Softsilkie's Idaho Coops

One thing you have probably noticed is that my coops don't look too nice. My coops are not fancy, just practical. That's probably why they're at the very back of the yard! 😂 But, they were cheap. The most expensive thing we used was probably the chicken wire!

I currently have three medium-sized coops: the Triangle Coop, the Tall Coop, and the Broody Coop. I started with just one, and as I practiced chicken addition, I made the rest. Then I decided to make a run to connect them all.


(Click the pictures to enlarge)


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The Triangle Coop

My first coop, made in 2012. Can comfortably hold six standard-sized chickens. We actually got this idea offline, but I don't remember where. This one is pretty hard to measure and describe, but just keep in mind that the others aren't this confusing.

At first we planned to move it around the yard so the chickens could peck at new grass every month, but every time we went on vacation, the chickens were locked in the coop full time for however long we were gone. We decided the solution was to build a predator proof run so the chickens could get some stretching space while still being locked up. And while we were at it, we decided to connect it to the new coop (the Tall Coop) too. But it wasn't worth the effort to hook and unhook the coops every time we wanted to move them, so they became stationary. Though maybe someday I'll unhook the Triangle Coop and move it around the yard again!


This coop starts with a wooden frame. The top is covered with a screwed down piece of sheet metal, and the bottom half is double wrapped in chicken wire. Because of the wire below, no animals can dig in.

As you already know, the coop has two levels. The top has two nesting boxes and one roost. There are two top doors, one on each side. When I built the run I didn't think it all through, and now it is hard to open the side door on the nesting box side. I can only open it a few inches and it makes it hard to grab the eggs.

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Triangle Coop top from the roost side (flash was on).

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Triangle Coop Nesting Boxes (flash was on).

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Bottom of the Triangle Coop from the back door view.


The wire on the run isn't completely secured to the Triangle Coop, because that would make it completely impossible to collect eggs. We didn't think this was a problem until one week a skunk got in and literally cuddled with the chickens while eating all the eggs. After this happened we nailed down a board on top to block the entrance. But after a couple of years, the board had rotted so badly it was practicably useless. So as of today I have some bin lids and a board held down with a brick on top of the rotted board.

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In this picture you can see the "skunk block" and the board (and bin lid) blocking the entrance to the run.

The bottom has the food and water. You can access the water from the water door. The water door has a little hole at the top to make room for a hose. We can connect the hose to the garden so the water will fill up automatically.

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Triangle Coop water door. It is held down with both a a twisting nail in the upper right corner and a cinder brick.

There used to be a built in feeder at the back end of the coop, but in May 2020 we took it out and replaced it with a door so we could get into the coop easier.

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Back view of the coop. At the bottom you can see the back door secured with a latch. The two boards sticking out are what you can hold when you move the coop.

We used to have a door on the other side of the coop but when we built the run (in 2015) we took it out. It's still a entrance, it just doesn't have a closing door. Now whenever I want to close this coop off from the run I put a board or two in between.

Pros:

-Good coop in windstorms because the top is very sheltered!

-Chickens can get sunlight and stretch their wings in the lower half.

-Snow and rain slides off the roof easily because of the sharp slant.

-Easy access to water bucket.

Cons:

-Terrible ventilation. For this reason I prefer to only use it as a summer coop. You can read more about ventilation in this article: Chicken Coop Ventilation - Go Out There And Cut More Holes In Your Coop!

-Top is hard to clean. You have to unscrew the screws and lift up the metal sheet to clean it.

-Hard to open the side door to collect eggs. But this is more because of the run than the coop.


I don't want to bore you with measurements but if you want them you can find them by clicking the 'Spoilers'.


All three sides are 5 feet long.
From the ground to the top it is 4.5 feet tall.
The base length is 6 feet.
Back door: 1.5 foot square.
Door to run:
Water door: 18" by 22"
Each of the sides of the top side doors are 3 feet.
Nesting box height: 1 foot
Nesting box width: 15"
Nesting box depth: 15"
Roost: It is a bumpy triangle, with each side being about 2"
Roost height: 1 foot


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The Tall Coop

Out of all my coops, this one is my favorite. Made in 2015. It is my largest and it can very comfortably hold 8 standard-sized chickens.
It is made from a wooden box.


