Category Archives: How to make a chicken coop

Building your own backyard chicken coop doesn’t have to be complicated. In the planning stages you can draw inspiration from some of the ready-made plans we have, or just go wild with some graph paper and a pencil and start getting some of your ideas down. Your chickens won’t complain if it doesn’t look like a palace but you will find problems if it is not secure, dry and draft free. Other than that, just enjoy!

Adding Wheels To Your Movable Chicken Tractor

In the video below Donald Loose shows how he has attached some wheels to his moveable chicken coop so that it lies flat when the chickens are in it, but when he needs it to be moved to another place in the yard the lever can be pushed over to raise the coop up off the ground and it can be wheeled into a new position with minimal effort. That way his flock can enjoy their home being in a fresh area of his backyard which gives the soil they were on a chance to recover (and them a new cleaner patch to live on).

To do so he used two handles made from scrap lumber, about 18 inches long and a couple of old lawnmower wheels attached with half inch bolts and nuts and washers. Lug bolts for the paddles to rest on and a block of wood to put a bit of space between the wheel and the coop on each side so that it can pivot freely.

So basically the wheels get bolted to the paddles. Then, the paddles get bolts through the block of wood and the bottom base board of the chicken coop. A similar system could be used on a different coop design. There are many variations possible. Often it will be an a frame chicken tractor, some are built with a ramp up to a door cut out of a top level where the chickens can roost and lay their eggs, and then underneath they have a built in pen secured traditionally with chicken wire (although galvanised steel wire / hardware cloth is actually a stronger, more secure choice).

Our collection of chicken coop designs include several chicken tractors. We have an A frame chicken house (also known as a triangle chicken coop) as well as an under tree design, one with an upstairs roost and a retangular chicken tractor. Unless the building is being done with some really heavy solid wood they should all be movable by two people but it may make your chicken tractor easier to move if wheels are added.

chicken tractor plans with in built wire run and chance for the birds to free range

Ever Heard of Raising Your Chickens on the Roof?

It would have seemed odd to me, under normal circumstances...

but a couple weeks ago I got a very strange request from a reader who wants to build small garden plots on top of his warehouse type roof, so that he can raise chickens on them.

Now, looking back on the mesage he sent, I'm thinking to myself, that's pretty cool! He wants to be mostly organic, and completely 100% self sufficient.

And then I read this, in the Dayton Daily news:

In 1909, Chef J. Redrey was brought in to oversee the fourth-floor, formal dining room. The Sunday menu included lobster cocktail, green sea turtle soup, fresh crab meat a la Newburg, roast prime beef dema glace, steamed potatoes, filet mignon Stanley, German asparagus, Nesselrode pudding, Roquefort cheese and coffee. To ensure patrons received only the freshest product, a chicken coop was built on the hotel's roof.

What do you think?

Is raising chickens on the roof a good idea?
Is it really possible to do?
What is the best way to do it?

Well here is a photo of one rooftop garden chicken coop

keeping chickens on a roof
Some good points I can see straight away are that it saves space in your backyard - and it must be harder for four legged predators to get to 🙂

Portable and Mobile Chicken Coops

In our first couple days we talked about...

-> Temperature
-> Predators
-> Essentials to consider before building
-> The most important coop building materials

In today's note, we'll talk about portability or mobility.

There are many reason why you might want a portable chicken coop.

  • Chickens can quickly scour a small area of all grass and other foods very quickly - so they need to be moved often to have fresh food to scratch at.
  • So they can't get into your garden and other plants and eat them. (When they are cooped up in a mobile coop, they can't do that)
  • You can quickly and easily fertilize different areas of your yard (chickens are well-known to be great organic fertilizer producers and so a 'chicken tractor' can help with the gardening where once the chickens have finished preparing and fertilizing a garden bed or other area they then get moved onto another section to get to work on.

Whether you are making a traditional A frame coop or rectangle single or two story chicken house and run, one of the easiest ways to make a coop portable is to use 2 x 2, or 1 x 2, framing lumber, instead of larger 2 x 4 lumber. This makes your framing light, but sturdy enough to handle your flock. To help make your chicken tractor more moveable you could add wheels to the base or even place a piece of pvc pipe underneath the frame when you want to move it which should roll with the coop as pull it along.

