My Chicken Coop Project Part 1

A few weeks ago my wife and I picked up 5 chicks, a week later we got 6 more, a few days later we got 4 more.  Two of the chicks died, which left us with a total of 13.  Up until last weekend the chicks had been kept in a large plastic tub, which in turn was being kept in the bathtub.  The chicks can not stay in my house forever, sooner or later they were going to have to go outside.  On Sunday, March 18, 2012 the chicks moved into their new home.

It took about 2 1/2 days, but with the help of my wife and my son, we got the coop built.

Building a chicken house

Before construction of the coop started I probably spent 2 weeks thinking about the specs, how many laying boxes were needed, how large the coop needed to be, how it was going to be designed, square footage per chicken, types of lumber, how the chickens were going to access the coop, coop security,,, just lots of details were thought out.

One of the first things I did was get out on the internet and look at some chicken coop pictures.  There are a lot of different designs out there, that is for sure.  The plan I wanted was for the coop to be portable.  The type of coop I was aiming for is called a “chicken tractor”.  Its a type of coop that can be moved around the yard.  Once I got some pictures, and got some ideas, it was time to start making sketches.

I took several pieces of paper and made rough sketches of how the lumber was going to fit together.

Some of the specs I decided on:

  • Chicken house was going to be 4 feet wide by 6 feet long
  • Treated lumber when possible
  • Closeable trap door with a ladder
  • At least 4 – 5 laying boxes
  • Easy entry into the laying boxes for egg collection
  • Laying boxes would be made out of 1×12 pine lumber
  • Portable enough to move around the yard, or load on a trailer

Designed for hot weather. Here in southeast Texas the daytime temps can 100 degrees in the shade during July and August. Even by May sometimes the temps can reach the upper 80s and into the 90s. During May, June, July, August and even into September you are looking at constant 90 – 100 degree temps during the daytime. Even at night the temps may not get out of the 90s during July and August.

The tall side of the coop was to be 4 feet tall, so that a piece of 4×8 plywood could be used

The coop design I decided on has an open bottom. This is probably not suitable for areas where it really cold. Here in southeast Texas our idea of cold is overnight lows in the 20s.

The chicken coop project was started with 4 – 2x4x8 foot long pressure treated boards that would become the corner post.

The boards were put on a table with the straightest board being on the outside.

A framing square was used to square the ends of the boards, this way all of the measurements can be put on the boards at the same time.

Once the measurements were marked, the framing square was used to extend the measurements across all of the boards.

The hardware cloth that I used was 3 feet tall and 1/2 inch squares.

The board the top of the hardware cloth attaches to was set so that the top of the wire would be in the middle of the board.

6 boards 6 feet long were cut.

6 boards 45 inches long were cut.

The 6 foot long boards fit flush on the outside of the corner post. The 6 foot long post where nailed to the uprights, then stood up.

The 45 inch long boards fit “inside” the corner post.


One mistake that I made was not nailing the 6 foot 2x4s in all three locations – bottom, middle and top before the project got too far along. I should have nailed all 3 6 foot long board sin place, and then stood the walls up.

Maybe I should have gone with 4 foot wide hardware cloth inside the coop instead of 3 foot wide, and use 3 foot tall on the outside. Having an extra foot inside the coop would be nice.

Someone on youtube posted a comment saying that 1/2 inch hardware cloth was too small for the chicken poop to go through. If I used a larger sized square, I fear that snakes would be able to get in.

I am thinking about building another coop exactly like this one, then put them together to form a coop that look like a house. This would provide 10 laying boxes, with 5 boxes on each side of the coop.

The open floor is not good for cold weather. My wife and I were talking about what we were going to do during the winter. My suggestion was, if nothing else, wrap a tarp around the bottom of the coop.

If you are planning on building a chicken coop several months into a long term SHTF / TEOTWAWKI situation, don’t plan on it.  Unless you already have a stockpile of screws, nails, a good hammer, boards, plywood, paint, paint brushes, saws,,,, and everything else that you may need your not going to be able to find those supplies after the hordes have cleaned out the hardware stores.  It took me 2 1/2 days to build this coop with everything I needed being close at hand.  I would hate to try and build the coop with no supplies and no electricity to run the tools.