Woulda, Shoulda, Coulda- Coop Best Practices


In the Brooder
6 Years
Mar 23, 2013
Cypress, TX
I have seen a couple posts about folks starting out on their coop-venture & wondered what the perfect coop would look like? I have already started mine, and as I have set a budget of $0 I build it when the materials come my way. It is a hybrid coop/tractor design where the run detached and the 2 sections are moved separately. Got the coop mostly built (it's that last 10% that gets you bogged down in the mud) and just started the framing for the run. Stopped & waiting for a sheet of plywood to come our way (nesting boxes), a couple pieces of roofing, and some cage wire.

As I sit here, I wonder what my peeps think are absolute must haves, things they wish they would have done and, things they wish they wouldn't have done. (I am in Houston, so we are fighting heat & not cold in designing the coop.)

A couple things, after looking at all your designs, I have decided to include are:
  • Bucket & nipple watering system (mounted on the run, bucket outside)
  • PVC feeder & grit system.
  • Deep litter method, (not sure if my coop is tall enough for it though)
  • External nesting boxes (well, they hang off the back, but accessed inside)

There are so many amazing folks on this board, and I am NEVER going to meet your level of creativity or chicken nerdiness... (for real, the guy with the automated watering system & feeding system and door and solenoid this and that... your brilliance in coop-gadgetry is at a WHOLE other level... trying to figure out what you did would be like me trying to explain to my labrador how to program the DVR... it would only frustrate you and waste your time...amazing though.) I am just looking for good, "best-practice" ideas that have worked for you. Oh, and did I say I need to find a way to do it for free?

Here is where we are so far:
1) I am a caterer and found this table in one of my store rooms and thought it would make a perfect coop for my 4 ladies with a built in drip proof roof.

2) Framed it out with a pile of old 2x4's from a friends yard (another project addict)

3) Clad it in recycled fence pickets from one of my friends who redid theirs

Opening in back for 2 bay laying box.
Gonna open up the sides and make ventilated doors for them for access & clean out. From there, it is a blank slate. Just gotta get it done before the ladies need their home.

I appreciate all your amazing input up to this point and hope to pick up a couple "must haves" from this conversation.


In the Brooder
7 Years
Sep 29, 2012
northern Virginia
If you make the sides into doors that will swing all the way out, and make your nest box removable, you can powerwash/hose blast the inside as needed. I did my small coop this way, and I love being able to easily clean it out without having to worry about puddling or not being able to get into the corners.


10 Years
Jun 7, 2011
Taylors, SC
Raising the coop about 24 inches from the ground will enable you to open it and clean without having to stoop or squat on the ground. That would get old, in my mind.

Sometimes you can get the odd shingle from a site where they are replacing the roof. Shingles are expensive. I have rummaged through the ones removed and found several to use on the coop. They don't have to be new to be useful.

Flooring installers may have scraps of sheet flooring that would be useful for the floor, if you are so inclined.



7 Years
Oct 25, 2012
Looks awesome, well done!
Just make sure there's A LOT of ventilation if it gets hot where you are. I have one or both whole sides of their little house (looks similar to yours, but not as prettily cladded) open in summer with wire, which would be your ventilated doors. I can close them up in winter as I need, or I just hang a towel over the one side if there is a breeze (as I said, not so pretty). Its incredible how much heat and stinky hot air the little guys can produce, and they really aren't made for heat, they still seem to pant when I get chilly because they warm each other so much (I have Rhode Islands, and only 3 in a box bigger than yours!) So make sure that you have plenty of open area on the sides for air to come through, you can always close it with something, but to try open more later and have it predator proof at the same time is a MISSION!! Talking about predator-proof.. Be sure its 1000%!! I ve heard of mongoose chewing through chicken wire, so use the thicker stuff! I guess thats Africa, though, too..things are different down here

Good luck!!
Oh, PLEASE post a pick of the finished product WITH your girls in it!!??!!

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