Newbie hoping for feedback on rough coop ideas (long)

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Stumpy, Apr 26, 2008.

  1. Stumpy

    Stumpy Songster

    Apr 15, 2008
    I am giving a lot of thought to how I can come up with a coop and run with the least amount of expense and how I (middle-aged, not-too-strong woman) might build it (mostly) myself with the least amount of sawing, etc. I am hoping someone will give me some feedback on my ideas so far. It just occurred to me that we have some 2 x 4’s (untreated) and four 4 x 8 sheets of masonite siding. We also have:

    Assorted pieces of cement siding
    2 long 4 x 4 posts
    chicken wire
    2” x 4” welded wire
    chain link wire
    small amount of hardware cloth
    various hinges, latches and handles
    left-over metal roofing
    one sheet OSB
    thick glass shelving (like used in Gopher Boy’s windows)
    assorted treated lumber
    fence staples

    There is an old turkey coop on nearby family property from which I could scavenge tin roofing and posts if needed.

    I don’t think all of the above materials will really be useful (especially large wire) because hardware cloth would be a better deterrent to the high amount of predators we have, especially snakes. As much as I’d like to have a coop that I could step into, I thought it might be wisest to build one of the coops up off the ground on posts with the following features:

    Front wall: 8’ long, 4’ high
    Back wall: 8’ long, 3.5’ high
    Slanted roof without peak
    Pull-out drawer to hold nesting boxes
    Windows and vents (haven’t decided on placement)
    Interior roost to be built over wire, clean-out metal drawer underneath
    No wiring, but heavy duty extension cord for light and heat (rarely necessary)
    Large door on each end for clean-out, etc.

    What I may need to purchase:
    More hardware cloth
    Plywood for roof and floor
    Second-hand windows
    Heavy-duty drawer guides
    Posts for run

    Looking at this coop has made me wonder if it’s necessary to build it as long as 8 feet, but I don’t want them to be cramped:
  2. tntstanifer

    tntstanifer Songster

    Nov 1, 2007
    Well, I can't help with the "building" coop part, my husband is the builder around here. But if you're looking to save money, check out your local ReStore ( ) to see if they have any building materials available that you can use. I also keep an eye out around dumpsters and roadside piles. Also, join your local freecycle ( ) and ask for items you may need to finish your coop. Good luck!! [​IMG]
  3. Stumpy

    Stumpy Songster

    Apr 15, 2008
    Thanks for the tip. Freecycle isn't active in my area, but we have recently had a habitat store open up and I hope to get windows there.
  4. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    How many chickens are you wanting to house? That would help if you want advice on coop size [​IMG]

    The 2x4 welded wire will be real good for a run -- along the bottom 2-3' of it run an extra layer of 1x1 welded mesh, or hardware cloth, or if it's all you got then even just chickenwire.

    Your nest-box situation (and the scavenged materials aspect thereof) will be a lot simpler if you don't try to build a fancy pull-out thing (which is going to be VERY disconcerting to the first hen who's in there when you try to pull it out, lol). There is honestly no advantage whatsoever that I can see to having 'em pull out. You only need a door accessible from the outside of the coop to let you reach in. And of course a good latch on that door.

    If you're concerned about cleaning, make the floor of the nest boxes a hinged piece of plywood (hinged at the wall side) that can be released from a sturdy reliable catch to just drop straight down, letting all the nest box bedding fall to the coop floor, then you latch the floor flap back up and refill with fresh bedding.

    If it's going to be 8' long you will need more than just a door at each end -- you will need door(s) nearly all the way along. You don't mention how deep this coop will be (i.e., 8' by what?) but especially in a relatively low-ceilinged little coop, you don't want to have to reach more than 3' to get to any part of it, honest. 4' is anatomically possible but unpleasant and hard on the back.

    Hope this helps some,

  5. Stumpy

    Stumpy Songster

    Apr 15, 2008
    Pat, Yes, I guess it would help to know how many -- I was thinking about 6 or so. I was envisioning using the four pieces of siding, so four feet wide by eight feet long roughly. I can see how the drawer would be quite complicated.

