I’ve been kicking around the idea of building a coop and raising some hens for a couple reasons. First, the eggs. Fresh eggs from chickens raised properly are much better in my opinion. Secondly, I wanted my children to experience a tiny bit of the food chain. Thirdly (is that a word?), I have a nice garden and the chickens can help me produce better compost, clean up the bugs in the yard, and aerate the lawn. Mostly, I think it would be cool to raise some chicks.
Before I built the coop, I thought out what I wanted to do. I am new to raising chickens, so I knew I was going to make some mistakes along the way. At the same time, I am sort of a nerd and do a ton of research on a topic I am about to get into.
I thought about how many birds I wanted to keep. While I am starting off with 3, I knew that I did want to expand the flock in the future once I got comfortable taking care of the small flock. I decided I wanted to build a coop and run that can handle 6-9 birds. I was going to start out with 3 this year, add 3 next year, and maybe 3 more the year after. This way I will have some birds in their prime while some of the older birds slow down production.
While my township doesn’t have many ordinances, I didn’t want to piss off the neighborhood. So I put some thought into whether or not I wanted the birds to free range or be housed in a stationary coop or run. I know there are plenty of tractors out there, but I didn’t want to HAVE to move this thing everyday. I do want the chicks to free range, but didn’t want to have to worry about them all day while I was at work. So I am attempting to have the best of both worlds. A stationary coop and run, but with a detachable run too.
I live on a small property that is a little less than ¼ acre. I didn’t have a ton of space. I ended up building something that was probably a little bigger than I really expected. I sort of just winged it after looking at a ton of photos here on BackyardChickens.com. I decided to build the coop on the south side of my house. I had a hop garden there, but decided to rip that out for the girls.
I came up with a plan for the coop. I’m not good with cad software and my hand drawing stinks, so I used a photoshop like program to sketch everything out. This is what I came up with. (note: the vertical garden in in phase 2)
I ripped out the hop rhizomes that I had in that garden and donated them to my local homebrew club members. I started off building the foundation. I work on computers for a living and am not in construction at all. I am a wannabe when it comes to building things. I do enjoy the work and could build some solid things, but when you look up close, you can see all my flaws. Just putting that warning out there to thwart any “you built that wrong” comments.
I started by just placing some cider blocks down. I didn’t want the wood directly on the dirt, so I used general construction cinder blocks. They were cheap. I didn’t want to build a permanent concrete foundation. I outlined the cinder blocks with 12”x12” red patio brick.
You can’t see it, but the ground is pretty unlevel, so I had to level it out as much as I could. It’s close, but not perfect.
I started building the frame to the coop. I used 4x4 pressure treated wood for the main supports to the coop. I don’t know if this was overkill, but I figured it was better to be safe than sorry.
I wish I took a photo halfway through this next step to show what I did for the roof, but when you are on a roll, you are on a roll. Basically, I made the back half of the coop 1 foot shorter than the front. Then laid 2x4’s down, drilling them into the frame. I then laid some plywood on top. This was the first roof I built, but I think it came out pretty good. This leaves a 3 ½ in gap between the top of the coop and the roof for ventilation.
Another look at the roof. I had a the beginning of the nest boxes and a few extra studs in the design.
I got the door to the run on and the T-11 plywood siding on the coop walls.
Here is a side view of where the next boxes are going.
Finished framing out the next boxes and the lid to open and grab the eggs.
Added a frame to the window. This swings up and latched on to the roof to keep it open.
Added the front door to the coop with a little window. The window opens up like the side window and has a hook to keep it open for air flow in the summer. It’s all starting to come together.
My daughter Raegan checking out the coop.
A shot from the other side of the coop.
My daughter Jocelyn is proud of the coop. You can see the roof is now shingled. I had my brother in law come over and knock that out for me. He did it in about 20 minutes and saved me a whole day of figuring that all out. To the right, you can see the beginning of the mobile part of the run.
Built a little ladder for the girls.
I also built the coop door to keep the predators out and the chicks in.
I got the hardware cloth screens all in and the coop painted. It’s about done. (for now)
I built a feed pipe out of 4” PVC. It can hold a ton of food for the girls. I tried to primer and paint it. It came out ok, but PVC don’t paint so well. Looks better than a bright white pipe.
This is what it looks like inside the coop. This is the girls first day in the new coop. I put the practice roosting bar that was in their brooder in with them for comfort. They ran to it at first, but the took to their new permanent one right away.
Another shot inside. This is a mansion compared to their brooder box. I built a sand pit under the roosting bar. Since the poop outside most of the day and poop while on the roosting bar at night, I use the sand like a kitty litter box. I scoop out the poop and throw it into the compost pile. This keeps the pine shavings cleaner longer.
The sandpit potty the morning after their first night out in the coop. Looks like a success.
I still need to work on the mobile part of the run. I have been researching how to add fold up wheels. I’m not worried right at this moment, I will work on that over the summer. I will also be adding some watering nipples to the inside and outside of the coop. I am going to add a gutter across the back that leads to a rain barrel. I will update this coop post when those are added.
Hope you enjoy my coop build as much as I did.