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Close up of the human door. Note: only the two middle latches work. The outer two are broken and I haven't bothered to remove them yet.

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View of the coop from just inside the human door.


The chicken door is a hole that can be shut by pulling out the stick that holds it up. The stick goes through a hole in the coop at just the right height. The two boards on the side keep the door from falling forward.

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Outside of the Tall Coop chicken door. You can see the stick at the base of the door.

These nesting boxes are large and roomy. They are suspended just above the roost, which lets the chickens use both roosts as stairs up to the boxes!

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Close up of one of the nesting boxes.


On the bottom of the nesting boxes I hung a hook. On this hook we can put a water bucket with nipples at the bottom, and we can put a feeder on the cinder blocks below.

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Hook and cinderblocks.


Behind the nesting boxes is an egg door. But this "egg" door is more for easy cleaning than collecting eggs. Because there is no lip, whenever you open it to collect eggs, lots of the nesting materiel falls out. But it works really well for cleaning, and I wouldn't have it any other way!

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Egg door, opened and closed.

The roof is a grooved and slanted sheet of metal nailed to the top.

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Tall Coop roofing.

The windows have a single layer of chicken wire on them. They have a hinged cover so I can open and close them whenever I want. (I use the same method in the Broody Coop.)

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Tall Coop window.

Height: 6 feet.
Width: 44" by 52"
Coop height off ground: 3.5"
Human door height and width: 57" by 18"
Chicken door height and width: 10.5" by 9"
Windows width (the two windows have different widths): 31.25" and 29.5"
Windows height: 12"
Roosts: 1.5" by 1.5"
Roost heights: 1 foot and 2.5 feet.
Nesting box height: 13.5"
Nesting box width: 20.5"
Nesting box depth: 14"
Nest box height above floor: 31.75"
Egg door: 5.5" by 28"


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The Broody Coop

This coop is my newest addition, created in 2019. This coop follows the design of the Tall Coop, but is smaller. It can hold the same amount of chickens as the Tall Coop (8 standard-sized chickens) on the roosts but is overall more crowded. Actually, this box is the largest but I turned the back half into a chicken shed to store the food.

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View of the Broody Coop just outside the human door.

This coop was named because whenever I have a broody hen, this is the coop I prefer them to brood in.

The window on the far side is as large as possible for the size of the coop. The second window is smaller because it is on the same side as the human door.

The chicken door is the same kind of door as the Tall Coop, except that instead of being held up by a stick, this one uses two nails and wire (see picture). I like the wire more because I feel like it is more secure and less likely to fall.

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Broody Coop chicken door. The wire at the top is tied to a nail higher up.

This coop doesn't have a permanent nesting box. Instead, I use an old bin with a whole in the side that used to be for rabbits. It is a little wider then the door which makes it tough to squeeze in and out. In the measurements I marked this nesting box's width as 17" and its depth as 13.5", but really that is the measurements for the bottom of the bin, the top of the bin is wider.

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Broody Coop nesting bin without lid.


The Broody Coop has the same kind of roofing as the Tall Coop.

In the corner I placed some cinder blocks on which I can place a feeder when needed. The water is normally kept outside, but I could bring it in if needed.

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Close up of the right side of the Broody Coop. In the right corner you can see the cinderblocks for the feeder.

My favorite part about this coop is that it has its own private run! This run is taller than the main run but is a smaller area. The runs share a side, and there is a connecting door that can be opened when wanted. The problem is, you have to crawl through the poop into the back of the private run to open it. But once open, it all becomes one big run and connects all the coops.

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private run view from the run doors

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private run view from the top. I'm standing just on top of where the main run and the private run connect.

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private run main doors. Held shut by twisting nails and a brick.

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Door between the private run and the main run. Held shut by stacked bricks and a twisting nail. Picture taken from the private run side.


The private run follows the same basic design as the main run, which you can see in the next section. The main differences are that the private run has wire straight down about a foot under the ground to keep predators from digging in, while the main run is completely wrapped in wire.

Pros:

-The private run makes it my preferred coop to keep new chickens in when integrating. It is also a great place to keep a sick hen or a broody with chicks.

-It's smaller than the Tall coop, but the roosts can hold just as many chickens.

