Orpinton). There are only two of us and how many eggs do we really need??? At the time, we bought just a tiny prefab coop and added a run(aka, the Hen Pen) that was completely enclosed and predator proof. Since they are always safe, the coop door has never had to be closed. On days when I am out in the yard, I carry them over to our fenced in garden area where they can do chicken stuff...scratch and eat weeds and grass and bugs. But now, chicken math has worked it's way into the equation! It's time for a new coop! Having dealt with what we have had for four years now, I was pretty sure about what was needed and what wasn't. Between first hand knowledge and BYC inspiration, this is what I came up with and thought I would share it with you.

This is what we started with. Not much to look at but the girls were happy, safe, warm and dry. The roof of the hen pen is hinged in the middle and both sides raise and prop up so I can get in through the gate to take care of business. The whole kit and kaboodle was moved to another spot while we demoed and leveled for the new digs.

After the tear down.


Squared and leveled. This area was on a slight slope. The plan was to re-furbish and re-use the existing hen pen so all those measurements were taken into account when designing the new coop.


I used 4x4s for the legs and all the rest of the framing was built with 2x3s. The footprint of the coop was small, 3x5.5 so it didn't need to be built like Fort Knox. And I didn't feel the need to make it any larger because the girls NEVER spend any time in there other than to sleep and to lay.


The nest boxes will be on the left and the roosts on the right.

Another angle.


Rafters notched and on. Hardware cloth on the windows.


The coop is pretty well shaded/sheltered but I made the front overhang extra long to make sure there was plenty of shade in the summer.


I laid down vinyl flooring prior to putting up the walls.


I used foam board rather than plywood for the roof because it was lighter, cheaper, wouldn't rot and hopefully provide a little insulation from the summer sun. Also, the siding was t1-11 primed siding that was painted before it was cut/put on.


Interior view, the nest boxes are about 16x16 so plenty of room to kick the shavings around. I decided on interior boxes because I always had trouble keeping the rain out of the exterior boxes and from what I read on BYC, it was a pretty common problem. The board at the back of the nest boxes slides up and out so when they need to be cleaned, we can just sweep the shavings out. I used green corrugated polycarbonate for the roofing.


The roosts were elevated over a poop board. I put a boot tray (Amazon) on the poop board that I line with newspaper and just roll it up and carry it to the compost every couple of days. Easy peasy. The roosts and poop board are completely removable so I can climb all the way in the coop if I need to.The girls have a short ramp to get up to bed. I don't even keep any litter in the coop itself because as I said, our weather here is pretty good year round so they don't spend any time AT ALL in there. Even when we have rain, they prefer to stay outside in a sheltered area.


Put the finishing touches, ramp, trim, plexi glass windows in the front, the back window covering is just the piece of paneling that I cut out. I put hinges on the bottom so it can just drop down to open or close. (I will probably put another window in this door behind the roosts.)


Hen pen back in place. Total run area is 5.5x10.


And the finished product! total cost was about $350, everything new, purchased at Home Depot or Amazon.The door to the nest boxes drops down to get to the eggs. I'm in the process of building an extension for the hen pen. All the shade in the pictures is coming from a large apple tree. I'm building an enclosure around that, that will connect to the original hen pen. It's about 10x10. Now we're ready for 2 more girls. We've decided on an Amerucana and an Austalorp. Unfortunatley, here in SoCal, we've had a quarantine on poultry for about a year and a half due to Newcastle disease. So it's a waiting game for us...but we're ready!

So here's an update! I've added what I'm calling the "veranda"...(I know it's not really but it sounds fancy). I built another space for them to roam in, they love it's 8x8, 24' high. The top lifts up on both sides to give me access if I need it. I built a tunnel to connect the two areas.





I was worried that the girls would have a hard time figuring out how to go through the tunnel. Boy was I wrong. They're so nosey about everything, they were through before I was even finished putting on the wire cage.


Last pictures, I painted the hardware cloth flat black with a very small roller. I had seen this done on pinterest. It basically makes the wire disappear so you can see in without the glare of the wire. I did kind of a checkerboard pattern just to compare and see the effect. You can see how visible the girls are in the black areas. I then finished painting the rest and it looks quite sharp!

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chero lyr
I live in southern California with my wife and Schnauzer. We are on a half acre and besides the girls to keep me busy, we have numerous fruit trees and gardens. I retired last year and building a new coop was one of many projects that have been on my to-do list for a long time!


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