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 airflow 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 lockdown situation for our chickens!
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.
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.
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!
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?