The Chicken Coop Is Done…Enough.

The builder of our chicken coop turned it over to us with just a few final details left to handle: painting, notably, and any sort of facade-bling we wanted to add.

We painted Coop 2.0 gray because that was the only color exterior paint we had on hand (you may recall me saying that exact same thing about Coop 1.0.; it’s the same bucket of paint). We had this idea to build a cute little mock picket fence on the outside. Maybe one day…for now, the coop is done enough.

We based our coop on the Garden Coop design. We customized our coop to make it larger, and changed many of the finish differences, but otherwise took quite a bit from the plans we downloaded.

Want the tour? Okay, here ya go.

The footprint of the coop and run is 8 feet deep and 12 feet wide. It was designed to make maximum use of standard dimension lumber with a minimum of cutting (we figured the size when the plan was still to built it ourselves, and we’re not experts at the precision cutting). The enclosed coop is 8 feet deep and 4 feet wide. This size should fit all the chickens we will ever think of keeping on our suburban lot – 6 hens being our goal.

The height of the coop and run (not including sloped roof) is a little under 7 feet. The top of the coop and run is fully enclosed with hardware cloth (freaking expensive 1/2-inch metal mesh that keeps out rats and raccoons). Above the hardware cloth is a sloped roof made from angle cut 2x12s and translucent corrugated roofing panels.

 
The view from the house; you can see we have not yet painted the interior OSB of the coop. We prioritized painting surfaces that would have rain contact. This is what I mean by done enough.
OK, ready to go inside? We did everything we could think of to aid in easy clean-up of the coop. We plan on using the deep-bedding method, where the poop and coop detritus is swept to the floor of the run to compost along with bedding material.

The coop itself sports a few roosting bar options, and we are collecting nicely sized natural branches, rake handles, and anything else that seems like something the chickens might like, to add additional roosting places in the coop and run area. So far they aren’t complaining.

The girls have a three-compartment nesting box with a highly pitched roof to discourage nesting, and hence pooping, above the eggs. Each compartment is around 12″ x 14″. When we moved them from the brooder to the coop, they all (yes, all six of them) swarmed into a single nesting box. They still seem to enjoy sleeping pig-pile style.

The interior panel of the coop swings completely open and is held up by gas struts our builder pulled off of a Cadillac from the junk yard. Seriously, Caddy hood struts. And yes, we did tip our builder.

The floor of the coop is lined with a piece of vinyl flooring remnant to prevent poop juices from soaking into the OSB floor of the coop. I’ve forgotten which of the Northwest Edible Life Facebook fans recommended this to me, but we thought it was genius. (If you are the brilliant suggester behind this tip, please stand up and take credit!)

The interior door has a window cut-out so we can watch Chicken TV while the girls are in the coop. This was a truly last minute addition to the design but we’re so glad we have it.

 The girls have a moderately sloped ramp which they navigate easily.

Because our coop is fully covered and enclosed with hardware cloth, we feel fairly confident about leaving our feed supplies in the coop itself. We store the feed in big food-safe plastic buckets on metal shelving. This has made the daily feeding of the chicks really simple and easy.

The door was built as a simple frame with hardware cloth stapled to the inside. There is a spring closure attached to the inside so it’s almost impossible to leave the door open. Good thing too, the chicks are fast at this age.
 
The roof: after the translucent panels were installed, frames with hardware cloth stapled in place were screwed into the roof crossbeams. This is a departure, and in my opinion a vast improvement, over the original plans, which called for the hardware cloth to be stapled directly to the crossbeams. All that stapling overhead would suck. If you build this kind of coop, do it our way.
Two heavy duty hooks screwed into the coop support joists hold food. Eventually, the hooks will hold larger containers for the hens, but for now we are making due with the small chick feeder and waterer.

So that’s the coop! This chickens seem plenty happy. What do you think?

Comments

  1. Love it!

  2. Looks nice – I would leave the interior unpainted. The chickens will not mind a bit, but if you paint, I'd worry about the fumes for them. Like the picket fence idea. Cute!

