Introduction: Ethos of Coop Design

Picture of Ethos of Coop Design

Anyone can build a chicken coop.

The goal here is to help you feel confident moving forward with backyard chickens. The birds are sturdy and I learned from the first design that they can live in even the crudest of coops. The second cleaned up the yard and made it easier to help others take the step.

Two Designs

  1. Build out of found materials. All salvaged from past projects.
  2. Custom design. Simple and priced around $40.

Step 1: Meet the Hens

Picture of Meet the Hens

Pearl, Gertie, Rose and Bubs

These four birds (two daisy marsh, a pearl and a standard) were forced to live in the shack shown in the back ground of these early photos. They were raised in the Broadmoor neighborhood of New Orleans.

The original lean to is a basic as it gets but provided them with safe, functional housing. The laying box and roosting poll were all they really needed and on most nights the door was left open. Predators weren't a concern.

Step 2: Redesigned Coop: Overview

Picture of Redesigned Coop: Overview

The redesigned coop was lighter, easier to clean and provided more space. It was also easier to build.


  1. A-frame structure
  2. Horizontal connections
  3. Sheathing
  4. Finishing


  • (12) 2x4s
  • (1) sheet of 5/8" plywood
  • nails/screws
  • 50' roll of chicken wire
  • Staples/Staple gun
  • Hammer/saw/drill/driver (standard tools shown in photo)

*always use untreated material and avoid painter surfaces that the birds may peck at

Step 3: 1. A-Frame

Picture of 1. A-Frame

My first step was building a standard A-Frame.

There's no right answer for the dimensions but I worked off an equilateral triangle. The two long members meet at 60 degrees and the mid-span are two members that sandwich together. The connections were solid (over-designed, to be honest). The angle mean that I didn't need to adjust the miter saw i was borrowing from my neighbor.

On the two ends i left the outside mid-spans run long. you can still see the pencil mark in the photos. These longer members gave me an additional nailing surface and a cleaner look.

Step 4: 2. Horizontal Connections

Picture of 2. Horizontal Connections

The framing can be adjusted to different size coops. I used a 48" wide door. Drawing the dimension from the sheet of plywood. It allowed for another 2' of open space... using the dimension of the chicken wire. Total of 6' long.

I used screws for the horizontal members which made it ease to take apart and transport.

Step 5: 3. Sheathing

Picture of 3. Sheathing

One piece of plywood was all that it required to create the door, lean to roof, small section and the drawer. The draw makes it easier to clean and is shown in may coops. I rarely used it and found it easier to simple use the broom to brush away droppings.

For the drawer I used the circular saw to cut way the lip of the 2x4 and then added 1by material to provide support along a-frames.

Handles... you're better off to use cabinet hardware. the original wood was left unpainted and cracked as soon as it rained.

Step 6: 4. Finishing

Picture of 4. Finishing

For the design I worked off the dimensions of the chicken wire. The lower section was a little less than 2' and the open section just passed the house also had a 2' span. This is the easiest way to work with the material... use the dimensions in the design.

I used staples for the second coop. The first was drywall screws through bottle top washers.

Step 7: On Display

Picture of On Display

The coop was shown in 2010 at a neighborhood market. It fit in with programming teaching kids how to cook with eggs. The last photo is a group of students learning to make egg salad.

Step 8: Good Luck

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If you have any questions I can provide feedback that will make you feel more confident that you can raise backyard chickens.

Good luck!!


buck2217 (author)2015-07-01

Is this the 2 birds 1 coop I have heard about !! :-)

brianchadorourke (author)2015-02-27

I like the A-frame design. It looks like it'll be easy to move around the yard too. Thanks a bunch.

hegure_ryu (author)2014-12-23

Good work. I liked how you designed it using the size of the wire. I learned from my dad to design using the sizes of the materials so there is the least amount of cutting and waste. So this type of designung has always been important.

jprussack (author)hegure_ryu2015-01-07

Thanks for calling out the key point! Designing around the materials is essential

daveofwar (author)2015-01-07

Nicely done sir! Looks great! Actually made the same style coop too, found mine a bit too heavy using 2x4s. Going to redesign it just like you did. Excellent work!

jprussack (author)daveofwar2015-01-07

Thanks! The first version was exceptionally heavy... especially factoring in the weight of an exterior door

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