Jen's Hen Pen


In the Brooder
8 Years
May 28, 2011
NorCal SF East Bay
Now that I can post pictures, I'll try to post the construction of my daughter all in one coop and run.

My daughter, Jenni, is into eating natural and has started her backyard garden and acquired 4 chicks for eggs. She bought an online hen house with run, but it was far from what the pictures led you to believe, very shoddy material and workmanship, and just big enough for 1.59 chickens. So I decided to attempt building a chicken coop and run for her 4 chicks.

We got together in her back yard and discussed her needs as we understood them.
• Weather: We live in Northern California where hard freezes and snow is not a problem. Winters may see a few days at or below 32 F and, summers, a few days over 100 F, so being able to close up the coop so the cold and rain can’t penetrate in the winter, and ventilation in the summer are considerations. Prevailing wind and rain would come from the back side. We agreed on ventilation holes at the top of the front and back walls, with windows on three sides that can be opened for ventilation, but still keep the rain out.
• Sized for 4 chickens. We decided on a 4’ X 4’ coop with 4’ X 8’ run, which includes ground space under the raised coop.
• External access for collecting eggs. We decided on an externally mounted nesting box with hinged lid.
• Standing room in the run for easy cleaning. Jenni is 5’6”, so we decided on a sloping roof, with a 6’ front wall and 5’ back wall.
• Easy access to the coop for cleaning. She wants to do the “deep litter” method. We decided on a 6” litter depth, and, since weather conditions don’t dictate when she can clean the coop, she can clean it out when the litter needs to be replaced. I will make the door as wide as possible so she doesn’t have to clean a lot of corners.
• Roosts, with a “poop board”, should be easily accessible for cleaning.
• Relatively predator proof. She lives in the suburban San Francisco East Bay, with an enclosed yard. The main predators would be cats, raccoons, possums and skunks, with other considerations: her 2 year old son and her Yellow Lab. We decided to use ½” galvanized hardware cloth for under the run walls and floor (under sand).
• Aesthetically pleasing and unobtrusive: She would like it to look somewhat finished, a light tan in color. Darn, that means no Barn Red with white trim.
• One of my considerations is to be able to transport it from my garage to her back yard, which means it would probably have to be broken down into manageable sizes and weights, to be able to be carried it into their back yard. After measuring their front gate, I’ll make it 46” wide rather than 48”, to fit through their 47” wide gate opening.

She told me about the website, and I spent hours studying the coops there and picked up a lot of good ideas. I particularly liked baldessariclan’s “Wichita Cabin Coop” ( and will “borrow” some of his ideas. I purchased the “Building Chick Coops for Dummies” “(Wiley Publishing, 2010) which gave excellent instructions on basic construction.

Thu 5/26/11
I purchased Redwood 2” X 8”s for the run base. I meant to get 2’ X 6”s but I was paying too much attention to the length to notice the width. I got redwood since the frame will be placed on the ground and will be partially filled with sand. Redwood is resistant to rot and insect infestation. The frame was glued with Tightbond III (waterproof) wood glue, and nailed together using 16d hot dipped galvanized nails.

I glued and nailed 2” X 8”s to the run frame so I can attach hardware cloth to prevent varmints from digging under the frame.

The coop will be 48” wide by 46” deep and will be 2’ off the ground, to give the hens room to roam underneath the coop.

Fri 5/27/11
The coop subfloor framing, of 2” X 4” kiln dried fir, was set flush with the legs, because, after the hardware cloth has been attached, it will be faced with 1’ X 4”s, and the whole thing still needs to be 46” wide. The subfloor framing was attached to the legs with glue and 2 ½” pocket-hole screws using a Kreg pocket-hole jig.

I installed two floor joists on 16” centers to give the floor better stability. These were attached with glue and 3” stainless exterior screws.