    • Lisa Gibson says:

      To mask paint fumes for interior or exterior paints you can use one teaspoon of Pure Vanilla Extract. *I got this from my old Mr. Wizard’s book :)

  3. The only thing I have a question mark on is the translucent roofing. It is so incredibly light in there, even over the nesting boxes. I find it helpful and settling for the girls to have a dark place to go sometimes, especially when they are in shock, fright, broody, need wings clipped etc. See how it goes but you may find it helpful to place some roofing iron over the nesting box side. Looking at it from a Temple Grandin way, if I was "birthing" an egg every day, I would rather do it feeling darkened and cocooned and safe than in a bright light open space. I think there is a certain vulnerability when you are birthing. You have put a lot of thought and design ideas into it and that is great.

  4. I appreciate you sharing your coop and design changes with all of us. We're hoping to get ours built for next spring (we have some trees that need removal first), so I'm looking forward to comments from all those experienced with chickens. Thanks Tanya for your insights. It's a blessing to learn from others. Love all the pictures of your new coop. It looks fabulous and the picket fence idea would be a really cute addition!

  5. Tanya – this is a very interesting point. I *think* the roof over the nesting boxes makes the boxes themselves much darker and cozier – perhaps that's why the chicks all pile in there. But we will definitely keep the dark n cozy point in mind going forward. If necessary, perhaps a nesting box curtain could be stapled to the front of the boxes, changing room-style? :) Thanks for your feedback.

  6. Nice! I am attempting to get as much done on our run today (while being solo with the Babylady?) so I quit having escapees.

  7. Super cool! Very jealous! My coop and chicken tractor set up are as nice as your but now I have something to aim for. I do have a question: how did you hang your feeders? They look like the same ones I have but for the life of me I can't figure out how to hang them. Thanks for all the great ideas!

  8. I am building that exact coop right now! I have been wondering about the interior door for the hen house section. I really like how yours swings up instead of out but can you open the exterior door when the interior on is open? I'm trying to think of the easiest way possible to clean the hen house.

  9. Nicole – I used an old wire coat-hanger to hang the feeder. I basically cut the hanger in half at the bottom wire, and then twisted the two halves around the white plastic food holder portion. The hook part was kept in tact. Does that make sense?

    Improb Farmer – The door to the coop opens out, so there is no interference between the door and the coop clean out hatch.

  10. Too cool! I'm jealous that yours is done. Mine's close out of necessity. Oh and I painted the inside and regret it. Too dark. Otherwise I went away from the corrugated roof to keep the heat down in the summer, if we ever get one, hehe. I'm interested in how yours performs over time in that regard. Congrats!!

  11. Anonymous says:

    As a free Range Chicken farmer for more years then you can remember I have a suggestion for you to think of…..In order to have your eggs year around the hens need 16 hours of light in the hen house. We use daylight bulbs for this on a timer. Also an gravity fed automatic water bowl will always assure the birds are not without water..lack of water the will go into moult and stop laying and when they start to lay again you will never have full production. Availability of fresh growing green and dirt and bugs will enhance the taste of the eggs.

  12. I LOVE your coop! Now I just need to convince my husband…

  13. curiositykt says:

    I am making the garden coop currently, and I am at the roofing/hardware cloth part (which I am dreading). So did you make the panels to fit in between the 2x4s that make the main rectangle or did you put them on the rafters above the main building?

  14. Where did you purchase the food-safe plastic buckets that you use for grain storage?

  15. Nice coop! We also live in Seattle (bellevue actually) and are putting up our roof this weekend. It looks like you have had one winter with your coop now… Were the birds to cold to lay eggs? We are debating whether to put plywood under the corrugated plastic and just cut a hole for a “skylight”? I guess we think that the plywood insulates better than the corrugated plastic.

    What are your thoughts?

    Thanks!