Here's a picture showing you the type of lumber pieces I'm talking about:

chicken coop lumber pieces

The most important thing about portable chicken coops is...

If you need to move it regularly it is probably best if you can move it by hand. Some are built to be moved by cars or farm equipment, but unless these are easily accessible, you most likely will never move the coop (see the 2nd mistake people make when building a coop)

So... easily movable, by hand, with 1 or 2 people is going to be easiest for you in the long run.

You can check out some mobile chicken coop plans here:
http://www.chickencoopplan.com

chicken tractor plans

Not-so-Helpful Advice About Building a Coop From My Friends

By Kelson Spear

The funny thing is, even though I grew up on the farm I never paid attention to the chicken coop. I never noticed how it was built. I never realized how the chickens have a schedule for laying their eggs. I never noticed the different clucking sounds they made just hanging out together.

It's strange to me - almost like re-reading a book after 5 years - you remember some of the story line, but a lot of the details are foggy.

Some of the past was so memorable, but then some of the details just weren't clear.

And the more people I asked about "HOW TO" build a coop, the more vague, sketchy answers I got.

And since I couldn't remember all the details, I asked a LOT of people.

Some of the responses went like this...

"Oh, it's just a chicken coop, you just make a wooden box". This was the response from an old timer, when I asked for his help. AS IF just anyone could whip together a perfectly sized little box built strong enough to hold together, but still be light enough to be mobile (And I got the same response from the Feed Store - I might add)

Another person said this, "Well, my dad actually built my coop. So you can come look at it, but I can't really tell you how we did it."

In addition to those "How-to" responses, one guy told me I would need to buy some specific tools to cut the lumber. So I actually went out and bought some real "power tools", because I didn't have any. (A circular skill saw was his minimum recommendation)

But... I didn't actually use the saw.

Well, I tried to.

But I didn't screw the blade on tight enough, so it only cut through half of one of my plywood sheets, loosened the blade, and scared me. So - I abandoned it.

It's still just sitting there in my garage.

Some of those power tools scare me. That's how "un-mechanical" I am.

Sad huh?

I've heard horror stories of cutting off fingers and arms.
And I don't want to do that to myself.

And I have since found that I didn't have to - Many wood suppliers will cut to your specifications.

On top of all that, other people questioned me on if I could keep chickens in town or not. So they had NO CLUE what advice to give me.

On and on went these ever-so-helpful details.

-----------------------------
The Coop Journey Begins
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And so I decided to begin my own journey.

What probably takes some people minutes to do took me hours to think through, and draw, and plan.

Along with tons of help from books I bought and notes I'd taken - I might add.

Did it turn out perfect? No
Was it simple? No
Did I have to try different ideas? Yes
Did it take HOURS? Yes - over 8 hours on the first coop with 2 people working on it. OUCH!
Did I need help? Yes
Did I spend a LOT more MONEY than I should have? Yes
Am I proud of what I accomplished? ABSOLUTELY
Would I do it again? Yes

After going through all of this, I can honestly say...

YOU CAN DO THIS!

Even if you've never held a hammer, or drilled a hole, or sawed on a piece of wood.

You can do this.

Here are the 3 Biggest Chicken Coop Mistakes People Make…

Today, I want to talk about the 3 biggest mistakes people make when they're building their coops...

1. It's too hard to get the eggs from the nest box.
2. It's impossible to move, what should be, a mobile coop.
3. It's too difficult to clean the coop often enough.

1. When you design your coop, just keep in mind that it has to be simple for you to gather up the eggs quickly. If at all possible, you need to be able to get to the eggs without having to go inside the coop. Whatever you do, don't make it mind-bogglingly difficult to get to the eggs. Simpler and faster is better.

2. I've seen several of these lately:

Large coops that were built to be mobile, but they seem to have slowly and painfully grown roots. Some of my friends build their coops a little bit too heavy to be moved by hand. Of course, they always tell me they can easily hook up a truck or tractor to move it whenever they want.

Unfortunately, over time, 'whenever' becomes never.

And so their coop sits in one spot.

