Chicken Coop Design Mistakes - Read Before Building

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by RickMiller, Dec 7, 2009.

  1. RickMiller

    RickMiller Out Of The Brooder

    Dec 7, 2009
    I built a coop this past summer for our six new hens. I took various parts of a bunch of different designs and pictures I found on-line and took into account the size of windows and a door I had on hand and I am mostly happy with how it came out. There is one problem though that I have not seen addressed anywhere and that is the height of the doors. I naturally put the doors (both person and chicken) at the very bottom with just a 2x4 sill. I never took into account that if you use the deep litter method that the pine shavings will build up to 12-18 inches and spill out of the coop when the doors are opened. If I could do it over I would raise the bottoms of the doors to around 16 inches off the floor and maybe have a hinged, drop down sill under the person door to make it easier to clean. Also, I made the coop tall enough that I could stand in it and that really isn't necessary. I can reach their food, water, and perch from the door so there is really no need to go in on a regular basis. I think I wouldn't make it taller than 4 or 5 feet if I could do it over. Unfortunately I built the thing solid enough to last for years so I don't see myself incorporating these changes into a new coop any time soon.

    Just wanted to pass on what I learned.
  2. StupidBird

    StupidBird Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 8, 2009
    ooh, great idea!!! hinge the raised sill...thank you. I'll add that to the list of ideas for the coop replacing the tractor.
  3. Cornychick

    Cornychick Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 12, 2009
    Sebastian County, AR
    Live and learn, right? My DH & I have yet to complete a project that could not have been improved upon, despite planing and drawings. [​IMG]
  4. B'villechicken

    B'villechicken Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 19, 2008
    Syracuse NY Area
    I made my people door flush with the floor and put a 6 inch board across the doorway. The people door opens out so there is no problem with the shavings. I did, however raise the chicken door 6 inches up to accomodate the deep litter.
  5. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    Quote:It's not too late, you know -- those are EASY retrofits.

    For the people door, saw off the bottom however many inches of the door (you may have to relocate the bottom hinge, depending on where it is). In many cases this can be done with the door still in place, which is better for it than removing the hinges. Then, using either the piece you cut off or some other lumber (if you use the cutoff, you will still need some other scrap lumber *also*), construct a solid sill on that bottom portion. If it is a large coop it's worth making the sill removable (bolts and wingnuts are good) so that you can sometimes get a wheelbarrow in if need be; for a small coop this is not worthwhile.

    For the chicken door, recut the opening taller, then fill in the bottom portion to become a sill. If you have a vertical sliding door, this is super easy, almost trivial (although you may need to move the tracks up or extend them); if your door is hinged or horizontally sliding, you will have to remount it.

    But both of these modifications are really easy and will give you exactly what you want [​IMG]

    Also, I made the coop tall enough that I could stand in it and that really isn't necessary. I can reach their food, water, and perch from the door so there is really no need to go in on a regular basis. I think I wouldn't make it taller than 4 or 5 feet if I could do it over.

    Have you had your chickens long enough to have to catch them in the coop to inspect for mites, or to have to retrieve floor eggs from the far corner, or to want to scrub down the inside of the coop real good or do repairs in there? If not, just hang in there and you will see why everyone ELSE'S list of 'things I wish I'd done differently' involve not having made the coop tall enough to walk around comfortably in [​IMG]

    Good luck, have fun,

  6. CityChook

    CityChook Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 9, 2008
    Minneapolis, MN
    My Coop
    Quote:First, let me say [​IMG] from MN!

    Look at it this way - with the door being level with the floor, you can easily sweep shavings right out when cleaning. A simple sill dropped into place at all other times will keep the shavings in. Lift out the sill and easy peasy cleaning. It sounds to me like you did yourself a favor!

    IMO, building it large enough to walk into has vast benefits. Especially if you live where it's cold -- you can walk in, close the door behind you and keep that precious heat INSIDE, as well as any naughty escape-artist chickens that are eyeing a quick get-away. You won't regret building it to last - if nothing else, you can always sell it for more than you have into it and start over. Walk-in coops are much in demand.
  7. chickenshagg

    chickenshagg THE ALPHA ROO

    Apr 18, 2009
    St. Charles, MO
    When I first built my coop I installed my people door to open inward just like in my house. I quickly learned that everytime I opened the door I was pushing shavings. My coop is 6x10 so the door also took up space inside the coop because I had to keep that area clear for the door to swing. I have since reinstalled the door to open outward.[​IMG]
  8. RickMiller

    RickMiller Out Of The Brooder

    Dec 7, 2009
    Thanks Pat for the advice. The people door isn't hard to retrofit but the chicken door wouldn't be fun. I made a horizontal slider and the walls are insulated double-wall construction with siding outside and I used masonite on the interior. I framed out around the chicken door so I would need to take the wall covering off the inside or out to change the framing/raise the chicken door header (I said I made it solid). I may do this next summer if it really bothers me but I will probably just live with it.

    As for the height, you do have a point about having to reach eggs, etc in the back. Been luck so far though with that - only one egg found out of the nesting boxes (btw, I built the nesting boxes with access from the outside so they can be cleaned and eggs gotten easily) and that was one of her first. They all seem to have figured it out now. They just started laying the begining of November and so far so good.

    Thanks again.
  9. lighthawk

    lighthawk Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 4, 2009
    Gobles MI
    Quote:I hope I'm doing the right thing. I was planning on 6" of litter boards in the doorways as I will have two inches of insulation under the floor. Should I be planning taller ones? The coop floor will be raised 2' but I measured my reach at that point to determine I need doors on both sides to reach into the farthest corners (mainly at the roof line) without having to go in.
  10. Highland Moongazer

    Highland Moongazer Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 9, 2009
    Marshall, NC
    For fixing the chicken door, you could build a box around it so that shavings don't get out. It won't keep everything out, but it'll stem the tide.

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