  16. I love your coop, will you be giving and tours?

  17. Anore Jones says:

    Awesome chicken coop. Here is my summation of ideas on a coop after 25 years of cleaning the coops. (most obnoxious job on the ranch and not a healthy activity either).
    Build a coop that a human never has to enter. have a lower section of wall (full length) that hinges up so you can scrape out the poop with a hoe. Have the whole unit up off the ground about as high as what you will use to haul away the poop, so you scrape out the poop directly into your wheelbarrow or four-wheeler trailer.
    Have nothing inside except rods for the chickens to roost on. Have the water and feed serviceable from the outside via a hatch that opens, and available to the birds from within, and without any place they can poop on their food or water. Have nest boxes that you check from outside with a door that hinges up and latches. You can take out the eggs and add new straw from the outside.
    Have it totally tight (with hardware cloth) so not even a snake or little varmit can enter. Have one or two side walls that hinge open for the breezes to blow through on a hot summer day but so you can shut out the blizzards of winter.Wire it for that extra light in the winter or heat if necessary.
    My final conclusion is to build it all out of metal that you can whitewash and paint white so those exasperating avarian ticks can’t get a start. I had to abandon my well-built wood chicken house because those avarian ticks got going. They only bite birds and they can wait 17 years for their next blood meal. they hide in wood and trees outside. They killed two batches of birds by sucking their blood until they died before I happened to discover them.
    Anymore I am just going to use chicken tractors.

    • Oh my gosh! So sorry about the ticks! I’m curious if you used diatomacious earth in your wood coop? We’re just finishing our wood coop and I painted the entire interior with KILZ (as recommended by a backyard chicken forum) and plan to dust the entire inside with FGDE. We live at 8500 ft. and don’t get fleas or many other pests ~ hope those ticks wouldn’t have enough oxygen to survive here!
      Thanks for posting your tick warning!

  18. Hi…my husband just built our cage which he finished a couple of months ago. It really does look so much like yours..amazing. We have yet to get chooks (that’s chicken in Australian) but I am very impressed with your whole set up. The vinyl flooring idea is great and will keep it in mind. Best of luck with your ‘girls’. :)

  19. Dawn Stearns says:

    I love the this coop. Did you design it yourself or do you have a plan available? Also how many chickens is it designed to hold? My husband and I are just starting in the back yard chicken endeavor.

  20. Hi Erica, I’m so happy I stumbled upon your blog recently. I’m planning to start my adventures with chickens soon and have been doing a lot of looking and reading. I love your coop design and all the improvements you’ve shared about it. I live out here in Seattle suburbia and wanted to ask you a question about the roof. I’ve been reading about the benefits of a more “open air” coop, and I see that your coop has an open-air (but covered) roof. So you feel that the chickens will be warm enough in the winter? While not often, we occassionally see temps down in the lower teens and I’m just wondering your thoughts on how well they’ll do with this design or if you plan “winter modifications.” Thanks in advance for your thoughts!

  21. That looks like a superb coop. I would be hesitant to paint surfaces inside coop, as the flakes from peeling might not be great for chickens – they do peck at everything. The roof must be very expensive. Thanks for sharing your ideas.

    I would be concerned that it is very airy in the winter time. Was under the impression that winter winds are bad, and this looks rather wide open. How do they do in winter? On the flip side, being on the western side of Washington, you probably don’t have to worry about excessive sun causing very high temps.

    I like the Anore Jones points on coop design, too. I may do some edits to my coop layout, with all these great ideas!

  22. I recently built a coop very similar to yours, from an old carport reusing all almost all of it including the tin roof panels. Now that it is built i am seeing condensation form and rain inside the coop and run. I don’t really care if it rains a little in the run but in the coop is another story.

    I was wondering if you experienced a similar problem, and if you did if it caused any problems with the sand getting too wet.

  23. Thank you for the tour and the info on your sand bed litter! (I find the pine shavings very dusty, I know a lady who used wood pellets as well). We recently build a coop based on the Purina model and we are working on the run right now. My girls free range during the day but we are modifying that for summer as my strawberries mature ;-)

Trackbacks

  1. [...] Build a coop!¬†Hardware cloth is actually¬†better suited for enclosing chicken coops than chicken wire, as it is more rigid and features a tighter weave that provides better protection against predators. Take a tour of Erica’s contemporary, hardware-cloth skinned coop at NWEdible. [...]

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