We remodeled an old granary into a chicken coop nearly three years ago. To be honest, there’s not much that we would change or do differently. It has happily housed so many of our egg-laying friends that I thought I’d show you what we did, why we did it, and what we changed.
First, a ton of credit to BackYard Chickens, the website from which we gleaned hundreds of ideas and building plans. I can’t recommend them enough.
The Chicken Coop
The coop started out as a small 9×7′ granary. We re-tinned the roof and made plenty of windows and vents for adequate air flow.
Because Minnesota winters can have -40 degrees Fahrenheit windchill, we insulated it and used vapor barrier for added moisture protection.
We decided to use the deep litter method which means we cover the floor with wood chips. The poop and urine that do get on the floor is soaked into the chips. As the chickens scratch through the wood chips, they stir it up. This means we clean the coop out fully only twice a year — in the spring and in the fall.
At the same time we made two parallel roosting boards (with rounded edges to be easier on their feet) across the width of the coop. We also put a sheet of plywood underneath. Chickens usually ‘go’ when roosting, so this eliminates how much goes onto the floor. Every night we scrape the droppings off the board and throw them in the compost pile.
Initially we built a rollaway community nesting box directly underneath the resting boards, but the hens ended up laying eggs in corners and all over the floor. Since then we’ve build the ‘normal’ nesting boxes: 12×12 squares. And as you can see, these pictures were taken after then hens had been in the coop awhile. 😉
You can also see our feeder system (the white PVC pipes) in an above picture. These are filled via gravity as the hens eat.
This water stand is made of two 5-gallon buckets with waterer nipples on the bottom. There is a platform elevating the hens so that no matter how high the litter gets, they can reach the water comfortably. In the winter, we plug in two bird bath heaters and place them in the buckets to prevent the water from freezing.
The chicken nipples are an idea shared by BYC that I love. The water doesn’t drip, it stays clean, and if we’re gone for several days the water will last for at least a week (we add apple cider vinegar). When we’re home, we clean them out and give the chickens fresh water every few days.
Finally, we added a small lean-to on the side so the hens can go outside even in winter. This helps block snow drifts right in front of their little door, and they can still come out for fresh air and sunshine when they get cabin fever.
I hope this gives you ideas for your chicken coop project. 😉 You can see more pictures of our coop at Whole Intentions.
Tell us about your chicken coop! Feel free to share links or tips in the comments.
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I love to see what other people do for their coops! And yours is so charming!
We have about 2 dozen(ish) chickens but the flock continues to grow: 3 lavender orpingtons, 7 Rhode Island Red hens, 7 Buff Orpingtons, and 8 baby American Bresse. Except for the RIRs I have a rooster each ~ as far as the baby Bresse it looks like we have 4-5 little roos. Because of that, and the fact that I’d like for my flock to breed true (for the most part), we’ve separated everyone out. Ssssoooo I have two coops, and my husband is currently building me a third. As we speak. :O I have two models that aren’t walk-ins. One opens from the top for cleaning, while the one my husband and I designed opens from the front. I prefer the latter.
We also use the deep bedding method but with hay because it is cut from our property and is therefore free. So far it has worked very well for us. Each coop has its own fenced yard but for now, the RIRs free range with the lavenders. The buff orps have shown no interest in going beyond their gate. Fine by me.
Since the coops are small, we feed and water outside. It is a little extra effort for me each morning but it is my favorite time of day and gives me a chance to check on and interact with the birds.
Russ Anthony says
That’s awesome. We just finished our first chicken coop yesterday and used recycled material almost exclusively. Although it’s the girls’ temporary home for now they seem to love it. I can’t wait until the spring to make “Coop 2.0” – you’ve given me a lot of ideas for the permanent home.
Keep up the great work!
Jeff C. says
I built a small coop last year, for the 4 hens my aunt gave me. 4x8x4 with a 2′ peaked roof that’s tin for 1/2 of it and “open” chicken wire for the other half. The “coop” is 3′ deep with off set nesting boxes, for easy access from outside, and a drawer for the floor with a wire mesh for easy cleaning. There is a pack of coyotes near by and possums about, so I keep them closed in at night. I got ahold of an older 8×10 shed that I’ll be turning into a larger coop/rabbit hutch this fall. I’ll be using the smaller coop as my brooding coop, now that I have a rooster and 4 nearly grown chicks my G/F bought this last spring, 2 Barred Rocks and 2 Black Australorps. I just got my water nipples in and will be making the buckets this weekend. Love the feeder you made, I’ll be incorporating that into my coop soon as well.
Great coop! I’ve been thinking about trying our gang with a water bucket using nipples, the raised platform idea could be just the thing – I also love the lean-to 🙂
Chad Alan Fluegge Sr says
We recently just finished the addition on our barn that doubles as a chicken coop and goat shelter. I’ve been scouring the ‘net for ideas on bedding, roosting, nesting, feeding, and watering. I think that I’ve found some perfect solutions. Thanks!
Leslie Davis says
what a nice coop !