I absolutely love the chicken coop hubby built for me. It is efficient and safe, does not waste bedding, has ample air flow while being warm in the winter, and is a breeze to clean. Growing up it was my job to clean my parent’s chicken coop–which was just a converted rabbit hutch–so I had many years to learn exactly what I hated about it. Once I knew I wanted my own chickens, I spent several months thinking about what I wanted in my coop. I drew out the plans, and my ever-handy hubby broke out the tools.
Temperature is a big concern in my area–we routinely get 3-4 weeks in summer where it gets above 105F. Our winters are mild, only occasionally dropping to freezing, so since staying cool is a lot more important that staying warm, I chose a part of our yard which is always in the shade (not hard to do in my yard). The run will be 12’ X 16’.
At the time we didn’t have a fence and were concerned about our chickens getting attacked by stray dogs. We dug a 6” trench all around the perimeter of the run and buried a 2×8” so it was just sticking up enough to attach wire to.
This is the 3’ riser wall. I’m not a big fan of chicken wire (it just rusts way too quickly), so we used vinyl-coated garden fencing. The fourth wall has not been built yet because that is where the coop and door will go. We figured any dogs trying to get into the coop wouldn’t be able to do much damage above 3’, so we built the bottom very strong. All four corners are sunk in concrete. The green tubes are 1” thick PVC tubes which I spray-painted green. They are placed every 4’ (not all are installed in this picture) and have been drilled to the posts–one screw at the bottom and one screw 7” below the top. These will hold the top section of the run.
This is the back wall–it is not structural, it’s just there so we have something to staple the wire to.
The top part of the run is just wire zip-tied to PVC, which I also spray painted green. Several months earlier I saw a DIY plan for a hoop greenhouse, and I thought it would make a great coop. Every four feet (the width of the wire we used) we placed a 20’ long, ¾” PVC pipe inside the 1” PVC pipes attached to the base. That is why we drilled them seven inches down from the top of the pipe-so the smaller pipe would slide in and be stopped by the screw (my hubby is so clever!). The 3′ riser wall, in addition to keeping the chickens safe from predators, also makes the coop tall enough to stand up in without hunching. Just the PVC alone would be very short.
This is the floor of the coop. I wanted it raised up to provide a covered area underneath to put the food and water. You’ll notice it is also covered in linoleum–didn‘t just want bare wood, which is porous, hard to clean and can harbor disease. Also, I didn’t want my chickens to be nesting and coming onto direct contact with the chemicals in pressure-treated wood. I recycled some old linoleum from a remodeling project and glued it in the coop.
Hubby built all the other pieces of the coop modular. He built it this way so he could do most of the work inside his air-conditioned workshop, but this idea turned out to be genius because now it will be easy to take our coop with us to the new house!
The coop is 3’ deep, 4’ wide and 3’ tall. Just big enough for six large-breed chickens. The chicken door is 16X16” and there are two small widows for extra ventilation. Wire was placed on the windows to keep anyone from falling out of the coop at night while perching.
We call this the “poop shelf”. Underneath will be the nesting area–can you see the two little pieces of wood attached to the wall under the shelf? I can slide a 1X4” board between those to create a ‘lip’ to hold the extra bedding in the nest area. This board is easily removed for cleaning the nesting area, and is one of my favorite features of the coop. On top of the poop shelf will be a 2×3” board for perching. The poop shelf will keep the poop from the perching chickens from falling onto the eggs. This same setup is mirrored on the other side of the coop, and another long perch will run from under one window to under the other window (all three perches will make an “H” shape inside the coop). This long perch will be offset towards the chicken door, giving me a solid 72” of perching space inside this otherwise small coop. For large breeds, you want a good 12” of perching space per bird. For smaller bantams, 10” is fine.
This picture was taken from inside the run. The gap at the roof-line is for extra ventilation–hot air rises, and this feature keeps the coop from becoming an oven in the summer. We kept the cut out part of this feature, and in the winter we replace it so the coop stays warmer. You can also see the removable 1X4” board inside the coop, which defines one of the two nesting areas.
The finished coop! I painted it barn-red with white shutters. The shutters work, and I can close them in the winter to keep drafts out. I put down some paving stones under the coop so the water would stay clean–I’ve learned from experience that bugs like to burrow under the water bowl where it’s cool, and the chickens will scratch all over the water to get at the bugs–making their water filthy in the process. Now I only have to change the water once a day, versus the 3-4 times a day I had to change my parent’s out. The door the the chicken’s entrance can also be closed during very cold, windy nights. The ‘person door’ to the run is just to the left of the coop.
Here is the overall finished coop and run. We provided an outside perch, which is just an untreated 2X3”X8’ so they can hang out outside. The main door to the coop is on the outside, so I don’t have to enter the run in order to collect eggs.
My girls exploring their new home at just four weeks old! Hard to believe they were ever that small! The ramp is not pressure treated, so I stuck another paving stone under it to keep it from rotting.
Well, my coop is now two years old and has worked wonderfully. The linoleum has made it so easy to clean, and because there are no porous surfaces, it does not retain any odors, making it a very pleasant place for my girls to go at night. A little Dawn dish detergent, a garden hose, and ten minutes has this coop looking and smelling brand new. I love it so much I’m going to take it with me to my new house!