Building My Coop


In the Brooder
9 Years
Oct 7, 2010
So this is the old feed shed that is being converted into a coop. As you can see it is a fix'er upper in this picture, which is a month old. A lot of progress has been made since then. New shingles and a new eve have been completed along with removed rot. Restoration of the outside walls is coming along and the next step is to frame up the coop on the inside and frame up the run. I know one thing, restoring an old neglected shed is way more work than building a new one. This is taking forever.


The shed is about 10' X 15' - two thirds of that will be for the coop, the other third will be for storage etc.

The big problem I am having is that roots and big rocks are impeding my ability to properly bury the hardware cloth around the edges of the coop and run. You can't see it in this picture (I will post more this weekend). I think my solution will have to be to build a section of the run raised about 1.5' off the ground where the rocks and roots are and then have a little ramp down to the ground level portion which will encompass that rose bush and the area between the shed and stable (you can see the stable to the right of the little shed).

I plan for the run to be about 20'X20' in total to give the hens lots of space.

One thing I am concerned about is the proximity of this shed to my house. The property is about 5 acres, but it has not been used in almost 20 years (except for the house itself), so it is far to overgrown to build a coop away from the house given my current time crunch.

The shed is about 40' from my back door. Do any of you think this is too close for 12 hens? Will smell become a problem? I would be interested to know whether anyone else has a coop this close to their house and whether they have any problems.

Also, I am wondering if the run is not completed how long is it ok to keep the hens inside the coop while I complete the run. Work is getting in the way of this project a little and is slowing me down.

Thanks a lot,
Welcome to the forum! You have the makings of a beautiful coop there. I think it's great to be able to take something old and make a new use of it. It has nice shade, too, which will be helpful in the summer.

Do be sure to add proper ventilation as you renovate the shed, though. A good rule of thumb is to build in at least 1 square foot of vent per chicken, ideally high up at the tops of opposite walls. You'll need to cover the vents with hardware cloth to keep out predators, and it's also useful to build flaps to cover the vents for those cold winter nights you may want to shut some down. If you haven't seen this page, it's a great reference on the subject:

properly managed coop and run has little odor, so I don't think you'll find your set up is too close to your house. In fact, you'll appreciate the convenience for feeding/watering and collecting eggs. I have nine bantams with one of their pens right next to our swimming pool on our small suburban lot (1/3 acre) and there is no odor whatsoever, even in the coop.

I'm not sure if this will help with your root/stone problem, but rather than bury wire (we have heavy clay soil) I just lay the wire apron on top of the ground and stake it down well with landscape staples. The grass grows up through the hardware cloth to further anchor it. The apron is about 2 feet wide extending outwards from the perimeter of my runs. The theory is that a predator tries to dig right at the base of the fence, hits the wire, but doesn't figure out that it needs to back up 2 feet and start digging there. Plus, in my case, even if a predator figured that out, it would have to dig through 2 feet of heavy clay soil, which I reckon is more than a single night's work.

Your coop should be plenty large to hold 12 chickens all day temporarily while you finish the run. The usual rule of thumb you read here is to allow a minimum of 4 square feet per bird inside the coop (in case bad weather, etc., keeps them "cooped up" in there, as in your temporary situation), plus 10 square feet per bird in the outdoor run. These are not hard and fast rules, just guidelines that usually work in most situations for most breeds of chickens.

Are you planning on getting adult birds, or chicks?
You don't need to bury the hardware cloth. Just lay it flat on the top of the ground,weighted down with rocks if you want, or you can maybe remove a couple of inches of sod and put it back over the hardware cloth. The idea is that the predator will go up to the fence and start digging, hit the wire, and not know to back up.

If it stays dry you probably won't get any smell. If it gets wet, it could get smellly. It also depends on how many chickens you have.

If you have less than maybe 10 to 12 hens, you can keep them in the 10' x 10' coop indefinitely. More than that and you might eventually run into problems. A lot depends in the personality of your individual chickens. You need to keep them locked in the coop for a few days anyway so they get the idea that the coop is home and they will go in there to roost.
Thanks a lot for this very helpful info. I am actually getting adult hens. They were hatched this spring. The guy I am getting them from is moving and doesn't want to butcher them all for meat.

I am planning on transporting them about a half an hour in the back of a truck. Any suggestions on the best way to do this?
My girls are less than 40 feet from the house, and there is zero smell. The hardware cloth apron would probably work if it is 2 feet or so and weighed down either with sod or rocks. We have an apron out around our tractor which is not that big, and something burrowed under it and stole an egg from my broody, so make the apron wide, stake it down, and cover it and I would think it should work. Currently we have had our second flock in a 10' x 12' coop without outside access for a little less than a month so far, while we work on the run. It is going fine, but we have great ventilation.
Good luck with your birds.
Thanks Dora's Mom! The fact that I can finish the coop first and then complete the run once I have the hens is a big relief.

I have seen a lot of people using linoleum as the floor of the coop. I wasn't planning on doing this. My plan is either to leave the dirt floor that is currently in the shed or build a raised floor for the coop portion of the shed that will be about 1.5' off the ground. The raised floor would obviously limit the height of the coop but I think the added bonus of predator protection and keeping them off the damp ground would be worth it.

A question on roosts and laying boxes: is there a golden rule about positioning the roost and laying boxes in terms of their proximity to each other? I was planning on having three tiers to the roost along the back wall with the laying boxes on the inside wall diving the coop from the storage area in the shed. That way I can access the eggs from inside the storage area without having to go in the coop. Any suggestions?
Put 'em in a pet carrier or a big cardboard box and tie it down. They should be okay for a half hour drive - won't starve or dehydrate in that amount of time.
If you have something to put in the box for them so they don't slip around as you drive, like an old towel, that would be great.
I think your ideas for the inside of the coop are great. I see where alot of people use the tier method for their roosts with the tallest closer to the wall. What if you put the shortest roost next to the wall, and the highest out further. Wouldn't that give them more room to roam and you more head room to clean out the coop. Maybe that would not work, but just a thought on my part.

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