Original Version


Renovated (in it's temporary position)




This small coop, intended for 4 chickens, is a very good option for the US Southeast or any other hot, humid climate that’s subject to heavy rain because it’s extremely well-ventilated and has sufficient roof overhangs to keep rain out -- a claim tested and proven in Hurricane Florence.

At 4’x4’x4’ it is, IMO, as small as a coop should ever be. It gives you 16 square feet of space with enough height to allow for a good thickness of bedding with the nestboxes above the level of the bedding, the roosts above the nestboxes, and the ventilation above the chickens’s heads when they’re settled on their roosts (though they can poke their heads up high enough to look out if they want to).

Originally, we had 3 nestboxes and an attached, 4’x8’, half-high run that extended under the coop, which was raised 18” above the ground, for a total of 48 square feet, again as small as a run ever should be. This run was roofed on the far half next to the access door, giving me a good place to put the feed and water. It also contained a perch and had room to put in a little “clutter”, often an intact straw bale.

Before renovating it in the summer of 2020 I made a pros and cons list for the original design:

Things we did right:

I would heartily recommend a monitor roof for anyone in a hot climate.
With the pop door open 24/7 except in dire emergencies and the coop located in deep shade it was never any warmer inside than the ambient air temperature outside and, as previously noted, no rain ever penetrated beyond the roof overhangs.

It was not hard to build for a competent handyman. DH and his best friend assembled the coop in one weekend and the run in another weekend. He had fun with his new Kreg jig, but it's not necessary to set the screws in pockets.

The structure is entirely sound, due to DH's family habit of over-engineering everything -- though it can be moved by 4 men with the carrying 2x4's in place (we knew we'd be moving to the country eventually). The nestbox roof was damaged, probably by a branch falling on it during Hurricane Florence, but the boxes were sound.

It *is* portable, though not so light as to be moved without serious effort.

The nest boxes were a good size even for the Brahmas.

The roost was well-placed, above the nest boxes but below the open section of the roof.

The hardware cloth defeated the efforts of a predator -- unable to tear the wire loose it attempted to rip through and failed (we added a second layer over the entire area that was damaged).

It is not difficult to clean out since the large door allows me to reach all portions of the coop with the manure fork even though I am too short to quite reach the far wall. When the first residents retired the man helping me relocate them to the freezer was easily able to reach in and get hold of them without a rodeo. (I would not make a non-walk-in coop any deeper).

The far half of the run was roofed, so that I could keep the food and water out of the coop. The chickens were able to bask in the morning sun and had to get out of the coop for exercise in all weathers. (In a sunnier location the entire run should be roofed).

We had a perch in the run, which was regularly used.

Things we did wrong:

One wall was OSB
due to having miscut the siding. Never again.

The wood in contact with the ground has rotted out. At this distance from the build we can’t remember if we bought ground-contact-rated treated wood or not but the combination of our steamy climate, termites, carpenter ants, and the composting action of the deep litter system destroyed the understructure. When it’s moved to its permanent location on the new property it will be put on concrete pillars.

Too many nestboxes. The renovation reduced them to two. We replaced the rightmost box with an additional vent window because in our new situation we are not able to create a hardened run with 24/7 access right away. This vent will be under a roof overhang.

4-foot run height. All future runs will be walk-in. Cleaning the run was back-breaking. Retrieving an egg from under the coop required sending in a child with a hoe.

Use of inexpensive roofing materials. All future coop roofs will either be metal or will be constructed exactly as if they were on our own house. There's no savings in having to replace stuff.

Fit of pop door tracks too tight. DH's over-engineering strikes again. He had forgotten the warping effect of exposure to sun and moisture.

Roofed section of the run not slanted. Rain puddled on top, accelerating the deterioration of the inexpensive roofing materials.

The coop perch was only held by gravity and not otherwise secured because I thought that would make it easier to clean. The big Brahmas, particularly the rooster, periodically knocked it down.

Renovation, Summer 2020

In the renovation we replaced the OSB wall and, as noted above, replaced a nestbox with a vent window. We also changed the nestbox to a front opening and replaced the ramp.




Here you can see the carrying bars in place.


Final version is pullet-approved and bone dry.

Set up as a brooder:

Detail of the monitor roof framing:

The ramp is overkill, but we were using scrap that we had on hand.

This is the thread about the renovation: Renovating the Little, Monitor Coop.

See how I can get a good, thick layer of bedding into it:


Roost above nest boxes and ventilation above the chickens' heads when they're roosting:



Roof overhangs:

Nice, big access door:



The only things that would make it easier to clean would be to have an entire wall swing away and to be able to get the gorilla cart right under it. This door is more practical for daily and I wanted the space underneath as part of the run so this was my choice.

The plans you've been waiting for:



Not being a draftsman and having to work on regular graph paper I put the dimensions on the drawing for the Pop Door end and showed the framing on the drawing for the Access Door end. Here are some photos to help make it clear.





The framing for the two ends is identical except for the boards that support/act as sills for the pop door and access door.


I had difficulty drawing the nest box, but it's fairly simple to actually construct -- a box hung on a ledger board (the bottom 2"x4" above, which is on the exterior).

Again, photos.







The roof is 3/4" OSB, covered in shingles. Metal or polycarbonate would be just as good.

The legs can be cut to whatever length suits your purposes. I found that the original 18" height was a bit low for my huge, Light Brahma, rooster to get under comfortably, especially once there was some build-up of bedding, but I think that more than 24" would be too high for convenient access for cleaning.

In my climate even the treated wood didn't hold up well so when we place it into it's new location after the new, larger coop is built we intend to place it up on concrete blocks instead.

The ramp can also be made according to your needs and preference. The one in the photo is massive overkill because it was made from scrap wood that we had hanging around.

I personally will never build a 4' tall run again, but if it suits you, it ought to be easy to copy off the photos at the beginning. I would suggest making the front 6" taller than the back to give at least a little slope to let rain run off. If you get snow load you'll need to make a stronger structure and will almost certainly want a walk-in design.