Introduction: MY $120 "Lollipop" Chicken Coop
So here is our chicken coop. This all stemmed from a white chicken that appeared at our door step one day. No joke, one day a big white chicken was at our front door. Funny enough my wife, whom grew up in New Mexico surrounded by farm animals, had just mentioned getting chickens and I told her I thought she was crazy. So after much convincing that she was not behind it, we took it as a sign and decided to keep the chicken. So of course she needed a home and here is what we ended up with.
When we decided to make the coup I wanted to spend no money on it, just money on things we couldn't up cycle. We basically built this entire thing out of some 2x2's, pallet wood, and a few finds (i will tell you where to look) and some home depot hardware and a few pieces of wood "oops" home depot wood. In all we probably spent less than a $100 but I factor a little extra for things you might not have.
The pics above show when it was first completed in the raw wood look, and what it looks like now with some oops paint thrown on it. The inspiration for this coop came from a magazine titled "20 coops to have in your backyard" or something like that.. any way this "popsicle" style coop was originally intended for someone who has a sloped property and i thought the look was to cool. I did change some aspects of it, added another window in the rear, moved the egg boxes, added a 2 part staircase with a landing half way, added additional doors and so on. But this is my interpretation of it and it works fantastically.
*Yes, in some of the more recent photos you will notice another smaller coop version sitting next to it. We originally had some rabbits in there, but they liked going under the fence and into the neighbor hood more than the coop. Because we are urban farming we had some predator (we have chased cats, opossums, and a frickin HAWK away) get ahold of some baby chicks and so we fortified the small one and use it for 6 small chicks until they move to the big one.
Hey if you like the project, be sure to vote!
Step 1: Basic Rundown of the Project Resources and Items Used
The photos on this step are in reference to show you some of the "materials" that we used
1. The SS lag bolts counter sunk with a nut
2. The wing nut that holds the front window frame in place
3. The hardware cloth used
4. The scraps of tar paper and short roof nails
5. My neighbors roof being redone and where we got the roofing supplies
6. A image of the floor or wood laminated bottom of the coop (and Matilda the chicken)
7. Scrap piece of the floor being used for the "nesting" box (where they lay eggs)
8. Outside image of the "Frame" used for the front removable "window" or "panel"
9. A image showing how I did the landing to the stair case (4"x4" post into ground)
10. Image showing (what i call it) an eye hook lock for access to egg box.
11. I was at the mall yesterday and saw a piece that would work perfectly for the bottom... just to show you the crap is everywhere when you look.
Building this coop we wanted to go around and get the supplies from things being tossed away. We collected pallets, 2x2's, 2x4's, roofing shingles (my neighbor was redoing his roof and we had all the extra cuts) and so on.. I will mention some of the best places that we discovered some great supplies.
Obviously feel free to go purchase the items you might need, but you can get most of this stuff from things people are throwing out.
Pallets- we used the slats for the side panels. (you can buy cheap Fence Pickets or thin .5 x 4inch wide long boards. Where to find: Shopping centers! Behind places that have a kmart and other stores attached. ONLY take stuff if it is in the dumpster or next to a dumpster, don't get in trouble for stealing, if in doubt just ask.
*We purchase chicken food from a local feed store and they throw out damaged pallets (1 or 2 slats broken) and they told us we could take as many as we wanted...
The Floor of the coop- we found a 48"x48" .5 inch thick laminated plywood board behind a kitchen cabinet store. (We wanted something laminated or treated so it would be water or "chicken waste" proof for easy wiping out. Google kitchen cabinet showrooms in your area, those $10,000 cabinet setups get delivered on primo pallets and heave duty thick bases that are sometimes used for delivery and are tossed out... **Our floor was a great find, but you could use a 1/2 thick piece of plywood that is sanded and sealed or laminate added to it. Having that real smooth surface is nice but not a deal breaker.
Structure Wood 2x2's(walls of coop and the roof supports)- Out front of an apartment building. (I think i ended up purchasing a few more. Check the oops wood area! All the warped ones they want to get rid of!)
Roof asphalt tiles- Neighbor was redoing his roof, took all the extra cuts from the ground and the scraps of tar paper.
Screws- I had, both. Course drywall screws 1 3/4 and 2 1/2 inches. (Buy 2 boxes of each.)
Things I purchased
Hardware- I purchased. 1/4 Hardware Cloth , 4 sets (of 2) Hinges, 3 toggle bolts, 1 eye hook latch, 2 3inch SS Lag bolts with 2 matching nuts and 2 matching wing nuts.
