Please help with my coop design!


10 Years
Feb 15, 2009
Coastal Georgia
Hi all!

I'm hoping that someone out there with more building experience (I have none) can help me with a couple of design issues on my coop. I need to get it built in the next week or so and I have a few dilemmas.

I'm converting an old shed into a coop with two runs outside of it. I will alternate the flock between runs every two to three weeks and try to grow some greens in the one they're not it.

I'm insulating the shed (got a ton of free batting that was a cast off of a church building project). It will be hot here in the summer and I want to insulate mostly from the heat, not the cold. Here are my two design dilemmas:

1) posts for runs. I have thought about a lot of ideas for making posts, but they are all really expensive (at least for me). Ideas have included 4X4 posts atop those green decking spikes (easy and movable), 4" PVC pipes cemented in place, and actual "fence posts" at TSC cemented in place. Each of these options looks like it will be a minimum of $10 per post and I probably need 20. That is too expensive for me. I also worry about treated wood and PVC leaching into the soil. Does anyone know of a more economical idea for run posts? We have raccoons so it will have to be solid.

2) interior wall covering (ie what to put over the batting and vapor barrier. I would love to have something that I can hose down when I'm mucking out the coop. Again, every covering I've looked at is so expensive. I think drywall is out because I don't think it would last in that environment. But even plywood or plastics seem to be so expensive. Any good ideas?

Thanks so much for your help! I'm just at a standstill with this design because I can't make it affordable.

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For the interior walls, you could use the stuff they use for trailers. Not sure what it's called, but it's like a thin plywood with a pattern on it like wallpaper. You would not be able to hose it down, though.
Someone else on here used tin roofing/siding inside theirs.

I would go to Home Depot in the shower section and see what they have available.
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We used treated 2x4's for posts. You can just use post hole diggers, or make them more solid with quickrete. We did use treated 4x4's for the corners, with two diagonal braces. Cheapest way we could find. Some people have been able to buy landscaping timbers even more cheaply, and they are more substantial than 2x4's.

For the interior walls, I think most use OSB sheets and paint them -- a coat of primer and a coat or two of a semi gloss, water based paint should hold up to cleaning for quite a while. Drywall is out -- they will peck holes in it and eat the stuff under the cardboard/paper/whatever it is. It is possible you could get some sort of vinyl coated panels at a mobile home supply store that would be cheaper and would not have to be finished.

One great way to save is find a home construction site and offer to haul some of their scraps away. It is incredible what is wasted when building a house, and they have to pay to put it in landfills. There is always freecycle, if you want to go the online route.

You will not be able to grow anything much in two or three weeks that they won't eat in a day. You could just have one run and toss stuff in -- clumps of sod, kitchen scraps, grass clippings, etc. It is pretty hard to keep anything growing in a standard run. You might start with just one run and see how it goes. Of course you can always add another run or expand the first one later.

You could also consider skipping the insulation and having large wire mesh areas for walls. And they will need shade. You could remove parts of two walls or something, and use the materials for a sort of porch roof over part of the run. Without a lot of ventilation, insulation might just hold extra heat in. Air flow is necessary even in the north, and critical down here.

Here is a thread on hot weather coops that might give you some ideas:

Good luck!
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For some reason no one has mentioned cutting down saplings and using them for posts. Sure they will rot away eventually, but if you are concerned about PT chemicals, rotting wood is something you'll have to face unless you choose metal posts.

Someone already pointed out chickens will pick at drywall (and anything else they can reach). Try scrounging the materials you need. Lumber yards throw away cracked sheets of plywood and OSB. Builders throw away tons of great stuff! I never hurts to ask! The worst that can happen is they say no! Ask every carpenter you know and see what happens, everyone likes to help out if they can.

Good luck!
Saplings are a great idea. Also, Home Depot type stores often have cull lumber and other materials, not free, but cheap.
"My" TSC has 'landscape ties' (like railroad ties, only not nearly as thick.) They are somewhat 'imperfect', and I believe
one of the four sides is rounded.......but they are quite inexpensive........I'm thinkin' $3 or so.....
They would be great for posts, if you can get them long enough to make the walls of the run as high as you need to.
Depending on how high you want your run you could use 'T-posts' or, even cheaper, 'U-posts'. Depending on their height they are around $3-$5 a post, and are a sturdy support for fencing. Also, it was a good suggestion to look for recycled materials. With a little effort I've been able to find treated 4X4 posts for free from remodel projects - there are great finds out there!
For our run, we used 4x4's for the corners and landscaping timbers for the side poles. The landscaping timbers have 2 flat edges but they were under $2.00. The 4x4's cost more but we wanted the corners to be easy to attach the hardware cloth to.

For the inside walls, we used chip (not particle) board. It cost under $6.00 per sheet and chip board is very durable and strong. It's the stuff that houses are built with, under the siding. We painted the inside to make it easier to clean. It can get wet and hold up....just not too much water for too long.

I've heard alot of people say they used bathroom sheets in their coop and that they were inexpensive. Not really sure.....the sheets we used in our bathroom were $20 each so we never looked.

For the hardware cloth, shop around. Our local hardware store was able to order us 100' x 4' rolls and it worked out to 1.30/ft. Home Depot only had 25' rolls and it cost more per ft and more would have been wasted.
We just finished our coop (an old shed) a couple of weeks ago - I've got a few pics on my page. We used 4X4 post for the run posts - I used a pitch fork like thing to dig the holes and them tamped the dirt around each post so it's really firm. For the inside we used that cheap plywood that's basically particle board. Painted it white - read about white washing after I bought the paint and that might be a good option as far as redoing it each year for cleaning purposes. We insulted it and put a vent up in the roof, have 2 windows and their little "doggy" door so hopefully that takes care of the ventilation. We also poured a concrete floor (actually a lot easier than I thought) for easy cleaning and to keep other critters out. We got most our supplies at home depot - you might also check out Habitat for Humanity re-use hardware stores. And found a lot of what we needed just laying around from the home's previous owner - e.g. the windows. We're growing peas and other veggies around the run that should provide some shade in addition to the trellis.
Great ideas, everyone! Some I definitely hadn't thought of. If anyone has any more thoughts, that would be great. I'm going to try to get the coop done this weekend.

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