A-Frame vs. Box style coop, Pros and Cons?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by mammachick, Oct 20, 2009.

  1. mammachick

    mammachick Out Of The Brooder

    Oct 15, 2009
    On my previous post I had asked about the cost of A frame style coop. I have been looking through the coop designs, and love some of the box style coops. Are the box styles more practical, do they function better then a A-frame? The chickens will free range some, but for the most part will be in a run attached to the coop.
  2. rebelcowboysnb

    rebelcowboysnb Confederate Money Farm

    Square= the most room for a person to move around for a given footprint.

    Triangle= the biggest footprint for the least lumber.

    The chickens get the most usable space for a given amount of lumber if you build a good "A" frame coop.

    You get the most usable space (for you to work an clean) for a give amount of lumber by building a square.
  3. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    A-frame really doesn't use meaningfully less lumber than a box style for the same footprint (and not all its footprint is totally *usable by chickens*)... unless you insist on having the tractor be walk-in height, in which case yes an A-frame uses *slightly* (not much) less material than an equivalent height box.

    The way the sides angle down in an A-frame style means that a chicken can't stand fully erect along the edges of the run and house; and in very low A-frame tractors they often can only use those edges "under the eaves" in a sitting or bending position. So the floorspace is not, from a chicken standpoint, quite what it measures out at.

    Also, unless you have a really miniscule house portion (that does not use the whole length of the coop), you are stuck with a popdoor in the floor, which involves many inconveniences.

    Finally, and here is the biggest problem with an A-frame, you are stuck with a very small house portion. There is just no way to make it more ample; and unless the A-frame is narrowish and walk-in height, not all of that space is usable anyhow. Furthermore it is an extra-small air *volume*, making it even harder to adequately ventilate in wintertime than your average small coop.

    In favor of an A-frame, they are a bit less tippy in high winds than an equivalent-height-and-footprint box style coop. And of course they look kind of Swiss chalet cool.

    It is not that I am against A-frames, as such. They can work just fine in year-round mild climates where the chickens are allowed to free range most of the time -- and notice that this is basically the situation they were designed for, i.e. British backyard chickenkeeping [​IMG]

    But in any other situation, they have so many really significant disadvantages (for the chickens, and for easy management) that a rectangular, box-style coop would really make a lot more sense.


  4. rebelcowboysnb

    rebelcowboysnb Confederate Money Farm

    Lets say you want a coop with a enclosed full upstairs.

    If you use standard lumber. Making a 8 foot by 8 foot footprint with 8 foot walls at 45* angle. Minimum you need 12 2x4s. an 4 sheets of plywood. Assuming you don't count any part that has a roof under 1 foot then you have a usable run that is 6 foot x 8 foot an a enclosed coop that is 2 foot x 8 foot. That's a run that is 48 square. Good for 6 chickens at 8 square a bird. The enclosed coop is 16 square. Good for 4 birds at 4 square a bird. So we will say its a 4 bird coop.

    Now we build a square coop just like the triangle one. You need 18 2x4s an 8 sheets of plywood. Adding a pitch to the roof may take more. That gives you a run an a coop that both have a 8 by 8 floor, 64 square. The run would be good for 8 birds an the coop would be good for 16 birds. If you don't free range as a whole its good for 8 birds.

    At 3 dollars a 2x4 an 40 dollars a sheet of plywood the triangle costs 196 dollars in wood. just under $200 to house 4 birds.

    The cube costs $374 in wood to house 8 birds. I assume adding a sloped roof would put it just under $400.

    So its a matter of preference and/or climate.

    If you are in Canada, one or more 8 bird square $400 coops with extra enclosed space per bird may be better because they will be inside more.

    In the south you may prefer one or more 4 bird triangle $200 coops with extra room per bird on the ground because they wont be inside that much.
  5. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    Quote:But nobody would ever build the second design you have mentioned. (Well ok, there's probably someone somewhere out there [​IMG], but you know what I mean).

    The comparable design would be to have 16 sq ft of 'house' on the box style, same as your roughly 16 sq ft usable in the A-frame. Also, as I said in my original post, if you do not demand a walk-in coop (and realistically, many/most people do not, for small coops like this) then you would not build the run 8' tall either [​IMG]

    By my calculations, building the SENSIBLE box-style version would take 3 sheets of plywood (although this gives you no roof overhang, so you might want to splurge on a 4th one, which puts it back equal to the A-frame's plywood count); and approximately 11 8' 2x4s, which is one less than the A-frame. That's for a 3' high run.

    In reality you would need a few extra 2x4s, ripped down into 2x2s, for crossbraces and to support where pieces of plywood join and so forth, but that is ALSO true of the A-frame design.

    My point is, you can provide the same square footage of house and run for the same (or, depending on how you build, some people might use *slightly* more) lumber and plywood. The A-frame has NO real materials advantage in this case.

  6. rebelcowboysnb

    rebelcowboysnb Confederate Money Farm

    Maybe I misunderstood the question but I thought that was what mammachick was asking. A frame v/s the cube in her other thread.

    I also was trying to stay with standard board sizes.
    Using the same math You could build the same cube with a 4foot by 4foot footprint using 10 2x4s an 3 sheets of plywood for about $150. That would be a coop that is 16 square an a run that is 16 square. That should hold 2 chickens. She said she had 3. 3 could be put in that coop.

    You could build the equivalent of the A frame I priced out above by making it all ground level. A 4foot by 4foot house would take 6 2x4s an 3 sheets of plywood. That's about $135. The run would take about 10 2x4s adding another $30. That would come out the cheapest to hold 4 chickens. You could even save a little if you own a table saw to rip the 2x4s down. Most people don't.

    Its a matter of what ya want. There's no one better than the other. Its really a matter of what you think looks better.

    I may go with the 8x8x8 cube for my next coop. Not that I like it better but because I don't build anything shorter than 5 feet because I would have to build it to hold up horses, goats an dogs if I did. I'm also thinking the triangle may find livestock trying to climb it to. [​IMG]

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