Time to join the chicken bandwagon: Part 2 - Designing the Coop

Skipping the box stores

There seem to be a lot of great sales on coops via the big box stores. But it seems that you get what you pay for. Reviews aren't too kind about the quality of the wood and construction.

Being the daughter, granddaughter, great-granddaughter (twice over), and sister of carpenters and craftsmen I feel determined to design and build our own. Besides, I'm kinda picky. The husband nods :-).

Pinterest and the vast universe of helpful, creative people

A marathon session of pinning has lead me to some beautiful coops, helpful tips, and a belief that humans are amazingly creative and willing to share ideas to advance our civilization.

Now that I have pinned the entire universe of chickenland. I've got a few key resources that are most useful in selecting a coop.

I'm putting them here for others, but mostly I'm sharing them here so I can remember!  More importantly, I'm summarizing them here for my darling co-designer-builder-husband instead of making him troll my pinterest list to see what the heck crazy idea I was talking about.

Granddaddy of all Chicken Checklists

My head stopped spinning and finally cleared when I read this super simple and informative checklist. It covers everything I needed to know in selecting a coop.

The list enabled me to decide
(1) the chicken coop will also have a run and
(2) the design should center around the deep litter method.


Design Features for Easier Cleaning and Caretaking

With that checklist in mind I looked at coops with these features:
Back doors open completely for cleaning, watering, and feeding

No baseplate on the floor that will serve as access to scoop litter

Marmoleum (natural alternative to linoleum) "bath tub" floor for hosing down
Hinged door on to allow removal of entire nest box for cleaning
(and nest box lid should also open to just reach in to get eggs.
Removable nest box liners from dish tubs

Dutch doors can provide access for providing food and water without full entry

Walk-in Run. I do not want to stoop!!
Hen house elevated for safety and for ease of reaching in to feed and water.
 Did I mention I do not want to stoop??!
Another way to enclose a walk-in run

Ventilation Methods (hardwire cloth over openings)

Window flaps hinged on the bottom held by chain

Window flaps hinged on top held open by wood bar

Another way of holding open the window flaps hinged at the top

Shutters that open and close

Cutouts with no coverings

Illustrated Building Guides

Backyard Chickens has a ton of different types of coops listed with varying degrees of specific plans. Among the categories included are small coops, tractors, and watering and feeding systems.

Projects by Trevor provided a wonderful overview of each step in the coop building process on his blog. The photos and instructions cover the basic designs that will apply to most coops. See all the steps: Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5.

4' x 8' Coop built by Trevor. I love all the design details.
Country Acres also has an photo illustrated guide to building the design below:
4' x 6' Coop plus run (Coop is 4' x 4') from Country Ares

Trictle also provides illustration and design guidelines:

Trictle's 4' x 4' design and plans

Free Complete Plans for Lean-to Coops

The amazing Ana White site has provided, as always, free plans for a couple of chicken coop designs that her design colleague Whitney built in 30 hours!:

Free plans for this 4' x 8' coop

Free plans for the run to go with it
(though the run would need to be taller for walk in access)
Very similar free plans for lean-to coops are available from the How to Specialist and My Outdoor Plans,

Complete plans from How to Specialist
Complete plans from My Outdoor Plans

Complete Plans to Order

For $34.95 you can order a set of downloadable plans for this 4' x 4' or the plan for the 4' x 8' coop that includes 37 pages of step by step instructions, detailed materials list, color coded images and pictures.
4' x 4'' coop with run
Back view of 4' x 4' coop shows door opens for complete access

4' x 8' Coop

4' x 8' Coop with run

Free Plans for Emergency Coop

And if you bought your impulse chickens and couldn't finish a coop quickly enough, this coop with nests in the roof can be built in a matter of hours for a hundred bucks using the Ana White site free plans.  I do wonder about the ventilation though.

Free plans from Ana White to build quickly and cheaply

Nice Touches to Consider

Beautiful pergola

Love the color and the white picket fence
Exterior Lanterns

Time to join the chicken bandwagon: Part 1 - Finding Chickens

Pent up longing for spring

I don't know if it is the fact that the sun finally came out or that the snow has finally gone, but I am obsessed with getting into the garden and adding some chickens and rabbits to our urban farm.

Yes, I'm on the verge of a impulse chicken purchase. And my kids are excited with me. My darling husband, who is used to my crazy escapades, is lovingly joining in our efforts. This is fantastic given that he has the engineering mind to build my vision of a chicken paradise.


We're allowed 5 hens here in the city so here are the ones we are hoping to find:
  • Buff Orpington because of the honey color and their sweet personality (daughter's pick)
  • Dominque because it looks like a Zebra (son's pick)
  • Lavender Orpington because it's purple and Orpington's are so sweet (me)
  • 2 Easter Eggers because we get colored eggs and hopefully they each lay a different color (all of us)
The challenge now is to find someplace that 
  • has all of them 
  • can send them all at the same time 
  • can sell in small quantities.
Chicks need to be mailed in a minimum quantity to make sure they keep each other warm in transit. I've found places that will ship to us in minimums of 5 for this time in spring and the distance they have to travel. But some places require 16 to 25 to 30!

The chicks are cheap  (except my $35 rare purple girl) so I could order several of one kind at a time and find new owners for the extras in advance.

But dang, chicken shipping is expensive! You want to only mail order these ladies once!

So far it looks like our grouping would be available in 3 months :-( but I suppose that gives us enough time to build a coop, eh?

Lavender Orpington from www.meyerhatchery.com

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...