15/32" thick sheet of pressure treated plywood. I used it to layout my side wall design and for the roof panels later... more on that in the steps.
Short roofing nails (for tar paper and shingles) so they wouldn't penetrate to the inside of the coop and hurt the chickens.
8 x aluminum window cap (used as the drip rail on the roof. Just screwed them down and bent them under by hand as i screwed it underneath)
2 4x4 Post from the oops pile at home depot. They have a section where they put damaged or mis cut pieces of wood sold for 70% off. I always check it and got my 8ft 4x4 from there, the end was cracked and I only need 6 ft of it.
2 bags of concrete
6 Fence Pickets for the frame of the front window(outside) also for stairs
* I gave you the links so you can get an idea of the things I used, again I am no pro but this is what I used and it seems to have worked pretty well. Be sure to adjust or change where you need.
Just to recap:
Pallets for wood side paneling (*I used the pallet slats for the side paneling, you can avoid that by simply buying fence pickets or 4" wide planks and adjust your plan accordingly.)
10-12 2x2's for wall structure roof struts( we actually found a pile of them and is why we used them)
2'x4'x.5" thick base (laminated or treated)
6 ft 4"x4" for stand of coop
4 ft 4"x4" for stand of staircase
6 Fence pickets for trim on front panel and stairs
Hardware= Hinges, toggle bolt locks, eye hole lock, hardware cloth, aluminum drip rail, misc. screws, roofing nails, toggle bolts-nuts-wing nuts.
Misc- Scrap pieces of wood for side runners for stairs and back trim.
Step 2: Start With the Base.
Ok, please forgive me, I am not a architect or an engineer. I am a backyard guy. I've seen some of the stuff on instructables and I know these guys are on here, but this is how I did it and it will work just fine for a lot of you.
While I began building my wife had the patience to strip down the pallets and take out the nails off the strips we were going to use for the side exterior paneling.
I started with the base. The base we found was 48"x48"
I cut the base to 40" on one side giving it a dimension of 40"x48"
I flipped it over (so the floor is upside down) then attached 2x4's around the underside. I found the center of the rectangle by drawing lines from corner to corner and traced out the 4x4 so i would know where the 4x4 would go through. Once you trace out the 4x4 use a drill to get a starter hole and cut out the 4x4 outline with a skill saw so the 4x4 can now pass through. The 4x4 was just used to make sure that I had the hole the proper size. Then i simply ran additional 2x4's and boxed around the whole i just made. *The above picture show me with just the middle supports, you still need to cut small blocks in so the 4x4 hole is boxed all the way around 4 sides. I screwed directly through the laminated floor from the other side into the 2x4's. Just screw down enough to make the heads of the screws flush..
Here is a basic diagram on what my set up looked like.
Step 3: The Side Wall Frames
So to keep it simple and uniform i laid out my 4x8 sheet of plywood and built the wall on that.
I used 2"x2"x8' (actually what ever length i could get, but if your buying them, longer is always slightly cheaper)
Going off the length of my base 48" inches i knew the bottom part of the wall would be 48 inches long and the top because it angles out as it goes would be longer. So by laying it out I was able to do 2 things, see the angle I liked and also determine the wall height.
Because I would have pallet slats on the side and doors on both sides, I determined that I wanted the doors to to have full slat pieces on them. The first Image and second images you'll notice that the slats go over the doors and run horizontal across the doors. The "cut out" of the door or the space it closes into is where the natural line or gap on how the slats were laid. The reason I mention that is if you look at the overall height of the wall or coop, I used full slats, meaning i did not have to split any at the top or bottom. They are all full pieces.
So if you decide to buy or get a great deal on wood that is 4" wide boards, or 5" i did the math on my walls and door design to accommodate. Example my slats were 2.75 inches wide. So i used 11 of them (2.75x11=30.25 inches) i made my walls 30.25 inches tall. Then for my doors i would make there openings at 6 slats or (6x2.75=16.5) 16.50 inches tall...
Once i designed one of the walls, i was able to simply layout the wood for another one, right on top and make a copy. 2 walls, each with a door, and then i simply reversed the walls so one door was near the front and the other one had the door near the back. Then simply screw down the base (on the top laminated side) and you should be looking at a base with 2 side walls.
Now you want to run some 2x2 across the top, i did 5 total to lock together the walls at the top. Put one at each end, 1 in the middle, then 1 in each half section for a total of 5.
Now the end you have designated as the front you can put a 2x2 across the bottom along the floor from one wall to the other and leave the other end open.(no 2x2 so you can sweep out the end if need be).