Instead, either plan you mobile coop better - so you can move it by yourself or with 1 other person - OR - design a stationary coop.

3. A very important coop factor is cleanliness. You've heard that cleanliness is next to God-liness? Well no where is this more truthful than with your coop. A good guideline is a 1-2 time per week scraping of the coop. AND a quarterly complete cleaning.

----

P.S. A couple other additional mistakes I see would be these...

4. Underestimating a chickens ability to fly - especially if you are trying to keep chickens out of a garden OR out of someone else's yard.

5. Not providing enough shade, water, and air flow (ventilation) when it's really hot outside.

The Coolest Features of A Mad Scientist’s Chicken House!

One of the most interesting chicken houses I ever saw was a mobile, double decker with a small run on the bottom floor, and an enclosed house on the top floor. Despite it's small size it was kind of like an exotic recipe of ingredients, with so many wonderful features that you absolutely need to hear every one to see if you want to include them in your own chicken houses.

So where do we begin? How about we start from the bottom up?

The frame of this mobile coop sat on four wheels - one mounted to each of the four corners. Obviously, the fact that there were four corners, means the coop was built in a square or rectangle shape. The chicken house's frame sat just a little bit off the ground (like 1/2 inch or so). The inside roof height of the chicken run was a couple feet tall. There were a couple of access doors, and a wire skirt around the edge of the bottom floor run.

The second floor of the chicken house included all the standard features of a good chicken house, like... roosts, nest boxes, a waterer, and a feeder. But it also looked like a mad scientist's top-secret lab, and included some Inspector Gadget type chicken features, like... mesh floor with removable droppings drawer, electrical power capabilities, a heater, and a timed light.

The top floor exterior of the chicken house, while pretty standard, still had some features worth writing home about. There were handles for easily grabbing and moving the chicken house. The exterior also sported mesh covered air vent holes, locking access doors, and exterior door egg access.

Finally, as if also designed by some space age inventor, there was a lightning-rod style post attached to the top, which anchored an electrical extension cord to the chicken house. The cord plugged in and powered the coop, and ran through the air over to an electrical plug on the outside of the chicken owner's home.

While I think the electricity was awesome, I also want to make a cautionary comment... not everyone is going to be able to properly wire up an electrical outlet to a moving chicken house. So, if you do decide to build a coop with this feature, please proceed with caution. I think that goes without saying, but I have to make sure you are aware that there are risks involved, not the least of which could be death for you or your flock.

portable coop with electricity

The ability to power this chicken house, while still keeping it completely mobile, made this chicken house the most amazing compact chicken home I've ever seen. And I hope it inspires you stretch the boundaries of what you think are possible for your chickens, and reach out to do what seems impossible.

Kelson~

4 Essential Questions You MUST Answer Before You Start Your Chicken Coop!

In order to make the best chicken coop for you and your family, several factors need to be considered. You want the chicken coop most suited to your home environment... the coop that will allow your family to raise chickens in the easiest, lowest-stress, and most enjoyable way possible.

WARNING: Don't buy or build a chicken coop until you've answered each of these four questions below...

First - What is the environment of your home and family? When I say environment, I don't mean how do all the members of your family get along. I am referring to the actual temperature and climate around your house.

For example... Does it rarely get below 60 degrees Fahrenheit in your area? Does it snow, and get below freezing for two to three months out of the year around your home? Is the ground always wet and saturated around the location where you are planning on building your chicken coop? Does the sun ever shine where you are wanting to put your chicken coop? Each of these factors has a huge impact on how, and where, you decide to build your coop.

Depending on the answers, you might decide to put a warming light in the coop, or use insulation in the walls.

Secondly - What kinds of animals will come in contact with your chickens in the chicken coop? Again, answering this question will have a HUGE impact on what kind of coop you build, and where and how you build it.

Eliminating predators is a big part of keeping your chickens alive, happy, and healthy. If you have bears, or raccoons, or snakes, or other types of predators in your area, you will need to build their predatory styles of attack into your chicken coop design. Some larger animals can only be stopped by electrified fencing.

