Friday, May 4

Building a Chicken Coop


Shed turned into coop & scratch yard built (near my garden)
We decided when we purchased our small farm last August that we were going to raise chickens and have our own fresh eggs. We purchased 2 day old baby chicks in February from a local Amish farmer.

I had planned to use an old shed we call the “mail pouch” barn for the chicken coop, but after further inspection I realized it just needed too much work to keep the hens safe from predators.

Restoring this barn will have to wait.  Maybe I'll turn it into a camping cabin, smoke house or use it as a sugaring shack for making maple syrup.
Instead, I decided to divide my gardening shed in half by building an interior wall. One side would be for my gardening supplies, and the other a chicken coop.
We had electric installed (thanks to my nephew Sammie) then started construction.



Left side for garden tools, right side for coop (getting a new roof)

We salvaged wood planks from an old barn earlier this year, so I used those to build the interior dividing wall, along with an old barn door for the interior coop door. A few of the old wood planks were slightly warped, but thanks to our friend Chad, who stopped over just as the wall construction started that Saturday, we were able to get the planks up straight.  Chad has earned his super hero nick name of Board Bender !!

Inside dividing wall built with salvage barn wood & door

Once the shed dividing wall and door were in place, I started on the inside of the chicken coop.
For nesting box ideas I searched the Internet. Wood nesting boxes seemed the most appealing to me, but I decided to use what I had on hand: plastic milk crates.


The first step was to build a frame to hold the crates. I decided to make 10 nesting boxes, 2 rows of 5, with a potential to add an additional 5 nesting boxes.
The nesting box frame I built from more of the salvage barn wood, then used drywall screws to secure the frame to the coop wall.
I used a recip saw to cut out one side of each crate, leaving about a 2 to 3 inch lip to hold in the straw (and eggs!) I then secured the crates to the frame.

Now I needed to build a  scratch yard.
I used 6 x 6 pressure treated posts for the foundation, slightly burying them in the hopes of keeping digging animals OUT!

Predators I need to watch out for around here (central Ohio)include coyotes, raccoons, foxes, birds of prey, opossums, skunks, rodents, and snakes.

Domestic animals, such as dogs and cats, can also be predators of my chickens!

My husband Bill helped to construct a frame and door using 2 x 4’s.   We then attached the frame walls to each other, to the foundation and to the coop. I've seen many different size scratch yards, some large some small.  I wanted mine tall enough so I could go inside to clean and rake.



Staying with the paint theme of the shed, I used white exterior enamel paint to paint the frame.  I used heavy galvanized welded wire fencing, with square holes that are approximately 2 inches by 4 inches, to cover the outside of the entire frame. To fasten the fence to the frame, I used galvanized fence staples (their U shaped).


I have seen the coyotes, raccoon and fox roaming around our farm, (a momma fox just had five babies under our neighbor’s shed) so we wanted to make sure the fence would be strong enough to keep out wild animals.

We  finished up the scratch yard by covering the top of the frame. Half is covered with a tin roof to give the chickens shade in the summer and a covered area in bad weather. The other half is wire fencing.



Once the scratch yard was complete, I finished trimming around the small square hole in the side of the coop that is the chicken's entrance and exit door. Again using more of the salvaged barn wood.
The door is on hinges and opens and locks from the inside.  A ramp made with a 1 x 6 board and  using 1 x 1's down the ramp help the chickens enter and exit the coop a little easier.


I built a roost using 1 x 1’s and spacing the rails about 15 to 18 inches apart.
I purchased a stainless steel feeder from our local Tractor Supply store, and to keep the chickens from standing or pooping in the feeder, I decided to hang it from a rafter.
After a few warm days, I found that the coop can get a little humid inside, even though there are 2 windows in the gardening shed side, one window in the coop side and two roof ventilation caps.
I have been saving old wood windows to build a greenhouse, so decided to use one to install a bigger coop window for more air circulation.


First, I held the window up to the wall inside the chicken coop and traced the outline of the window. I used a hole saw kit to cut round holes in each corner of the window traced area.


Cutting holes into each corner makes it much easier to cut the entire area out with a saw.  I used a recip saw to cut out the area needed. I trimmed the window with old barn wood, then used salvaged hinges to hang the window.  If the hinges are placed just right, the window will fold back against the shed and out of the way.  The cost of installing the window was my labor and drywall screws because all the materials were salvaged or from another project.




I finished the window by installing more of the heavy fencing to the inside, so when the window is open, it is secure from predators.

I installed a little hook to hold the window open on nice days, and a larger fastener to lock the window from the inside.

It has been such a joy so far to watch my little baby chicks grow. They get more amazing and beautiful each day!


Don't forget one other important feature.  Chickens love getting a dust bath so make sure to add a dirt area!  You can add a box or tub full of dirt, or do as I did, just throw in a few shovelfuls of old garden dirt.


Do you have chickens or are chickens on your wish list?  What kind do you have or want? Of all the livestock we raise, I think chickens are the easiest.

Elizabeth


Other Posts:

Building a Greenhouse

Goat Birthing

Growing Garlic


14 comments:

Anonymous said...

OMG! These photos should be published along with the story in a bunch of magazines. Love it! Can't beleive all the different kinds of chickens. Love the nesting box.

Anonymous said...

I love how you reused things that were practical. I love the milk crates for nestings boxes, very creative!

Anonymous said...

Elizabeth, you should send this link to Country Woman magazine. I bet they would love to print it. It looks great!

Anonymous said...

Liz, this is really fun to read. Love the milk crates! Ready for Martha Stewart? Would look great in her magazine!
Sis Beverly

Elizabeth said...

Thanks so much everyone for the kind words and encouragement!

Kim said...

Hi Elizabeth! Congrats on the new chicken coop! It looks great and I too love how you've recycled many things. Aren't Chickens so much fun? I can't wait until we have our Hens. Hopefully this summer! Great photos as always and a Happy Belated Mother's Day to you. :) I hope it was a great one!

Elizabeth said...

Thanks Kim, and yes chickens are wonderful!

beth barkley Pietlicki said...

What a lovely coop and your birds are beautiful. I too loved the nesting boxes. What a wonderful home for your chickies.

Elizabeth said...

Beth: Thanks, the chickens seem to like their coop and scratch yard. I also let them roam outside the fenced area when I'm working in the yard or garden. They are great at keeping the bug population down

Anonymous said...

Wow, this article is great, my sister is trying to figure out how to build a chicken coop, so I'm sending her a link to this post.

Elizabeth Ohiothoughts said...

Hope this post helps. A chicken coop can be made from anything as long as the chickens are safe from predators.

Ricki @ The Questionable Homesteader said...

Great post, I love how you used all reusable materials to keep the costs down. I especially like the milk crates as you can often pick them up for free in my area, and they are so useful.
I don't currently have chickens, but they are on my wish list for someday.
Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Ricki! Hope you are able to get chickens, their lots of fun and you get fresh eggs. Elizabeth

Anonymous said...

I am continually looking online for ideas that can assist me.
Thx!