How to build a chicken coop in under 3 hours!

Chickens are an easy first step to your own homestead. Chickens can give you eggs or meat and require very little maintenance, as long as you can keep them alive.

Our First Coop

Our first venture into chicken ownership, we were completely green newly transplanted city folk, and decided to find a coop on Facebook marketplace and then go pick it up. The coop was one where we were going to move it around our yard daily so that the chickens would fertilize and help with our whole yard.

This did not work out so well, however. The coop was too heavy for me to easily move around, even after we added new wheels to the bottom of one side. So, we decided to then build a chicken area in our yard and place the heavy coop in there. The coop itself was fine and when we closed and locked the base, the chickens were safe. However, we did not always lock them up and we did let them out during the day to forage.

With two little girls both under 5 we decided to not get a rooster to help protect our flock. Looking back, that was probably a poor decision, as we lost a lot of good hens to raccoons, hawks and other animals.

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Our new plan

After not having chickens for a few months, we realized that we missed them too much! So, my husband went to his new favorite store, Tractor Supply, and brought home 8 chicks and 2 ducks. We raised them through the colder months with a heat-lamp in our garage and then we finally built them an enclosure that hopefully will last a long time and keep them better protected.

Unfortunately, the two ducks that we got turned out to both be males. They do a pretty decent job protecting the hens and we have problems eating animals we name, so they have a nice forever home now.

Before we let the chicks and ducks out to forage, we decided to enclose one of our chain link pens with chicken wire. We lined the entire inside of the pen with the chicken wire and then ran rolls of across the top as well. We then secured the top pieces together, and the sides to the chain link, with pieces of twisted metal wire.

Now they are hopefully secure.

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The coop

Now that we had a secure area, and the height set at 4 ft, it was time to build our new chicken coop.

We had an old fence panel lying around that was unneeded from another property, so we decided to use the majority of one 6 x 8 panel. You can definitely use other materials, such as 2 x 4s with some corner 1 x 1, but we thought the fence panel would be perfect.

We then sawed the panel into two 4 x 4 foot sections. The remainder was then cut to make the sides.

By using an old fence panel, we were able to secure the sides to 2 x 4s, which greatly helped stability, ease, and cost in our project.

You will need a ramp for the hens to go up into the coop. Once we laid the bottom out (see above) we decided to cut out one section between the two joists as the ramp hole. It may seem small, but the full size hens can easily walk up and go in an entrance hole the width of one fence board.

The actual ramp ended up needing to be slightly longer than the cut out piece, but it just depends how high up you place your coop.

Before adding the roof to the top, we used an old piece of 6 mil plastic liner from some previous concrete work to help make a waterproof top layer. If you do not have any liner, you could use other household items, such as old feedbags, or a tarp to help the hens stay dry.

It is helpful to allow at least 2 inches of overhang on every side so that you can staple gun the tarp to the sides as well. This will help keep the hens even more protected from the elements.

Once we laid the roof on top, we decided to add small blocks to help raise the front up slightly for rain runoff. These blocks were just the small end pieces of a cut up 2 x 4 from other projects.

We then made sure to secure all sides and roof together and tested our joints to make sure they were stable.

To create the nesting box doors, we cut two vertical lines through two boards of the side panel. Once the piece fell out, we secured it to the top with two hinges and found a small locking piece for the bottom. Since the coop was so wide, we decided that two nesting box doors would make things easier. We also have 8 laying hens, with two main laying boxes, so the space was needed. If you have less chicks, then your coop does not need to be so big.

Next, it was time to figure out the ramp.

We tried out different lengths and measured what we thought would be the best angle for the hens. Our board ended up being about 2 feet. Once the board was cut, we used scraps from other projects to make “steps” on the ramp. You can also take one of the fence tops and cut 1/2 inch thick strips. We took these strips and wood glued them to the ramp every 4 inches or so so for us we had 6 strips. The top strip was mounted to overhang on one side that it would hold the ramp in place once mounted through the entrance hole.

With the ramp and coop finished, we were finally ready to bring it out for our hens.

We decided that after having down in their area, that it would be nice to have some small eyelet hooks to hold up the door when we wanted to get eggs or clean it out. We attached the hooks and eyes to one side and they worked great!

We also decided that it would be nice to give our girls some shade and have the coop off the ground the height of a cinder block. So, with a cinder block under each corner, we were finally finished.

Please let us know in the comments below if you have any questions!

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Material List

This list can easily be adapted to include the scrap pieces that you may have lying around. Hens are not picky as long as they are covered, off of the ground and have a safe space to lay their eggs.

  • one 6 x 8 fence panel (if you do not use a panel, you will need comparable 2 x 4s for all sides and corners)
  • one box of exterior wood screws (we used 1 1/2 in)
  • liner fabric, or other waterproof liner
  • four cinder blocks
  • four hinge sets
  • two hook and eyelet sets (we used 1 1/2 in)
  • two locks/latches for doors
  • wood glue
  • saw (we used a circular saw)
  • drill with Phillips head bit
  • staple gun (or small screws)

Steps to build

  • Assemble all materials
  • Cut fence panel board into 4 equal sections (we did 2 x 4 foot sections)
  • Before you assemble: Staple the liner fabric to the roof
  • Before you assemble: Cut out the section for the entrance ramp from the bottom
  • Before you assemble: Cut out the two nesting box doors from one side
  • Attach each door at the top with two hinges.
  • Attach the locks/latches to your doors.
  • Assemble the bottom, front and back together
  • Measure and cut the remaining pieces for the two sides
  • Secure the two smaller sides
  • Attach the roof
  • Staple the excess liner to the inside of the coop.
  • Decide on the angle and length for your ramp
  • Cut the ramp
  • Secure with wood glue (or small screws) the steps onto your ramp

We hope this helped you decide on the structure for your hens!

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