Please comment on 4 x 4 coop design


In the Brooder
9 Years
Aug 20, 2010
New Zealand West Coast
My husband and I will be getting three New Hampshire Reds in about a month. I've been working on a coop plan and finally have sorted most of it out but we will probably make changes on the fly as we build it.
It is basically 4' x 4' but the plans are metric and that roughly equals 1200mm x 1200mm. 1200 x 2400mm is the standard plywood size in New Zealand. It will be up on 500mm (about 19") 100 x 100mm posts concreted into the ground. 100 x 100mm is about 4" x 4". The frame will be rough sawn 50mm x 100mm, equivalent to 2 x 4s. The full height will be about 2 meters.
I made a few changes after I made the model but the diagrams are up-to-date. The door will be cut in half to become a Dutch door. I figure when I opened the door the chickens would jump out when I didn't want them to. By opening the top door only I'll be able to give them food or water and keep them inside. I've also added three ventilation slots at the back which will have wooden shutters at the top for when it is raining from the south. We might also use 9mm plywood for the sides and roof as it is a lot cheaper than the 12mm which will be used on the front, back and floor.

Well, here goes. There are a lot of pictures but they are the allowable size.

The first one shows a six foot tall man standing in front of the coop.

This is the side with the pop door and ladder to the outside.

The back will have ventilation along the top; it's shown in the diagram in the bottom section. All openings will be covered with hardware cloth.

The side with access to the nest boxes.

Now for the actual diagrams.





We will work on the interior once we've started building the frame.
We have lots of room, lots of grass and live in the country with no near neighbors. The breeder we are buying the chickens from said don't bother with a run, just keep them inside until about 4pm, let them out then and they'll want to go back in at dusk. Also, I'd like to say the only predators we have are smallish rats and once I saw a stoat so I guess we have them too. New Zealand was mammal free (except bats) until man moved in and gradually introduced pests. Reading posts about predators in North America I feel very lucky most of the ones mentioned haven't made it here (yet).
I'm pretty nervous about getting these birds and appreciate any comments anybody makes.
Looks like you've put a lot of work into the design. It should work well for you for 4 chickens.

Too bad you can't make it an 8 X 8... then you could have more chickens! (16!)
I am pretty new at this, having gotten chickens for the first time this year. I like what you have done but I am thinking that you need a vent on the bottom of the coop to create the airflow you need to keep the coop dry. Most coops I have seen and what we have done have a vent or vents near the bottom of the coop on one side and then a vent on the opposite wall near the top. This creates a drawing effect in which the cool air enters at the bottom and is drawn up through the coop as the warm air exits through the top vents. It helps to keep the coop dry. We also have hinged covers for the vents so if it storms, we can close them up temporarily. Otherwise, they stay open all the time. Good luck with your new girls! It is an addiction that sneaks up on you so you might be building a bigger coop at some point!!!
That is going to be a very solid little coop. Looks great.
More ventilation would be better IMO and is easier to build in rather than retro later.
Looks like your on the right track, I'd add some more windows or ventilation for your coop, otherwise I think it's a well done design!

Miss Floppy
Looks to me like a good workable design. Well done!

I good rule of thumb for ventilation is to build a total of 1 square foot of vent per chicken, and more than that if you live in a hot climate. The "high/low" vent setup recommended by the previous commenter would not be very good in a cold climate because that sets up the conditions for a draft to blow through the coop (air moving out the bottom vent simply because cold air sinks). If you do something like this, be sure to make a cover to close down the bottom vent in cold weather. I have wide vents on the top of the north and south walls (well above roost level) with flaps so that I can adjust the openings as needed, plus awning style windows lower down for ventilation in the summer...and for light.

Just a might consider making the roof overhangs a bit wider while you're at it.
Nice sketchup work

Looks pretty good to me. If there is ANY concievable possibiility of wanting more chickens in future I'd suggest making the coop bigger (maybe 4x8 footprint instead of 4x4) but if you are for sure going to be restricted to just 3-4 hens then it is perfectly reasonable to use the small size.

If you made it a bit shorter it would be more wind-stable and less tippy (especially this 4x4 version), without sacrificing chicken comfort to any great degree.

IMO the ventilation is not hugely generous but should probably be quite adequate, certainly for just 3 hens. I would NOT suggest adding any low-down vents --- those are really only desirable in hot climates in situations where you don't want, or can't manage, to just have most of one or two whole walls be mesh. In a cooler climate like most of NZ, low vents would not add anything useful and potentially cause some problems.

Just make sure your roof overhangs are likely to be adequate to keep rain from blowing into the coop much - I don't know what type conditions your part of NZ gets, but YOU probably do
It is possible you may need to have a little more overhang, and/or props on hinged covers so that they can be locked just partway open to function as a small overhang protecting the vents/windows.

Good luck, have fun,

Its looking good, but I disagree with keeping the birds locked up inside the coop all day.
In the summer the coop will get very hot, add a small run so they get out into the open air, then let them out for the bigger forage late in the afternoon - you will then have a perfect setup for the girls.
It's the Wet Coast mate - it never rains so you don't even need to build a coop - just use your handy paper model to house the girls!!!

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