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Discussion Starter · #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.



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
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The coop was going to be 4 feet deep by 6 feet wide.
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 instead of 3 foot wide?

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.
 

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How large is the pen going to be?
13 full grown hens will need more space then that,to crowded and they start pecking each other till they see blood then that bloody spot gets pecked by everyone.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
How large is the pen going to be?
13 full grown hens will need more space then that,to crowded and they start pecking each other till they see blood then that bloody spot gets pecked by everyone.
The coop is 4 feet x 6 feet, 3 feet of the 4 is hardware cloth.

In April I am planning on added the other half of the chicken coop, for a total of around 3 square feet per bird + laying boxes.
 

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We've had chickens for the past 4 years. If you have the space, I would suggest that you might do what we do - let them free range during the day and just pen them inside the coop at night.

Doing this will give you the benefit of not having to clean the coop out NEARLY as often (once a week), buy ALOT less feed (plus they'll keep your bug population WAY down), yet you'll still keep them protected from predators (mostly).
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
After building the coop, I realized I should have gone with 4 foot wide hardware cloth instead of 3 feet wide. I am kicking myself right now for using 3 foot wide, but oh well, it is what it is.

The coop in the first video is only 1/2 of the entire coop. The other side is going to have 4 foot wide hardware cloth. This will give an area 7 feet wide of hardware cloth, then 1 foot on end side for boxes.

If I were to build the coop again, it would have 4 foot hardware cloth for the floor on each side, and 3 foot hardware cloth for the run.

So far my wife and I have around $300 into the coop. All of the 2x4s are treated lumber.

Before its over, we should have around $700 - $750 in the coop. Just the hinges are $4 each, plus the latches. The 1x12 that we lower to access the laying boxes has 3 hinges on it. That is $12 just on hinges for 1 door. The finished coop should have 2 sets of laying boxes and 2 doors, for a total of 6 hinges, at $6 each, so lets say $25 in hinges just for 2 access points. That is not counting the doors and latches to access the main coop section.

A good bit of the cost is not the lumber, but the screws, nails, latches, hinges,,, all the little things you need to make the coop work.

Another idea is to raise the original laying boxes up, put a second set under them so that the laying boxes are all on one side of the coop.

I am seriously thinking about making one side of the coop for perches, and the other side for laying boxes, food, water and a small perch - this is after the other half has been added on.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 · (Edited)
March 24 and 25 another door was added to the coop, the egg collection door was finished, the ladder was finished, and a vent window was added.

The second door was cut 24 inches by 24 inches square. The other door which measures 18 inches wide seemed a little narrow.


The ladder was completed, except for a draw string to raise and lower the ladder from outside the coop.

A vent window was added just below the tin roof. The window measures 24 inches long by 3 1/2 inches wide. 1/2 inch square hardware cloth was used to block off the window so nothing can get through it.

To reinforce the window, a 2x4 was added to the inside of the coop, then 2 inch long screws were used to go through the 1x4s on the outside, through the plywood and into the 2x4.

The hardware cloth is between the 1x4 and the plywood. Several screws go through the 1x4s, through the hardware cloth, plywood and 2x4. There is no way that hardware cloth is going anywhere.

The 1x4 that covers the vent window folds up and fits snug against the tin. To close the window during cold or rainy weather, a 1x4 folds down, then is held closed with a latch.

When the other end of the coop is added, I am going to install another vent window just like this one on the opposite side.

 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Looking good! Hope it's not too expensive. When I did mine I had a budget of $100, needless to say I exceeded that in 10 minutes lol.
I think the ballpark figure right now is around $350.

After the rest is added on, we are probably talking about $750 for the whole coop.

I am thinking about adding a solar powered hotwire around the bottom of the coop, but that will be after everything is finished.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
After talking to my wife this morning, we are going to shoot for easter weekend to build the rest of the coop.

My wife and I will have 3 full days off. When I started the coop I took friday off and was working by myself, 1/2 of saturday was at a grandsons baseball game and then all day sunday.

We will probably buy the lumber thursday before good friday, then start on the rest of the coop the morning of good friday.

If everything goes to plan, I would hope to finish to rest of the coop up saturday evening, which would leave sunday open for small detail work.

Right now the coop measures 4 feet by 6 feet, the other side should measure something like 7 feet by 6 feet - 6 feet wide, 6 feet of hardware cloth and 1 foot for laying boxes.

As of right now I am looking at an overall size of something like 11 feet by 6 feet.
 

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I think the ballpark figure right now is around $350.

After the rest is added on, we are probably talking about $750 for the whole coop.

I am thinking about adding a solar powered hotwire around the bottom of the coop, but that will be after everything is finished.
It is amazing at how costs add up! That's a very neat and attractive coop, though.
 

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How large is the pen going to be?
13 full grown hens will need more space then that,to crowded and they start pecking each other till they see blood then that bloody spot gets pecked by everyone.
I have raised chickens most of my life and the only time I have had trouble with pecking each other is in winter with reduced light conditions...

In winter I run a light 24 hours a day in there building which stops all the pecking and keeps them laying eggs through the winter.

As long as they get enough food they should not peck at each other even in cramped conditions.

I kept 24 full size hens and a rooster in an 18 foot travel trailer that I gutted through the fall winter and spring one year. That was what 150 square feet or so. I never once had a problem.
 
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