Sun 5/29/11
Started attaching 1/2 “galvanized hardware cloth between the coop base and the run framing to keep the furry ones out and feathery ones in. I originally used screws and fender washers but I wanted to face the exposed wire edge, and there was just too large of a gap, so I pulled the washers and used ¾” hot dipped galvanized poultry net staples.

Mon 5/30
I finished attaching the hardware cloth underneath the coop. I attached the coop floor, 23/32” sheathing, with glue and 2” pneumatic nails.

I then framed the front wall. The holes at the top of the wall are covered with hardware cloth for ventilation. The large hole is for the people door.

Tue, 5/31
Cut the lumber for the back wall frame and started thinking how I’m going to design the left side wall. This will have the nest boxes and a window. Before I can complete the back wall framing, I need to figure out where the left wall window will be, so I can place the other windows at the same height (for esthetic reasons). Too much thinking and too little construction today. I need to get more 2” X 4”s, some trim and T1-11 exterior siding, so I can cut and paste to figure this out.
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Very nice start Keep the pics coming

Remember ventilation year around is critical for ammonia as well as moisture build up. You'll probably only need to lock them in at night if the predators get really big and mean. Since you look pretty critterproof I'd let them decide when to be in or out. Maybe even a outside roost for those hot nights or when it rains. You're not cold enough to be concerned about. Keep them dry and they'll do fine.

Easily removed poo boards and sand would make clean up a breeze (like scooping kitty litter) and you could even use newpaper under the birds if it's secured (paper clip clamps or clothes pins). Sand never wears out so raking & scooping would mean you rarely need to do a complete clean out if it can drain washing the poo remains out (weed mat over plywood with holes in it / wire or just in the ground)
Wet, poo'd up shaving get ripe quick in warm weather and can really piss off the neighbors and makes cleaning a stinky chore.

You right about planning to have coons, etc as predators and a wire skirt will stop diggers. Wire underneath will stop rats and mice. Be sure to have good latches, coons and opposum sorta have a thumb! Remember people steel chickens too

As for moving it, build it in panels. Easy to handle and transport
Thanks bryan. My plan right now is to have the roost towards the back wall with a poop board underneath, sitting on a tray mounted on heavy duty 24” drawer slides. That way, she can pull it up to the front door opening to clean it.
Wed 6/1
Had errands to run then had to find a window without rain so I could get more lumber. I didn’t accomplish any construction today but I have the parts to where I can get a good start tomorrow.

Thu 6/2
Got the outside framing of the left wall cut and put together (16d nails and 3” screws where needed). Cut the outside frame for the right wall. The right wall will have the pop door and an externally mounted storage cabinet.

Fri 6/3
Made a mock up of a 12” X 12” window with trim and saw that this size window was going to be too big, which, if installed, would make the nest boxes too low. Had errands to run so didn’t get a lot done.

6/4 Sat. Consulted with the daughter on window, roost and poop board placement and came to an agreement on how to proceed. Finished framing the left wall. The top rectangle will have a window and the bottom rectangle will have two nest boxes. Set and plumed the front and left walls, attaching the two together with 3” screws
Looking good, Chucken Keep the pics coming

Looks heavy if it's going to be used as a tractor, what are you using for wheels? Might want to avoid tall lawn mower wheels, I used them on a heavy tween coop and they warped from the weight and are nearly useless. Might want to look at wheel barrow tries and a steel rod or pipe for a axle.
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It is heavy. It will be set and left in place. I figure we’ll transport it in three stages, the roof, the run base with run walls and door, then the coop. It’s going to take at least four strong bodies to move it. For the coop, I may rent some heavy duty moving dollies and tip it on its side. The daughter has a big 4WD Ford Diesel that they pull a 35’ toy hauler with, so we’ll put it in the back of that.
looks like it is coming along quite nicely. Good job

You have far superior carpentar skills than me. I'm currently bulding a coop for my wife, but I'm faking my way through it. As long as it looks like I know what I'm doing, she'll be happy... LOL

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