Wild birds will also have an influence on your coop building. Due to avian flu and other wild bird diseases, you may need to consider how you will limit access to your chickens from wild birds. While some other areas will have very little access to wild birds or animals, so it won't be very much of a concern for you when you plan and design your coop. Keeping wild birds out can be as simple as using ultra-small netting, or it might require a hard roof over the entire coop and run area.

outside nestbox coop

Third - Which type and size of chickens, and flock, do you plan to keep? This will also have a large impact on your chicken coop ideas. Some chickens... Plymouth rock or Cornish chickens, for example, which grow rapidly, are typically kept to provide meat. These chickens are also known as broilers. Other chickens, the leghorn varieties, for example, are kept for their prolific egg production. These chickens are known as layers. So, whatever you are hoping to get out of your chickens will influence the type of flock you keep.

The size of your chickens will decide several things, including how much roost space you need or how big your nest boxes should be.

Finally - After you've answered all three of the questions above, you'll be ready to answer this one final question about your chicken coop. Do you want it to be mobile or stationary? Based on many of the answers to the questions above you will come up with a decision for the style of coop you want to build. If your flock is large - above 12 hens, then you may need to go with a stationary (unmovable) coop, or you're going to need to build a couple moveable coops. If a small flock, then mobile is fine. If LOTS of large predators live nearby, then you're going to need a stationary coop with buried, and maybe even electrified, fencing.

Building a chicken coop that fits your family and your lifestyle doesn't have to be hard, but it does take some serious thought and planning to get it right. If you can clearly answer the four questions above, then you should be well on your way to creating a great chicken coop for your home.

Chicken Coop Pictures – For Fun Ideas And Inspiration

Here's a compilation of some  different chicken coop pictures that a few readers of the keeping chickens newsletter have shared with me over the last little bit ...It's important to know what you want out of a chicken coop, because there are SO MANY different types and styles out there.

And these are just a few of chicken coop designs you can pick from. These designs go from simple, to difficult, from small, to large, and from cheap, to super expensive. I hope some of these chicken coop pictures give you some great planning ideas:

  • There are stationary chicken coops. Like these:

stationary chicken coop

country cottage chicken coop

Converted coops like these

converted boat trailer
Converted Boat Trailer
converted wooden playset
Converted Wooden Playset
  • There are TONS of mobile chicken coops. Like these:

mobile chicken coops

  • And that's just the coops. Wait until you see what all is available for perches, runs, feeding, watering, nesting, roosting, health, etc ...

egg baskets

nestboxes and pop hole

All of these, PLUS a whole bunch more are key factors for chicken coop ideas.

Build a Chicken Coop – Part 1 Chicken Coop Supplies

I'm sure the Department of Defense has an indestructible, bomb-proof chicken house, somewhere, that they're developing.

You know ... Something made out of chicken coop supplies like ... titanium, kevlar, nylon, or some other space-age material. Unfortunately, I've never seen it. And yes, I have been watching for something like that. Whenever I'm out scouting chicken coops, I watch for amazing, predator-proof chicken coops.

Of course, I could never afford a coop like that.

But I would LOVE to see what they would build. And, I know we all want to make our coops bomb-proof, so our chickens will survive a long, long time. But, instead of relying on the military, and their bomb-proof chicken coop supplies, you and I have to piece together our coops with the most reliable, strongest, and lowest-cost supplies we can get our hands on.

So, today I want to discuss some of the most common supplies or materials used in building coops. I have actually heard people talk about lots of different building materials and re-purposed structures...

Things like:

  • Wood
  • Brick
  • Stone
  • Plastic
  • Cars
  • Metal
  • Boats
  • Playhouses
  • Shelving units
  • Wire cages

Pretty much … If someone can find an empty space, or stack something up, they've probably used it to build a chicken coop before.

And, in the United States wood is usually pretty cheap. You can even find it for free in some places. I used wood to build my little mobile coops. Most folks, you’ll talk to for advice, would most likely suggest using wood as the basic starting point for your coop as well.

Your coop's exterior shell can be built with low cost, or even freely scavenged lumber, fiberglass, metal, or plywood. One of these should be enough to ward off most elements and temperature changes.

Finally, you'll definitely want some chicken fencing wire, also known as chicken mesh, for a run. Personally, I wouldn't go for anything larger than 1" mesh. Smaller is better - but more expensive.