-The chicken door is held up by wire instead of a stick like the Tall Coop.

-Is doubled up with the Chicken Shed.

-Cons:

-The top of the nesting box gets pooped on when the chickens sleep, due to it being situated directly under the top roost. But because of the small space inside the coop, no alternative has become obvious to me. Thankfully, the poo is pretty easy to scrape off.


Height: 5 feet
Width: 42" by 45.5"
Human door height and width: 4 feet by 18"
Chicken door height and width: 1 foot by 9"
Windows height: 10"
Windows width: 9" and 24.5"
Coop height off ground: 4"
Nesting box height: 15"
Nesting box width: 17"
Nesting box depth: 13.5"
Roosts: 1.5" by 1.5" and 1.5" by 3.25"
Roost heights: 1 foot and 2.5 feet
Privet run height: 23"
Privet run width: 50" by 75"
Privet run main doors height and width: 24.5" by 18"
Privet run back door height and width: 16.25" by 17.75"


The Main Run, Chicken Shed, and Chicken Yard.

We built the Main Run in 2015, just after the Tall Coop. It connected the Tall Coop and the Triangle Coop. It gives the chickens more room to stretch their wings while I'm on vacation and also lets them share the same food and water system.

The Main Run is a wooden frame with several supports in the middle. It is completely wrapped in wire, too and bottom, like the Triangle Coop. It has four doors; one for the Triangle Coop, one for the Tall Coop, one leads to outside, and the last was at first an extra door before we attached it to the private door.

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Main Run view from back.

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Main Run view from door.


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Main Run door.

The only disadvantages to the run are that it's hard to crawl into if I want to catch a chicken or grab a stray egg, and that over time, chicken poop has piled and hardened on top of the wire. Soon I am planning to briefly unwire the run and remove all the poop. Wish me luck!


I briefly mentioned that the back of the Broody Coop was my Chicken Shed, but I'll go into a little more detail now.

It was made in the same year that we made the Broody Coop, 2015. This box is the biggest of all the coops, but instead of making it all one huge chicken coop (as I had hoped for) we made a wall in the middle; the Broody Coop takes up the slightly smaller half of the box while the Chicken Shed is larger.

Inside it I keep...everything! Chicken and chick food, pine shavings, oyster shells and eggshells, chick supplies, Diatomaceous Earth, and any other chicken-related supplies you can think of! I literally can't remember where I kept it all before I made the shed!

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The Chicken Shed has two hinged doors. In this picture only the top one is open.

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Supplies in the Chicken Shed.


Most of the year my chickens are in a fenced area I call the Chicken Yard. The fence is half welded wire held up by stakes and half wood. The gate is welded wire framed by wood. It has a small sheet of wood on top that seems out of place (you can see it in the picture) but it does have a purpose. It is supposed to discourage the chickens from flying to the top and escaping, but my Old English Game bantam rooster is small enough to land and balance on top. But because it keeps most of the chickens in, I consider it a success.

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Chicken Yard gate. You can see the bottom half of the "chicken barrier" on top of the gate.

My Chicken Yard used to be closer to the front yard, but the year we built the Tall Coop (2015) we moved it to the very back of the yard. As mentioned in the first paragraph, they look more than slightly messy all together!

During spring and summer, I keep my chickens in the Chicken Yard. In late fall, after most of the poisonous Virginia Creeper berries have fallen off, I let the chickens out into the yard.

My Chicken Yard is not covered or predator proof because the trees and length would make that just about impossible. But that's fine because I don't have many problems--hawks and the predators around me typically don't come out until night after I lock the chickens in the runs and coops.

The chickens are always keeping me busy by finding new places to dig under and sometimes fly out. Sometimes they scratch out the dirt around newly planted trees or make dustbaths in the most inconvenient places, but I believe it is worth it. The chickens love all the room to stretch and peck at weeds!

The Chicken Yard is mostly scratched bare of everything living except the trees by fall but when the weeds grow in the spring they party!

The Chicken Yard has plenty of trees (plus a couple Lilac bushes) and a burn pile that we burn a couple times a year. But if possible, I would recommend not having a burn pile in your Chicken Yard as it is the perfect place for the hens to hide eggs.

