We originally wanted 8 hens, so I ordered a dozen, figuring, you know. They shipped us 15.
I decided to build the coop and run behind one of our garages, a wee bit back in the woods. The whole ideas of chickens came about because I salvaged a few sections of boat pier from my parents, and I was looking for a reason to use them. The coop started as two pier sections and a chunk of stairs I salvaged. Here, I am beginning to piece together the walls. I had no real plan, just a picture in my head which is how most of my projects start out. While I am no carpenter, I consider myself an “advanced fort builder”.
I picked a spot that required very little clearing, but I did have to cut a few trees down with my trusty 18″ STIHL chainsaw.
The initial platform is set on concrete pads using chunks of 4×4 timbers as legs. These would later be reinforced and stabilized with cross bracing.I began building in late winter, so when we got another round of snow, i went into my shop and built a pair of nesting boxes. At this point I was still anticipating 8 hens would make it to maturity. I primarily used whatever lumber i had laying around. A bunch of damaged sheets of OSB I had picked up at Menard’s for cheap make up the majority of the flat goods. Everything is screwed together as i planned to make a bunch of mistakes and change my mind frequently, and nails don’t serve they process very well. The 2×2 framing for this was actually salvaged 2×8 stock I ripped down on my new table saw that I was itching to play with.Snow melted again, and i got back to cobbling together walls, and mounted the nesting boxes on the back. I used salvage pallet wood where i could, but lumber was on sale at menard’s so i started just buying new studs as needed. There is no real process I used to framing out the walls.. I was just kind of going by what seemed reasonable.The “pads” the legs sit upon were chucks of concrete floor I scrounged from a building that had been torn down in town. Heavy, but cheap! I made no real calculations about the roof pitch.. i just made the front wall about 6′ tall, and the back about 4-1/2′ tall, and guessed my way from there.Building continued through the early spring…. The 2×6 rafters ended up being the most expensive part of the project besides the pickets for the run. All told, the roof worked out to be about 10′ x 10′.
The girls had outgrown the first brooder and were getting big. And we still had all 15 hens…..Somewhere in there was another weekend of cruddy weather, so i built a window for the front that could be opened. This was a scrounged storm window among the pile i have behind the garage, and fit the bill just right once I built a wood frame for it. The frame is more ripped down material, and I created a channel for the window to sit in using the table saw. Once i jockeyed the clamps around it was just squared up and screwed together. Building not just the window but the whole project on my own, I learned the value of a set of good, reliable clamps.Spring was in the air and enough frost was out of the ground that i could start setting poles for the run. Sheathing was also going up on the sides and roof of the coop. The poles a managed to negotiate a price on from the yard manager at the local Home Depot. The ends of these landscape timbers were chewed up, so I managed to get them for a buck a piece. the damaged ends just ended up buried anyway.The front chicken door into the coop and the ramp. The side doors open up so that the coop can be raked out and cleaned without actually having to get into the coop. The window on the front opens, while the one on the side is fixed… another salvaged storm window. All the hinge and lock hardware I managed to get at an auction for $3 for the lot. The ramp is just a chunk of plywood I had laying around that I used some finish nails to attach cross pieces to.The run area is about 16′ x 18′. Cross bracing is all 1×4 material that the wire msh and pickets will be stapled and screwed to.The coop is pretty much buttoned up except for the flooring, and the main door.I had a pile of carsiding I used to construct the main door. The top has a tarp stretched over it until i can round up some steel roofing panels as a permanent solution. The run has also been fully enclosed (except a door). There heavy gauge wire mesh at the bottom (and buried), and chicken wire above and over the entire enclosure.I then took treated wood fence pickets (6″ x 5′) to encompass the entire run. This makes it look nice, and is a view-break so animals walking through the woods don’t have a very good view of the girls, and hopefully don’t get too inquisitive. We have bear, fox, coyote, wolf and other assorted animals to protect against. Everything is very sturdy and somewhat overbuilt with this in mind. Not shown is that the outside of the bottom of the run is now encircled with medium sized rock from the rock quarry at the end of our road. This has done a tremendous job in discouraging digging from the outside.
The “smooth” floor is down, and vent holds cut and covered with wire mesh. The holes were cut so 3″ PVC 90’s (elbows) will fit in them from the outside… this provides continue ventilation during the winter while creating a wind break to avoid drafts.Almost ready for the girls…. roost is in place and it takes 2 bundles of bedding to make a nice thick floor for the girls to work with.
Move in day! And yes… we STILL have all 15! They are still pretty young here as their waddles and combs are just starting to come in.Door for the run is built and in place. Everything has barrel bolt-latches with clips for extra protection. I’m pretty happy how it all came out despite me just shooting from the hip. It still all needs to be painted, roofed, and a few things here and there, but it is almost finished.The girls love the run, and really like the local ferns we pick for them.They are getting bigger every day, and have started providing about a dozen eggs a day. The hanging corncobs are a HUGE hit.Every once in awhile, a few of the girls get to come hang out with me in the shop while i am puttering on other projects.Door to the run with a nice tin sign a co-worker got me for my birthday…I put up some LED lights to make it easier to put the chickens away every night, and to help keep predators at bay. On each corner is a nighthawk strobe, and a motion detector that sounds an alarm in the house if something walks by. Also, the rock is in place along the perimeter.
All in all, a great project. I had purchased a Rigid table saw for myself at Christmas that was an indispensable tool. Along with my miter saw it mad the job go much quicker than trying to use my circular saw as in the past.
All hinges and barrel locks were salvaged material, most of which came from a $3 auction buy.
There are no nails.. I use square drive screws almost exclusively since they tend to “skip” less than Phillips head screws.
The wire fencing is chicken wire up top, with 1/2″ welded wire mesh below and sub-grade.
The lumber was either all pallet salvaged, or construction grade 2×4 and 1x material. Sheet goods are almost all 7/16″ OSB. The pickets for the run are 6″ x 5′ treated, screwed to the runners. Poles are pine landscape timbers sourced from Home Depot. Anything else is a mix-mash of salvaged materials.
The original author of this article is reddit user, Mr-Snarky.