Newbie here, converting a shed to a coop?


8 Years
Mar 9, 2011
Chittenden County, VT
Hi everyone!

I've ordered 8 chicks to arrive at the end of April, so I'm starting to think about what we will do for a coop. We have 2.5 acres and 3 outbuildings, but have to decide what to convert to a coop. We are in VT and do not have electricity near the outbuildings, so this will need to be built for VT winters without additional heat sources. We are on a really tight budget and my dad (who's a contractor) has left a decent pile of random lumber and bits around the property (and now lives next door).

We have a small turkey pen left on the property, probably 6'X6'X6' on a raised platform (but has no side walls other than chicken wire, only a roof). I was thinking of using the chicken wire and other materials as scrap for the coop and run.

We also have a closed in shed raised on a platform, that's about 10'X10' and 8' tall inside with a window and door. This would probably require the least amount of modification for a coop, just a door for the hens and an attached run, aside from the roosts and nesting boxes inside.

Attached to the closed shed is a open structure we used as a run-in shed for our horse years ago. This is about 12'X14' and has a high window and a big opening rather than a door, for the horse to come and go as he pleased. This has a dirt floor, I'm not sure if that's ideal for chickens in a northern climate? This is the largest structure and I thought we could modify this with some work and it would give the hens the most space, we could even build a separate nesting and roosting area within this open shed.

Which do you think would be the best to modify? Anyone have pictures of structures they've modified and what they did inside? How big a run should I build for 8 (and potentially up to 12) hens? We do have predators (dogs, foxes, hawks, fishers), so they will be in a protected run. Can the structure have just a dirt floor, or do they really need to be up off the ground?

The shed on the raised platform sounds like the best option. Just make sure you have adequate ventilation for them. The floor of my coop and run is dirt and sometimes mud outside when it snows/rains. They don't seem to mind it and actually they like to take dirt baths. Keep it simple!!!
I like the 10 X 10 shed, it has a high enough ceiling for you to walk in, but not too tall. I like a solid floor when possible, just to keep digging predators out. The shed is already good enough you need to make sure it is secure and cut a pop door out and hinge it so it will close at night. Put up some roosts and you will have nice space for about 25 to 30 hens. That is plenty of room for your dozen or less and it will stay nice and clean being this big. I used 2x4's for my roosts. I put the nest boxes on the wall with a perch, just to keep them off the floor. Keep the nests closer to the floor though, to discourage roosting on top of them. It's best if they have steep sloped roofs on top of the nests. It sounds like you will have a great coop. Show some pics if you can.
Thanks for the input! I think we will focus on the closed shed, I saw a couple you-tube videos of people using sheds very similar to ours and they seemed plenty big for a dozen chickens. I figured with our long winters having a larger coop would not be a bad thing if the hens don't want to go outside. Thanks for the ideas on the roosts, I think we have enough scrap lumber to build those without buying anything. My dad's also a contractor, so if I tell him I'm looking for certain scraps he'll save them for me from some of his jobs.

For those who use a shed converted to a coop, do you have to add ventilation holes? If so, where and how many? Would you add a second window for more light?

I've also seen people use 5 gallon buckets on their side (with half a lid attached) as nesting boxes. Has anyone else tried that? Does it work well?
Wow, sounds like you have the potential for a great setup! What I'd do is have the shed as the coop, and the attached roofed open structure as the run. That would be absolutely perfect for Vermont's long winters and mud season (I grew up there).

I would use welded wire rather than chicken wire, though, because chicken wire isn't predator secure. They really ought to call it "chicken death wire." To economize on the welded wire, you could use something with rather large openings (2" by 4" even for the run) and wrap the bottom two or three feet with something solid or that has smaller openings (even the chicken wire you have left over) to keep the chickens from sticking their heads out and getting them bitten off, or getting grabbed through the wire by a critter. I still would use welded wire with small openings (1/2" by 1/2") to cover just the windows and vents of the coop.

On the subject of ventilation, I recommend this excellent page:

And, while you're on that page, take a look at her "cold coop" page. It's got some great ideas about taking care of chickens in serious winter conditions.
If you use a dirt floor area, you may want wire laid on the ground, out a foot or two, and secured to prevent digging. I use dirt floor coops by preference.

Yes 5 gal buckets work great for nest boxes. Most anything scrounged will do, with little or no modification. All they need is a milk crate shaped thing, or 5 gal bucket shaped thing, preferably with maybe 3" or 4" of lip across the bottom front, to keep the nesting material in. With a bunch of scrap lumber around you could build all you want, I'm sure. I've never bought anything for a nest. Old plastic bins, kitty litter boxes, etc. also work fine.

By all means, go over Patandchickens' pages about muddy runs and ventilation, and you'll do fine. I agree, sounds like you have great stuff to work with there!

Good luck.

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