The Chicken Yard is about 18 x 10 yards, but don't forget that some space is taken up by the coops. The fence is 4 feet tall. The gate is 4.5 feet wide and 5.5 feet tall including the chicken block at the top.

July 18th update:
We expanded the Chicken Yard! It just started by me mentioning that I wanted to expand, and POOF! A few hours later the chickens had much more room and I sweaty clothes. I'll add more details soon!


Main Run: 75" by 103"
Chicken Shed: 45" by 43", and it's five feet tall.
Chicken Yard: About 18 by 10 yards (180 square yards, 540 square feet), but don't forget that some space is taken up by the coops, the burnpile, trees, and a few other things.
Chicken Yard fence: Wire half is 4 feet tall and wooden half is about 8 feet tall.
Chicken Yard gate: 4.5 feet wide. 5.5 feet tall, including the chicken block at the top.



Notes:

-I did not write out any plans or take pictures of the coops during construction.

-In these pictures the coops has a thin coat of paint. It still needs to be edged and probably needs a second coat, but we ran out of paint.

-In the Tall Coop and the Broody Coop the roosts are of different heights. Some people prefer them to be all the same height, but I like different heights because the chickens can use them as stairs to get to the top roosts (and nesting boxes, in the Tall Coop's case). Some say that the chickens like all their roosts to be the same height, and will refuse to sleep on the bottom roosts. But in my case the silkies and the lower-ranking hens will sleep on the bottom roosts.


-During the winter I leave the windows closed, propping them open with sticks on the warm days. In the summer, I tie them up with wire and leave them open full-time.

-I use chicken wire instead of hardware cloth. Some people may critique that, but I don't have a ton of predators around here. I have never had a predator rip the wire, but I double wrapped the Main Run and base of the Triangle Coop just in case. The windows only have one layer, but they wouldn't be easy to access. The private run currently has only one layer of wire, but I plan on adding the second soon.

-I use pine shavings as bedding, cleaning them out whenever they seem too dirty (around every month and a half). In the winter I use the deep litter method which you can read about here: (Deep Litter Method The Easiest Way To Deal With Chicken Litter Dlm)


Things I would change:

-I would make a new system for cleaning out the top of the Triangle Coop as well as get better ventilation up there.

-I would find a easy way to access (and clean) the runs and bottom of the Triangle Coop, one where I don't have to unwire everything or crawl inside.


-I would permanently secure the wire of the Main Run to the Triangle Coop.

-I would make my Chicken Yard hawk proof. I haven't had a chicken get eaten yet, but the red-tails always make me nervous. Maybe I would even try to keep out skunks and foxes and coons too.

-I would build a real door to separate the Triangle Coop and the run (right now I am just using some boards). I probably will do this soon.

-I would make Tall Coop's chicken door be held up by wire instead of a stick.

-I would add a real latch to the private run main doors.


My advice to future coop builders:

-Make your coop as big as possible. Chicken addition is addicting! You might not believe this, but if you don't listen, you will regret it later!

-Always make sure you have an easy way to clean your coops!!! Also make sure you can fully open all your doors if you add an extension.

-Consider the ventilation. Good ventilation means healthier chickens. You don't want them to suffocate!

-Make sure each coop has an indoor food and water system in case you have to separate them for whatever reason.

-Nest boxes
are necessary. If the chickens don't have a private-ish place to lay (such as on the floor) then they will get nervous and might have laying problems. They also might not lay as much. Please make nesting boxes!

-If your egg door is for collecting eggs, make sure it has a lip. Or if, like me, you just want it for cleaning, then don't give it a lip.


-If you need more ideas, check out the other BackYardChickens Coop Articles here: https://www.backyardchickens.com/articles/categories/chicken-coops.12/

-And while we're talking about BYC (BackYardChickens), if you aren't already a member, please come join the flock!




I hope this article inspires you to make a coop or two of your own! Thanks for reading!

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(Last updated July 21, 2020)
About author
SoftSilkie
I keep chickens, pigeons, cats, bees, and a rabbit!

I love nature and am working on becoming more self sufficient. I also love using my chicken knowledge to help other people!

If you have any questions or feedback about my article, please comment below or send me a PM. Don't forget to rate and review!

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