Intro: Automated Chicken Coop (with Drawer)
Ever considered raising chickens but were thrown off by the maintenance requirements and the cost of getting a coop? Boy do we have a solution for you! We've designed an automated, upcycled chicken coop that can fit all of your organic, cruelty free, affordable egg production needs.
First Things First - Things to Consider:
The size of your coop will depend on the number and breed of your chickens. Here's a quick outline of space requirements per breed to make this coop-building process even easier and more convenient for you:
- Heavy Breed: 4 Square Feet (Berred Rock, Buff Orpington, Australop, etc.) *These breeds are generally desirable for meat production, but are included here to maximize your options.
- Light Breed: 3 Square Feet (White Leghorn, Minorca, Appenzeller, etc.)
- Small Breed: 2 Square Feet (Rosecomb Bantam, Sebrights, etc.)
The coop design outlined in this guide is tailored to house up to 4 medium breed laying hens. Once you've settled on your preferred breed and number of chickens, this design can be scaled up or scaled down as needed. Keep in mind that there can never be too much space inside the coop, but there can be too little.
Remember, heat and moisture are no friends of chickens. Do not neglect the vents, as they can prevent heat and moisture buildup inside the coop.
- Measuring Tape
- Power Drill / Screw Driver
- Miter Saw / Hand Saw
Fowl Play is a strong advocate of upcycling: the use of materials found in waste streams to create something innovative.
The guide included in the following steps was made to maximize flexibility in terms of materials and their dimensions. Along with the guide are the steps we took to build our own lil chicken coop.
Waterproof any wood using primer.
See these guides for automation:
Step 1: FRAME
We used three 3' long 2x4s, and two 4' long 2x4s. They were fixed using four L-brackets.
The two, shorter, outer 2x4s floor beams were nailed onto the 3' side of the floor due to material availability. As a result, the sliding drawer of Step 5 for our coop slides along the shorter side of the coop.This is encouraged for coops with dimensions exceeding 3'x2'.
The outer beams used were 32" in length to insure space for the structural beams.
Once the floor completed, we stapled hardware wire onto the structure.
B. Structural Beams
Two 4' long 2x4s, and two 3' long 2x4s were used. The angles were cut using a circular saw.
The floor was raised 1.5' off the ground to both minimize moisture absorption and inhibit predators from burrowing their way into the coop and scaring our little friends.
** Save the scraps! They will be used later.
Add braces on the sides opposite to that from which the drawer will slide.
** Save the scraps! They will be used later.
D. Wall Studs
The wall studs were fixed to the floor using an L-bracket and a scrap triangular-shaped piece from step 1B.
E. Ceiling Joists
The joists were visually cut to size.
We nailed trimmings over the hardware cloth to minimize areas in which feathers (and other gross things) would get caught.
Step 2: ROOST
This step was undertaken at the very end of our coop build (we had not yet found the needed pieces).
Each hen needs approximately 10" of roosting space.
To house up to 4 medium breed hens, we needed 2 roosts. We used a wooden closet rod. The rod was cut in half, and the ends were cut at angles to fit snug at the intersection of the walls and the rods themselves. Triangular pieces from cuts undertaken for the structural beams (step 1B), and the braces (step 1C) served as supports at the intersection of the walls and at the intersection of the roosts at the wall stud.
This setup is recommended for larger coops that need to accommodate more than two hens.
Step 3: WALLS
A. Wall Supports
We used four 2x4s for this step, two of which measured 26.5", and two 14", both cut at an angle.
The dimensions of the pieces we found for the walls were smaller than what we needed. To deal with this issue, we added trimmings as needed to seal unwanted openings.
Our coop was built with two hinged doors: one, shown in blue in the pictorial guide, and the other shown in brown, opposite to the nesting boxes. The vents (approximately 6"x12") were cut out later using a miter saw (you should do it before installing the walls, trust us). We placed the vent openings on opposing sides of the structure to give a pathway to natural breezes through the coop (cross-ventilation). The vents were also placed as high up the wall as possible, since warm air, which is lighter than cool air, rises and flows out of the vent near the roof, while fresh air fills in from the lowest point of the coop. This effect can be enhanced during hot seasons by removing the sliding drawer (Step 5).
Finally, we added latches on the doors to protect the hens against predators. Since the walls we found were about 3/8", we secured latches by holding up a thicker piece of wood (small pieces of 2x4s, 2x2s...) behind the door at the desired latch location and screwing in the latches through the wall, into the thicker piece.
**Think about positioning the doors based on your accessibility to the coop.
** Don't forget to add doorknobs to the doors!
The roof was nailed onto the structure after the walls were put in place.
Step 4: NESTING BOXES
We used the dimensions recommended in the pictorial guide to build the structure of the nesting boxes.
The nesting boxes were meant to be accessed by children. For that reason, we hinged the front panel. We then added latches on both sides of the panel for security.
We used some more of our scraps to rigidly secure the nesting boxes onto the coop.
Step 5: DRAWER SYSTEM
For our drawer system, we decided it would be easier to have two drawers, since one large one would have been too heavy. Consider doing the same if the materials you find are too heavy.
The support was made using two 45" long 2x4s, and three 32" long 2x4s. They were fixed about 1" under the floor. The middle piece was fixed horizontally onto the larger two beams. All other beams were fixed with the wide side facing the vertical.
Each of the two drawers was made to be ~1/4" smaller in width than half of the drawer supporting structure (step 5A).
We also decided to omit one of the beams represented in grey in the pictorial guide, to maximize ease of maintenance.
The drawers were covered with a metallic sheet to prevent the rotting of the wood. Any water resistant sheet could have been used.
** Don't forget to add handles!
Step 6: DRAWER-COOP ASSEMBLY
Assemble it all, add shingles on the roof and nesting boxes, and paint paint paint!
Now reward yourself with some fresh eggs