You will notice in the 4th pic that I ran some 1x4 across. The bottom one was attached at the "header" of the rear door and you can run a matching 2x2 on the other side to attach the other end of the 1x4. That is the beginning of the nesting box. The other 1x4 that you can see the face of was put like that for a reason, so eggs and nesting material wouldn't fall out.
*I ended cutting the bottom 2x2 at the door threshold so it wouldnt interfere with sweeping out the inside of the coop... so when you open the doors there is NO 2x2 running across the bottom
Diagram above of my sketch
Step 4: Nesting Box
1. Picture from the front looking at the nesting boxes (2 Nesting boxes, 1 supply storage)
2. Another general nesting box pic.
3. Another general pic of nesting box.
4. Pic shows the "scrap wood dividers"
5. Nesting boxes from inside
6. Another overall pic.
7. Simple access door for nesting box.
8. Another pic showing inside and more nesting box
9. Another pic of nesting box door open.
10. Pic of left over pieces of laminated wood floor of coop used as floor of nesting box.
11 & 12. Images of nesting boxes before dividers
Ok, so putting in the nesting boxes it pretty simple. Like i mentioned in the last step, the support of the nesting box is screwed to the header of one of the rear doors header and attached evenly on the opposite side with a 2x2. So it pretty easily dictates on how high up it is. The nesting box takes up just under 50% of the rear area.
Once the supports are in your just going to screw in some floor panels.
You already have a rear lip to keep in eggs and nesting material, you'll see in some of my pics (last 2) i put in a lip on the inside that the chickens can jump onto or over, to keep in the nesting material as well.
At one time we had 6 chickens laying eggs at once and basically they all like to use the same box (yes 6 eggs in one box) sometimes they use the other one, but mostly one box. Also when i put in the divider i have each nesting box 15 inches in width and then blocked off the rest as a storage area. Unless you have 10-15 chickens 2 boxes are plenty.. but you could use as a third if you like.
Step 5: Roof Struts
Again, looking back at it now i would have taken a lot more pics, but like I had mentioned... when your up-cycling the best laid plans will need some improvisation. Well if you haven't figured it out by now, there is a lot of this going on...
Because I am a simpleton and didn't feel like re-learning algebra i kept it really simple and went back to my sheet of plywood to lay it out a template and cut the wood needed for 5 struts.
Previously you had cut straight beams to run across the tops of the walls (5 in total) to lock it all together. Now we will put on the angle struts to hold the roof panel.
So I simply standing in front of the coop i know the width was 40 inches. So i simply made 2 marks at 40 inches apart along one of the long edges of the plywood. Then found the middle and made a mark. At the middle mark i extended a line up 15 inches at that was my peak of my roof. I then took a 2x2 and placed it on the mark and traced the line to the wood to get the angles at both ends for cuts. Then i simply made 5 sets and screwed it all together. It might not feel very strong, but once its all screwed together it is darn strong. And the additional small long triangles you see at the peaks of the roof struts i achieved by drawing it out on the plywood and cutting it out on a piece of paper and then cut out 5 from scrap wood...
Please check out my 5th grade drawing sketch...
Step 6: Siding of the Coop / Doors / and Access Panels..
When i was ready to put the siding on, i made some marks on the side walls every 2.75 inches (or whatever width planks your using) just as a reminder, a visual, on where my slats are landing. For the ends i would put up a plank and mark the angle of the end wall on the slat then cut the angle then attach or mark the door opening and cut corresponding marks. So my end angle cuts were flush with the end wall angle struts, the end panels or windows would butt up to the end cuts... see pics, pretty self explanatory..
Panel the sides leaving the door uncovered like i did in my pics. For the nesting box i screwed together a rectangular 2x2 with a few support cross pieces. I clamped the rectangular grid in place and put my slats for the top and bottom of this door section then filled in the middle pieces...
The doors were built the same way.. made a 2x2 box, clamped in place then cut slats to cover the side doors....
For the front again, a 2x2 square frame just slightly short of a snug fit then attached my hardware cloth to the front of the square and then used fence pickets to cut at a 45 to get the "finished window look" and screwed the 2x2 with hardware cloth to the back of the pickets.
In the rear of the coop where I have another mesh door, I repeat the same process, 2x2 rectangle, cut and screwed hardware cloth and then cut fence pickets on a 45 and sandwich the cloth, screw 2x2 to fence pickets add hinges to the bottom.
Step 7: Mounting to the 4x4 Post
Like i had mentioned previously in the first step.. we would always pass by the oops wood area looking for any treasures.. there are always a 4x4 or 2 there. We scored a 8 ft that had a slightly crushed end and we scored it for 70% off..
