Sunday, August 1, 2010

Building a Portable Chicken Coop

Before we got our chickens, I looked at literally HUNDREDS of coop designs and photos online.  There's such a variety!

I thought that I would probably wait to get chickens until I had a chance to repair and rebuild the dilapidated old chicken house that was here on the property when we moved in.  After all, it's very large and spacious with an excellent design and great location.  Unfortunately, it also needs some foundation repair and is covered in peeling clapboards that I suspect to be coated in old lead-based paint.

So obviously, fixing up that chicken house is going to be a good-sized project.  NOT one we could undertake when, last weekend, we decided on the spur of the moment that we needed to buy the gorgeous blue Orpington chickens we saw offered for sale on Craig's list.

The day we saw the chickens, we told the lady we'd be back in one week to buy them.  Then we rushed home and started building a pen.

It needed to be simple, cheap, and light enough to be portable, so that I could drag it to a new location every day myself.  Here's what we came up with:

Ken, planning the coop design.
Getting started
Ken doesn't have very advanced carpentry skills, so he compensates by using angle brackets.  Lots and lots of angle brackets.  Whatever works is fine with me!  I'm just grateful he's willing to build it.
The skeleton of the coop comes together.
Adding the chicken wire.  As you can see, Ken has lots of helpers supervising everything he does.
Adding the plywood walls.  To keep the coop as light and portable as possible, we used very thin plywood.  Because 1/4" plywood is not very strong, we included chicken wire on all sides, even the sides that have the plywood.
I added two coats of paint.  Now I think it looks like a big white chicken Winnebago!
The back "window" is where the nest boxes will go, so we can collect eggs from the outside.
Sterling the cat decided to run under the wet paint and got a stripe down his back, exactly like in a Pepé Le Pew cartoon.
The coop, now with feeder, waterer, roost and door (but no door latches yet) is inspected by our Quality Control Dog.

The coop now has chickens in it.  Everyone is fascinated!
The sheep are deeply suspicious that SOMEBODY has food in there!  Fortunately, the door does have latches on it now.


HancoxHomestead said...

Thanks for sharing, the coop turned out great! I can see why you wanted those hens they are lovely looking. I get my chicks in 8 days and have to rebuild a chick coop in the main one to keep the flock seperated. Enjoy your new chicks! Helen

Loafkeeper said...

When we built our portable pens, we also used thin plywood and chicken wire (well, hardware cloth) all around. After 2 years, some of the plywood started to separate, even though it was painted. It didn't take much effort from one of the sheep to tear a piece off at that point in a fit of curiosity, and I was sure glad I had decided to put the wire behind the plywood!

Nancy Chase said...

Yes, the sheep were also the reason we decided to go with a 4' high chicken pen instead of a 2' high one. At 2' high, we'd have lambs dancing on the roof all summer, and I know the roof wouldn't stand up to that kind of abuse!

Anonymous said...

Beautiful birds. The coop is looking good -- but you may want to put something like hardware cloth over it; chicken wire is not enough to keep the bad guys out. Raccoons can reach right in through the chicken wire without any trouble. Weasels go right through chicken wire as if it was not even there. And either can easily dig underneath the coop. Think in terms of Fort Knox! I hate to think of how many things we tried before we stopped losing chickens.