Planning out our coop
We thought a lot about what we wanted from our coop before we built it. We used this site and a lot of other resources to make sure we hit did it right the first time. We live in Wisconsin so our climate and our surrounding area impacted a lot of our decisions.
Our initial requirements were:
- Big enough inside the coop for the Chickens to spend a few days during the cold
- Tall enough for us humans to stand in while cleaning and checking on the birds
- Easy to clean
- Storage for Food, treats and supplies
- Easy access to nesting boxes
- Well ventilated
- Large secure run. We have lots of hawks, owls and four-legged predators in our area and our neighbors lose a lot of chickens.
- Roosting space in and out of the coop
- A brooder box in the coop for introducing new chickens.
- Big enough for about twenty chickens. Mix of Bantams and Full Sized
Neither myself nor my wife had ever built anything on this scale so we enlisted the help of a family member who planned this out in his head, so sadly there aren't any plans. However, the coop itself is 12 feet by 8 feet and stands about 8 feed tall. The run itself is 12 feet by 12 feet. The entire coop has 22 inches of hardware cloth coming out all around it perpendicular to the ground to prevent burrowing. The run has hardware cloth panels along the bottom two feet of the run, goat fencing panels up to the top and chicken wire (to protect from flying predators) above the run.
Building Progress Pictures:
Just like any other building we set down a foundation using 2x6s. We covered that with 3 sheets of 4'x8' OSB and started building up wall sections.
The studs here are 16 inches apart. In our build we didn't level the ground before building. Instead we dropped 9 4x4 posts into the ground with concrete and started our floor off the ground so there is a gap under the coop. I would have preferred a larger gap of about 14 inches for a crawl space but building it on the ground will work just as well.
Initial progress was quick. We recycled some storm windows and put up some half inch thick paneling for the siding.
We roofed this just like any other building. The trusses were 24 inches apart to save on cost. OSB with tar paper and architectural shingles. The mid-west can get some tornadoes so the roof has some hurricane anchors tying to to the studs. We added some vented soffit and gutters. The gutters run down into a rain barrel which is great for cleaning out waterers and feeders.
Inside we laid down some Vinyl flooring. We just got the cheapest remnants from the hardware store we could find. These were the nesting boxes we made for the chickens. There is a hinged door on the outside that allows us to access all of the boxes, but normally we just walk into the coop to get the eggs.
For the run we put 4x4s every 4 feet and set them with concrete. Our ground was uneven so we bought them long and leveled the tops afterwards. Each gap will have two panels in it. The bottom panel is hardware cloth, 24 inches tall with 22 inches extra at the bottom for ground barrier. The top panel is goat fencing with 2 inch by 3 inch holes.
Here is the finished run without the surrounding landscaping. We put Bricks around the outside to hold down the wire and have since added top soil and some chicken friendly plants. We dropped one more post in the center of the run. That post has some lower roosting bars and it supports some small cross beams that allow us to put the chicken wire overhead.
Here is a final walk-around video of the coop before we painted it:
Near the end of the video you can see the interior. We have roosting bars in one corner with a brooder box under that. To help with clean-up we have two rolling plastic bins that catch the poo from the roosting chickens. There is also a cabinet hung on the wall for a bit of storage.
This is after we painted it. We painted it the same color as our home which helped since we could just re-use the paint we had left over.
Improving on the Design:
We love our coop but there is a lot that we have changed since we built it and a few more things we want to change. We had never raised chickens before so we had to learn along the way.
- Sand in the run! I can't stress this enough we got some low silica contractor sand and put it in the run and it made a huge difference. As much as we focused on making the interior easy to clean, it took us way to long to figure out this for the exterior.
- Better Storage. The cabinet just isn't enough. We have feed bins on the floor and the chickens roost on top of them sometimes. We are going to section off that area to keep it cleaner.
- The Panel Idea for the run turned out great. It was expensive though, especially if you use AC3 lumber. It is cheaper to just staple the wire to the posts.
- Power. We run extension cords out to the coop in the winter so we can heat it with a small flat panel radiator and have a heated waterer. I want to run power from the house or just get some solar out there to handle it.
- The egg door was a cool idea but we never use it. It is easy enough to just walk in and grab the eggs.
- Covered Run! I would love to extend the roof out over the run. There are rainy days that I hate to have them cooped up inside. They have space in the coop to move around comfortably but the chickens love it outside and a covered run would do wonders.
What we learned:
We really went into this blind. I knew absolutely nothing about chickens when we built this but all in all I am very happy with the result. Once we finish with the modifications I listed above I honestly can't think of a single thing to add. Our chickens don't have to fear any predators and that gives us peace of mind. The coop is very easy to clean, it takes less than 40 minutes from start to finish thanks to the vinyl floor and the plastic bins.
Here is our first rooster "Shorty" living it up in the run.