newbie needs help with coop conversion

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by ohanaranch, Jul 10, 2016.

  1. ohanaranch

    ohanaranch New Egg

    Jul 10, 2016
    We are closing on our dream property next month (if all goes well) and my first order of business is a chicken coop. My current neighbor is blessing us with 5 barred rocks and a rooster. I'm thinking this shed would make a great coop conversion but I've never built a coop before or much else for that matter. I was thinking of splitting it in half and using one side with the possibility of converting the other side later for meat birds. I plan to free range them during the day as that is what they are used to.

    I would appreciate input/ideas on the best way to make this work for my new additions. I know I need predator proofing and ventilation but I'm not sure exactly what needs to be done to make this work.

    Any guidance appreciated! :)[​IMG]
  2. Folly's place

    Folly's place True BYC Addict

    Sep 13, 2011
    southern Michigan
    Welcome! It's great to start with a structure that you can modify. Ventilation and predator protection are crucial for your flock, and adequate space. Where are you located? Climate matters. Ideally here in Michigan, the shed opening faces south, and you can have hardware cloth and woven wire there rather than a solid wall, with a big door, and large windows/ vent cut into the other walls, high up. I forgot about drainage; make sure that you won't have water in the coop when it rains. Fix any drainage issues first. Predator proofing includes the perimeter of the structure, so nobody can dig in. Also, having a covered run for your birds will save them when daytime predators show up. There's lots of good information on this site. Mary
  3. ohanaranch

    ohanaranch New Egg

    Jul 10, 2016
    Thank you, we are in Southern MO in the Ozarks.
  4. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    Hello from across the state line. I built my coop from the end of a loafing shed so it was somewhat similar. I can’t tell a lot from that photo, I can’t even tell if the front is open or enclosed. Part of that is my monitor, part my eyes, but I did clean my glasses this morning. I can’t tell size either. It looks like the front is open and it has a slope to the back. How much overhang, front, back, and sides, does the roof have? I agree, it is great to work from an existing building.

    I agree that drainage is very important. If that is in a low spot or where water stands you have a problem. It looks like it is on a gentle slope, which is good. I put a swale on the upslope side of mine plus hauled in some clay dirt to build the floor up a few inches so water will not run into the coop. That keeps it dry which is very important. A wet coop can cause disease plus a wet coop stinks. It stinks really badly. I have really good ventilation so if a little rain or snow blows in it’s not a big deal, it dries out pretty quickly. But you don’t want water coming in from ground level. That won’t dry very fast.

    That has a metal roof. On humid mornings you will get condensation that drips inside, or at least I do. With good ventilation that’s not a big problem for mine, it may not be for yours. I did not bother trying to insulate the underside to stop the dripping, just live with it.

    I’m not sure what direction that is facing or which direction your main rains and wind comes from. In my valley my main winds and rain are from the south with some from the west. I don’t get much from the north or east. I’d suggest you put most of your ventilation on the sides away from the worst of the rain and wind. Put your human door where the water from the roof doesn’t drip on you when you are going in or out.

    I framed the open front of mine in with lumber and plywood, appearance not being really important to me. If I wanted it pretty I’d probably have used T-111 or some kind of siding. I was happy with plywood and a coat of paint. I built my doors from lumber and plywood. You can go to a habitat or re-use store and maybe pick up windows, doors, or hardware pretty cheaply, or check Craigslist.

    I had a foot or so overhang so I left the top of that front wall open and covered it with hardware cloth against predators. That’s ventilation at the high point of your roof, which is good. Hot air rises, so that lets it out. I can’t tell if that is a 2x12 or something similar across the top of yours or something else. If it is in the way of ventilation, I’d leave the top few inches under that open or move it down. I probably would not move it down.

    Since you are going to have two coops in there it’s your choice if you make two or one human external doors. I’d probably go with one into the laying flock coop and have an interior connecting human door between the coops. When I did not have meaties I’d leave that connecting door open to give them as much room as possible.

    I’d put at least one window in that, probably one in each coop. You need enough light in there to see to work and the chickens need to see what they are doing. If you can read a newspaper in there you have enough light as a minimum. I personally prefer the coop a bit dark as a bright coop can be a contributor to pecking problems. But that is a personal preference. Some people have really bright coops and do fine. I only have one window on the north side of my 8’ x 12’ coop.

    There are all kinds of ways you can do windows. Pick up one cheap on Craigslist or at a habitat store if you don’t have an extra laying around. You can cut a hole in that siding and frame it in, then cover it with hardware cloth for ventilation. A piece of Plexiglas can go over that if you want to block wind in winter. You’ll get a lot of light from openings up high for ventilation.

    If you don’t have studs to frame to, you can cut a hole and sandwich 2x4’s or 1x4’s on each side of that metal and screw them together, clamp it around the metal. That gives you something solid to attach a window or pop door to. If you don’t have studs to attach to, that sandwiching is a great way to give you a support, maybe for roosts. That’s how I built a pop door in this fence.


    You are probably going to leave that metal siding on three sides. Heat is going to be your enemy more than cold. Heat kills chickens, our cold isn’t that much of a threat. I’d cut holes in the top of the wall under the overhang on the low side, hopefully it has overhang. In the winter, along with the holes under the high side, you will get good air flow across the top of the coop to exchange good air for bad. As long as your roosts are below the cross-current so a wind doesn’t blow directly on your chickens they will be fine in our winters. Holes at the top of the sides can be good too but might let in more rain.

    In summer you need more ventilation. I put an opening down low on the cool shady north side of the coop and covered that with hardware cloth. I can block it in winter if I want to, I usually don’t. The air flow from that isn’t through my roosts. Hot air rises and goes out the top. An opening down low on the cool side lets cooler air in to force hot air up and out. Also having windows open at or below roost height in summer is a good thing.

    I’d give a lot of consideration to building a storage cabinet in there, especially if that is as isolate as it looks. The main thing is to be able to put a metal garbage can in there so you can store feed and keep the mice and rats out of it, but a couple of shelves higher up can come in really handy to store things.

    I’d have a pop door (a small chicken-sized door) leading to the outside from each coop. A small door like that doesn’t let in as much weather as a human sized door, though you can use the human door to let them in and out if you wish. Just be sure you can lock any door open or shut so it doesn’t lock hens away from the nests of chickens away from food and water. You want to be able to secure it against predators, especially at night. You need to be able to lock it open and closed.

    Since you are going to have two coops I’d look at building a run outside those pop doors, a run set up so you can divide it between the two coops if you want to. I know you plan on free ranging, but there will be times you want to not let the chickens roam. If you develop a predator problem you might want to leave them locked up while you deal with it. Do you want the chickens helping you when you are butchering? A run gives you a lot of flexibility in how you manage them and can be quite handy during integration, especially a run that can be split.

    That’s enough typing this morning. I’ve probably made it sound a lot more complicated than it really has to be but a lot of this stuff is pretty simple when you just go do it. And there is a lot of personal preference in what I wrote. There are always many different ways that work to do this stuff.
    Welcome to the adventure. It’s a fun ride.

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