How "deep" and high does the coop need to be?


In the Brooder
7 Years
May 8, 2012
Someone gave me an old doghouse to convert into a coop. I tore it down to the frame, which measures 30" x 35". If I put the roof back on it would be about 24" tall inside. I plan on having 3 hens. Too small, yes?

I was thinking I'd add 2 more box frames to the design before closing it in: one on the side to increase sq. footage, one on top to add height for roosting.

Everything I've read on space merely deals in sq. footage. I'd like to know how deep the inside needs to be. Is 35" inches deep good enough if the coop is long enough to provide appropriate sq. footage? And how high do the chickens need at a reasonable minimum?

I can't work in ideals here, as my coop must be built from salvaged/donated materials, but I don't want to punish the birds.

Additional Info: I plan on making a waterer with pvc pipe and the nipple-style drippers, with the reservoir outside, so that will take up less interior space. Nesting box will be an add-on, not taking up interior square footage. The coop will be attached to a run that I plan on being about 4' x 8'. The hens will free range while I'm outside and in the kitchen, 1-4 hours a day.
Sounds to me like you've got a good plan and that should work....

Of course if it were me, I'd use that plan as a 2nd coop and build another, BIGGER coop.

you know... chicken math....
My biggest constraint is finding the wood for free. But I suppose if I find enough material I could just build a bigger coop. I have almost no building skills, so I was hoping to minimize the work. I guess either way I'm essentially building boxes, so it's the same work just with bigger pieces.

The deal with the wife was we could get chicks upon completion of a coop that costs her zero money. As I'm currently unemployed, that means free. If my salvage project takes longer than my job finding project, I'll probably just break down and buy something. The wood to build with at least.
I'm in the same boat. I built my entire coop from pallets (run & all). It took some work to take some apart to put between the slats, but I did it & the ladies at happy.:)
I did build my coop out of a dog house. It had no floor so I rested it on concrete blocks to make it taller. It is 24x44 and the girls do fine. I made doors at the dog opening by closing off the bottom of it and with wood from an old plank shelf...same stuff I used for the doors themselves. They open like french doors, inward: outward would have better.

Found shortly that I needed more airflow so I used an old picket fence for the 2x4s and gave the coop legs. I only needed a small section of hardware cloth 5 ftx 36 inches because the back is against the house: i can add another piece sometime later if I want to move it. I used scrap wood for the roosts, and just added the nest box made from the same fencing, using the slats as the walls. the nest box door is its roof made from a scrap wood frame with a piece of plastic and hardware cloth. On the bottom of the coop I made the bottom so I can clean it easy by making doors out of the fence slats and the harware cloth. Those doors open out, ha ha, I can learn from mistakes!

Problem is the coop roof is flat, so it water stands after a rain. Do not need any extra mosquito breeding grounds so i made the legs a little taller in back for slant. Dont like it, though, so i have some spare shingles I'll put on.

Go on "free cycle" for your area, Craiglist under "free" stuff, and any site where people are building or remodeling and ask nicely for their unwanted stuff!

Hardest part is being able to pick stuff up--not finding it!

I cant post pictures with this computer so I'll try to find another...

I do have one picture of the coop as first built in my photo album.

Think of it like a puzzle: Waht do you have and how can you make that work?

Building tips... Borrow an extra drill if you do not have two: (borrow two if you dont have one!) use one with a drill bit, the other with the screwdriver tip. This saves time because you should always pre drill the hole! It prevents splitting the wood, and makes it easier to drive the screw in.

And when you measure to cut a piece of wood, draw your line, then draw an arrow pointing to it on the waste side of the wood ( the part you didnt measure for, the excess). Make your cut on the arrow side of the line because the saw takes a fraction of the wood.

Dont expect perfection: carpentry is a skill that takes practice and your chickens will never notice if it is not perfect! Good luck!

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