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.
- Build out of found materials. All salvaged from past projects.
- Custom design. Simple and priced around $40.
Step 1: 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 pole were all they really needed and on most nights the door was left open. Predators weren't a concern.
Step 2: Redesigned Coop: Overview
The goal for this design was to create a lighter, easier to clean coop that and provided more space. It was also easier to build than the initial bulky coop.
- A-frame structure
- Horizontal connections
Step 3: Tools and Materials
Here are the suggested tools and materials for building your next coop.
- Four foot level
- Pry Bar
- Circular Saw & 'Japanese Style' Handsaw
- Drill & Drill Bits *I recommend corded drills unless you specifically need cordless
- Screw Drivers
- Tape Measure
- Extension Cord
- Speed Square
- Staple gun + Staples
- Paint Brush (not shown)
- Safety: Goggles/Ear Protection
- (12) 2x4s
- (1) sheet of 5/8" plywood
- 3" Screws and/or Nails (see note below)
- 50' roll of chicken wire
- Paint *optional
*always use untreated material and avoid painter surfaces that the birds may peck
Quantity: For this project I used (10) 2x4s, (3) 2x6s, (3) 2x2s, (2) 4x8 3/8" OSB, (1) box drywall screws, (1) box 3" wood screws, (<1) quart paint.
Cost: All materials cost around $80 from HD/Lowes/Habitat. All tools cost under $120. Amazon links provided to the tools I would buy today.
Fasteners: I recommend using all screws for the project. In the past I used primarily nails but always required a few screws. Depending on the boards used for the siding you may need to pre-drill and use smaller screws.
Step 4: 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 5: 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 6: 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 7: 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 8: 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 9: Good Luck + Cold Weather Notes
If you have any questions I can provide feedback that will make you feel more confident that you can raise backyard chickens.
UPDATE - In 2017 we moved to MN. I was ready for chickens but concerned about climate. Backyard Chickens Thrive in Winter - is an instructable to help you get comfortable with raising chickens in a cold region. Created May 2018.