I spent a good bit of time scouring the internet in search of a plan for simple, cheap chicken coops. Not because there was anything wrong with the coop I already had (other than, if you become a chicken addict, your coop is never big enough), but because I needed a way to keep small groups of birds separate from the main flock for various reasons. It turns out that the answer was in the first place I looked, but somehow I didn’t see it.
I joined backyardchickens.com back in 2010, when I was still in the “trying to convince The Husband that chickens are not Evil Incarnate, and in fact might be a good thing for us” phase. There are tons of design ideas to be found there, from small chicken tractors to large coops, homemade incubators, brooders and even ingenious DIY feeders and waterers. The best part is that they are all made freely available by members.
The design that I finally fixed on, and the excellent instructions to go with it can be found here.
I, of course, did not remember to take the camera out to the shop, but The Husband and I were able to knock two of these coops out in a day. Even with two little girls “helping”. Materials were a bit higher than listed in the tutorial (which was written about 3 years ago), but still very reasonable. There was virtually no building material left over, so it is a very efficient design.
The Husband could not live with the way the sides of the roof were originally designed, so he ripped down some boards to fill in the space and support the roof. And then nothing would do but he had to use trim over them so that the roofs would be finished. Since he had that stuff laying around from past projects, I humored him. And really, it does look much nicer that way.
I do want to point out that since we actually do have predators around, and these coops were not going into a protected chicken yard, we used 2×4 welded wire rather than chicken wire. Chicken wire keeps chickens in, but does not keep anything that likes to eat chickens, out. That is an unfortunate piece of information to find out the hard way, so consider this my PSA to all aspiring chicken-keepers.
So far, I’ve used these coops to contain a group of roosters who were going to live elsewhere, and as breeding coops for my blue-egg layers. I plan to use them for broody hens and to grow out chicks from the incubator too. They are almost light enough that I can slide them along the ground by myself, but that’s not something I would choose to do with birds inside.