How to Build a Chicken Coop From a Garden Shed

Learn How to Convert a Garden Shed into a Chicken Coop

The day I brought home the first two chicks, I went against all the advice I give to people thinking about getting backyard chickens. We had a farm but had no chicken coop or really any plan to build one. But two chicks followed me home from work at a feed store and the future was changed forever. Not long after, 12 more chicks arrived to keep the first two chicks company. We now had 14 baby chicks growing up in our house but they could not stay there forever. It was very clear that in the near future we were going to need to learn how to build a chicken coop for the farm.

We had two garden sheds in our yard. Downsizing was in order because having two sheds just meant that you saved and held onto twice as much “stuff.” We would use one of the sheds for a chicken coop but first it needed to be emptied and then moved to the barn area.

The first step in converting the shed into a coop happens before the shed even arrives. Level the ground and get materials for elevating the coop off the ground several inches. You can use 6 x 6  timbers or cinder blocks. We opted to go with the treated lumber 6 x 6 timbers to raise the coop up from ground level. There are two main reasons to do this, one is to allow drainage and air flow under the coop and to prohibit rotting. The second reason is to deter chicken predators and pests from chewing into the coop from the ground.

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Inside the coop, we spread a layer of cement and let it cure for a couple of days to dry completely.  This also deterred rodents from chewing into the coop from the ground level.

Once that prep work is complete, it is time to retrofit the shed and turn it into a coop. Here’s a video tour of my coop.

Roosting Bar or Roosting Area

Many people use a 2 x 4 board as the chicken roosting bar. This should be turned so that the 4-inch side is flat for the chickens to perch on and comfortably cover their own feet with their feathers during cold weather.

 

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Nest Boxes

There are many formulas on calculating how many nest boxes for the number of hens in the coop. I will tell you that no matter how many chicken nesting boxes you have, all the hens will wait in line for the same box. Sometimes a few will crowd into one nest area. I recommend having a few nest boxes in the coop but don’t be surprised if one nest box becomes the popular nest.

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Sometimes even the rooster gets in line for the nest box

Windows

Our shed did not have any windows in it. Before we could use it for a coop we added four windows in the back and two windows in the door.  This allowed cross ventilation and daylight to enter the coop.  Since chicken wire will not keep predators out, be sure to securely fasten quarter inch hardware cloth to any windows or ventilation holes you cut into the coop.

Exterior Latches

We added a couple extra latches in addition to the door handle. We have a wooded property and the raccoons are literally everywhere. Raccoons have a lot of dexterity in their paws and can open doors and latches.  So we have a secure lock down situation for our chickens!

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Box Fan

Hanging a box fan will keep the chickens more comfortable and help with air circulation during the hot humid summer days and nights.  We hang ours from the ceiling pointing toward the back windows.  It makes a big difference! Be sure to keep the fan clean because dust will build up quickly from being used in the coop, which can become a fire hazard.

Droppings Board

The droppings board is one thing that is missing from our coop. We didn’t know about it when we started with chickens and just never added it. But if I was starting over again, I would want this feature.  Basically, the board is installed under the roost bar and is removed to clean the droppings off of it.

Extras

Our coop is not fancy. No frilly curtains, or interior paint. I did paint the one nesting box in a very cute pattern and added lettering that stated Farm Eggs. The girls pooped all over it and decided to peck the lettering off of the top. I still think it would be fun to paint the inside and add some wall art. I’ll add that to this spring’s to do list!

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The “Before” Picture

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Janet Garman is the author of Chickens From Scratch, a guide to raising chickens. You can purchase the book through her website, Timber Creek Farm, or through Amazon.  The book is available in paperback and e-book.

Have you ever learned how to build a chicken coop out of other buildings?

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Comments
  • Kristine B.

    When you first brought the chick’s home, you say they lived in the house with you. How do you do that?

    Reply
    • We use a larger cardboard box, about 18″ or so tall. Cut the flaps off. A heat lamp is needed to keep them warm. We use an old heavy metal base desk lamp with a standard 60w incandescent bulb. It’s important not to have too much heat (too close or too big a bulb) but still have enough. Put papers in bottom of box for easy clean up. Warning: Chickens are the gateway animal!

      Reply
      • Poultry E.

        The comment above about putting papers in the bottom for easy cleanup should be clarified. Newspapers are way too slippery for chicks and they can seriously injure their legs. Use paper towel instead as it is not slippery but is also easy to remove after the first week or so.

        Reply
        • Thank you Poultry Enthusiast for clearing that up. yes we only use newspaper when the chicks have matured quite a bit. The first few weeks should be rubber shelf liner or pine shavings

          Reply
    • used an old playpen! it was great because my daughter could see through the sides and watch the chicks. We put it in the corner of the livingroom where they would be safe from any drafts ect and hung a heat lamp in there as well 🙂 we have done this 3 times and i think its great 🙂

      Reply
  • Poultry E.

    Storage sheds with their shingled roofs get WAY TOO HOT in the summer. Shame on you for not thinking about that.

    Reply
    • To be fair I think adding four windows and a fan pretty much covers that. As the article says the windows were added for cross ventilation. Shame on you for not reading it properly and posting inflammatory remarks to no good end.

      Reply
  • I started my chickens indoors as well. I built a small 5′ x 30″ cage and raised 6 chicks in it for 2 months before the weather got warm enough to move them outside. My chicken coop started out to be a discarded gazebo (the 6 sided ones) but I have since expanded it into 2 additional areas with cattle panels curved over into an arch and covered with hardware cloth and very large heavy duty tarps. The original gazebo was 6’x6′ but with the added room, my coop and run is now 26′ x 6′ x 6′ which should be enough for 6 hens. I can’t let them free range where I am living, so I gave them as much space as I could. I have lots of overhead trees, and in the summer when it gets to 100 degrees, I have a misting system to keep them cool. The area where the nesting boxes and roosting bar is completely enclosed for the mild winters we have here. I got my chicks at the end of March and have now been getting eggs for the last 3 weeks. It is so amazing to go from little tiny chicks to full blown adults in such a short time. But I will definitely do it again.

    Reply
  • Hi! We are looking into doing something like this. I’m curious about the concrete. It says you raised the floor using 6×6 timbers and then put a layer of concrete. My question is what is your flooring made, how much concrete did you use and how did you support the weight, meaning spacing of the timbers underneath? Thanks for the advice and the great article!

    Reply
  • Hy, Loved your article. My question is about skunks.
    Do you know how to ask them to leave?
    One just showed up last night, sprayed in our direction when we opened the nesting boxes to remove the eggs. He go to keep the eggs and the house.
    Worried about my girls.
    Thanks for any and all help.
    Ellie

    Reply

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