    Whew -- in some ways it would be so much easier to come up with the extra siding and 2 x 4's to make it normal height.

    That's a great idea about the nest boxes.

  6. Mrs MIA

    Mrs MIA Chick Magnet

    Mar 3, 2008
    I've built one coop mostly by myself (8x8' with the back wall sloped for snow-slide) and currently building a 12x20' breeders coop/pens. I'm in my mid-40s, and I did do a lot of the work myself (not to take ANYTHING away from hubby - he's been so supportive and helps out a LOT... so nice to have another pair of hands!) Keep it simple and use the wood at the dimensions you have... most plywood is 4x8', 2x4s come in 8' lengths... etc. I can say from experience that if you're going to walk inside the coop, make it at least a foot taller than you are. We made a turkey coop that is 5' tall, and DH and I both hit our heads on the coop, even though we KNOW it's too short. LOL! [​IMG]
    I keep building like this is a cabin for humans... DH keeps reminding me "It's just a chicken coop... they don't care if the windows aren't square... they don't care if that 2x4 isn't plumb..." but I do. LOL! There are so many ideas and wonderful inovations that have been shared in the coop design section that have already been done. For ease of cleaning, a dropping pit is wonderful. I'm going to take the idea of the drop-down nest-box bottoms and run with it for the breeders coop... what an awesome idea! The birds like to roost high... keep them high, but not so high that they'll hurt themselves getting down. I've found that the chickens will use 2x4s over round dowling when given a choice, though they'll hit the highest roost no matter what it is.
    Someone here (I can't remember the name! But I can't take credit for it!) put together a really easy tool for keeping your chicken wire tight... 2x4's screwed together to make a "T", and screws or nails spaced along the upper part of the T sticking out. You attach your wire along the top of the pen, then stick the tool into the wire at the base and lean your knee on it to draw the wire tight. While holding it down, staple it in. "J" clips work really good to connect two pieces of chicken wire together. I made one of these, and used it for making the doors for our coop, and it works like a charm. If I can find the link, I'll add it. [​IMG]

    How big are your snakes? If they're smaller than the 1" mesh of the chicken wire, you can add a 2' strip of the 1/2" or 1/4" hardware cloth along the bottom of the pen to keep the snakes out. Hotwire the fence for larger predators.

    [​IMG] I hope you'll post pics as you build... I hope this helps! But we're here to help!
  7. Stumpy

    Stumpy Songster

    Apr 15, 2008
    Thanks for all of your helpful advice and encouragement. Dh is definitely not on board, but doesn't mind if I do it. I don't blame him because we started building our house 7 years ago and still aren't finished! He's just tired of it! ;-) Interesting thing, though -- he said he'd rather I kept ducks than chickens, which is what I originally wanted, until I explained the added work involved in keeping a larger water source for them.

    I have difficulty with carpal tunnel and tendonitis, which really affects how much I can do. One of my major challenges will be deciding on a place to build it and we truly regret not cutting more trees on our heavily wooded lot. The other unfortunate thing about the lot is that has very little level land. I would simply have to build it on a slope, and the run as well. The back of the house is a steep drop-off down to water.

    Well, the baby copperheads and rattlers are tiny, of course, but they grow up. :eek:A:| I'd post a photo of the huge rattler we killed last summer if I could find it. I almost stepped on a copperhead wearing sandals outside the kitchen door several days ago. I guess the way I was looking at it was to keep as much out of the coop and run as possible; hence, the hardware cloth. Snakes can drop from trees, too.

    I thought I'd want to have a trench around the run, bury the wire and pour in cement as well.

    I saw that chicken wire-tightening device; great idea, and the dropping pit as well. Today we were at Lowe's, and it was all I could do not to pull some lumber out of their trash can! I've spent so much time on this site, just enjoying the creativity and resourcefulness of everyone, and drueling over flat open land!

    If I ever do get around to this and actually accomplish it, I will certainly post photos!

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