So with post hole digger in hand i dug out a 2ft hole and mixed up 2 bags of cement and put the post in. I knew I wanted the post to go though the coop and i would attach a roosting bar to it so i cut the post at the 4ft mark from the ground.
Once your concrete is set (24 hours) i measured up 30 inches from the ground and made mark. I attached some scrap pieces to the mark just underneath so when we lifted and lowered the coop onto the post it could temporarily sit on the wood scraps. Once I was happy with the height i screwed into the box 2x4's, i had originally put in (boxing out the 4x4 hole floor step 2) and through into the post... a few screws in each side.. and then removed the scrape wood.
Step 8: Roof of the Coop
So now your wonderful plywood with all the plans you get to cut longways right down the middle. This will be the 2 roof panels you will use. I simply cut in half and lifted one side up and aligned it down the middle at the peak of the roof and the same with the other side and screwed it down to the struts underneath.
Then i played around with the angle that i wanted to cut on the roof..
* I am no roofer, but i figured i would give it a shot and it seem to work out pretty well.
I took the tar paper scraps that we got from the neighbors new roofing job.. starting at the bottom edge of the roof panels and then work your way up overlapping slightly.. I then took the aluminum window caps that had one bend and ran it along and nailed in along the edge going all the way around.
Then starting at the bottom start laying shingles and attaching with roofing nails. Make sure that the horizontal rows overlap the layer below and stagger the grooves on the shingles... watch a youtube video for more specific info if your unsure.
Step 9: Hardware and Front Panel Bolts
So at this point you can attach all the hinges and locking bolts if you have not done so already.
For the front panel i simply held it in place and put a couple of long screws in to hold it in place. I then took my drill bit and drilled through the outside frame all the way through the 2x2's behind. So make sure prior to drilling that your in a spot where you can drill into the 2x2's as well. Then remove the panel with and the temporary screws you put in to just hold it in. Then using a spade bit or much larger drill bit so you can counter sink the hole so you can attach the nut to the bolt and lock it into place, make the hole for the nut deep enough so it is flush with the 2x2 and does not interfere.
Then you can put the panel back up, put the end of the bolts through the holes in the front panel and attach and lock into place with the wing nuts.
You can also cut out your triangular pieces of hardware cloth and attach at the front and rear of the roof struts to ensure nothing is crawling in.
Step 10: The Stairs /mini Roof/ Roosting Bar
Originally when i saw this coop that served as my inspiration it had a stair case that came up through the floor, it was cool but didn't work for us. So that is why i put a door on the side and made a little overhang with scrap wood.
For the mini roof i just cut a couple of triangles and attached underneath with some scrap wood. I then treated just like the big roof, tar paper, aluminum trim and shingles.
First i made a simple landing/walkout platform from the door of the coop by attaching some boards 12x14" platform then cut some supports under it and attached to the coop. Then i simply buried another 4x4 post at the outside rear corner of the coop on the same side with this door at 2ft down in the ground and coming up 15 inches. I then screwed a 8x8 square piece of wood and attached at the top of the small post and then ran a 1x4 to attach from the walk out at the coop door down to the first post and then another run down to the ground.
The coop is 30 inches up in the air so i just put the 2nd post at 15 inches and it looks great when its done. then just attach some cross runners so the chickens can use them coming down and not sliding
The roosting bar was simply some tree that the neighbor had cut down and we attached to our 4x4 on the inside. It is at a spot that they can go under it to the back, on it to roost, or climb towards the back of the roosting bar and jump into the nesting box.. simple.
Step 11: Underneath and the Feeder...
So one of the reasons we really like this coop is because of the area underneath.
We get a lot of rain and wanted an area that the chickens could eat and hang out dry.. so this served that purpose.
We found a big antique looking cream or fresh milk jug at a home goods and i drilled a hole in it and attached a screw to a 2liter bottle cap. I then threaded the screw onto a wine cork and after a few days the chickens figured out that if they pecked at the wine cork that it would jiggle the cap and food would come out. We trimmed the 2 liter cap slightly and fine tuned it but it works great. Also my wife originally (as she stands over my shoulder reading this and reminds me) that she had hot glued some popcorn corn kernels to the cork originally and the chickens would peck at it and they put 2 + 2 together.
I really hope that i can answer most of your questions here, like i said, I found a design I liked and made it my own. When its mostly stuff you have found or stuff you have lying around don't be afraid to cut it, screw it, glue it, and just experiment with it. That is kind of what i did and I am happy with the results. Shoot me any questions.. Thanks!