Last year we decided to get baby chickens to raise for their eggs. They were adorable! This was my first time having chickens and I was completely amazed by how quickly they grew. We actually had them in a spot in the house for a short period of time, but we knew we would need to get to work fast on building a chicken coop for them to live in permanently.
We started off by looking at our local livestock stores to purchase a pre-made coop. They were SO expensive and would only hold a few chickens. We wanted to be able to have between 6 – 12 chickens at any one time. I also checked online, but those coops were expensive as well, and cost a fortune to ship since they were so heavy. I knew we were going to have to DIY a chicken coop. So, I started researching chicken coop plans online. There were some amazing plans but you had to pay for almost all of them.
Finally, we found a good base plan to start with that was free on PurinaMills.com and would work well for the amount of chickens we wanted to keep. The plans are great as is, but for our set up in our backyard and the way we wanted to run our feeder and water, we had to make some adjustments. In the original plans it called for the nesting boxes to be on top of the opening for the chickens to walk in. Also, the back door was set to open down for cleaning, but we thought it would be easier to have it open to the side. And last but not least, we had to add height to the original design.
Note: The original link to the plans no longer works and I was unable to contact Purina Mills to find out where to download the file. So, I am including the .pdf we used for download here. I will continue to try to contact them to provide a proper source and link. Download: Chicken Coop Plan
The plans are great in that they give you exact dimensions and the amount of lumber to buy. However, the plans do not tell at all how to actually assemble the chicken coop. So this we made up as we went along! Please see the original plans for exact lumber needed and supply list.
Tools needed (contains affiliate links):
We started by building the floor of the coop. It is a square structure with support beams that run front to back. To create the square you will cut (2) 2 x 4s at 45″ and (4) 2 at 42″. Use your two long 2 x 4s at the top and bottom, and run the smaller support beams perpendicular to the long boards and evenly space them as you go. This will create a square base. To attach the 2 x 4s together, we simply used deck screws.
Once you have the frame for the floor built, you will need to cut a piece of plywood to size and screw it into the pre-built frame. You will need 3/4″ plywood cut to 45″ x 45″. Use a large straight edge, such as a level to mark your line to cut. You can also use a saw with a laser to make a precise cut.
Screw this plywood to your 2 x 4 base using deck screws. Be certain your frame is square as you go.
You will now want to assemble your uprights. You are attaching one 2 x 4 to another 2 x 4. For these posts you want to use pressure treated lumber as these will be in contact with the ground. To attach them together, you are creating an ‘L’ shape with the boards. One short side of the 2 x 4 will be butted against the long side of the other 2 x 4. Again, use wood screws to attach them together.
We wanted to be able to get underneath the coop easily. So instead of using the measurements of 66″ and 60″ for the front and back supports provided in the .pdf. we cut our boards to 85″ for the front four boards and 80″ for the back four boards, instead. This difference in heights will provide for a downward slope on the roof of the coop.
Once you have all four uprights assembled you can now attach them to your frame. We laid the floor on its side to attach the uprights with screws. You will measure how tall you want your floor to be and mark this on each upright. This will tell you where to attach the floor.
We decided to place four small concrete square paver blocks down underneath each upright. This way the actual wood would not be touching the earth. We live in an area where termites are pretty common and that is the last thing we would want to have happen. It also helped to level out the ground, place the pavers on top and then place the assembled coop on top of the pavers. This way the entire structure was level.
Now, we moved on to building the roof. You will build the platform in the same way you did for the floor. The plywood we purchased was not large enough to cover the entire roof platform in one piece. We split the difference and cut two smaller pieces of plywood to go on either side of the largest piece. This gave us a secure area to be able to screw all the plywood down into as you can see in the pictures below.
After the roof was assembled we added a sheet of corrugated roofing to the top.
There are special washers and screws used to keep this area water tight. The washer has a piece of rubber attached to one side. You will place the rubber side down, toward the corrugated roofing. Make sure to screw in until the washer is flattened.
If you need to use more than one piece of corrugated roofing, be sure to overlap your pieces on the downward side. This will help for the water to roll off the roof.
The hardest part of this entire build was to get the roof on top of the uprights. I am much shorter than my husband so I was on a small ladder. Needless to say, I have no pictures of this process since we didn’t have an extra set of hands.
Once the roof is in place you will use screws to attach it to the uprights. The inner wood slat part of the frame of the roof should be on the outside of the upright.
Once again, check to be sure everything is still level as your uprights can shift as you are placing on the roof.
Now it is time to attach the sides. The front of the coop will have a small opening (12″ x 12″) for the chickens to be able to enter the coop. Cut this before you attach the front using a jigsaw.
We attached the front plywood, and then the smaller piece for the back of the coop that would be above the swinging door. This door gives you access to the coop to be able to clean it.
You need ventilation for your chickens. The great thing about this design is that the 2 x 4’s in the roof provide a small gap between the top of the wall and the roof. This allows some air flow without letting out too much heat in the colder months.
Next, we added the two smaller plywood pieces to the back of the coop. Measure and add your hinges. We added two hinges to the left side. The original design called for this door to swing down. We decided it would work better to have the door swing to the side. Once we attached the plywood “door” to the hinges, we also added a sliding lock to the right side to keep it closed.
We then added the plywood to the side of the coop without the nesting box. You will simply screw this piece into the uprights and the floor frame on the right side.
We next installed the roosts. These are large dowel rods attached to a 2 x 4 that you install at an angle. I decided since these would probably need occasional cleaning that I wanted them to be removable. So instead of screwing the dowel rods directly into the wood, we added closet rod supports. This way, we can remove the dowel rods to scrub them off.
Now it was time to build and assemble the nesting boxes. You will start by attaching the two sides to the bottom longer piece. To attach the front piece of the box we used our nail gun as it was so much faster and was not going to be supporting any weight. To attach the sides to bottom, we used screws.
We cut the side piece to fit the frame. We then cut out an opening for the nesting box. We placed the nesting box fairly low. This way it is easier for the chickens to get in and out but also I was able to open the box and look inside without getting a step stool! There is a small lip between the nesting box and the actual coop which helps to keep the nesting boxes a little cleaner. It also helps to keep your nesting materials separate from the bedding material.
You will add a 2 x 4 support beam underneath the nesting box before it is installed. This serves two purposes. It will help you place your nesting box in the proper spot and keep it level, and it will also help to support the weight of the chickens in the box. Simply screw the 2 x 4 into the plywood wall.
We added 2 dividers in the nesting box to create three separate spaces. The rule of thumb is to have 1 nesting box for every 4 chickens. I have found this to be pretty true. We have 7 chickens and they only lay in two of the boxes most of the time!
We simply brad nailed the dividers in place. Now you will install your nesting box onto your chicken coop. My husband brad nailed the nesting boxes onto the plywood wall through the inside of the chicken coop. I don’t have any pictures of this because I was holding the box up while he did the nailing.
For the lid of the nesting box you will have to do a 45 degree miter cut on the edge that will placed against the side of the coop before you attach it with your hinges. This will allow the lid to be opened easily. We used two hinges on the inside to attach the lid of the nesting box.
Next, I will be sharing with you how we assembled a large run for the chickens and made it completely enclosed. Stay tuned for How to Build a Chicken Coop: Part 2.