The Chicken Coop is finally done and Mary and Nate have officially moved in (Ed got bullied and won’t be moving in until he feels better). This was such a fun project to work on, and I am so glad we were given the opportunity to build something so fun for the kids (and chickens).
Design and Planning
When taking on this project I didn’t know the first thing about building chicken coops. After some research I came up with a design (see Designing a Chicken Coop), but quickly realized that I didn’t know where to begin for constructing this thing. I continued to research and ended up building the chicken coop as a mini shed.
Since I love drawing in Google SketchUp, I decided to draw the frame out in detail so I knew exactly what I was doing. We had several 2x4s leftover from other projects, and daycare had a bunch of 4x4s that were donated, so we made use of the material available for building the frame. Once the drawing was complete, I was able to determine cut lengths from my drawing, and we were able to precut the frame pieces.
Let the Construction Begin
With most of our framing material precut, the first construction phase was pretty straight forward. With high winds and kids running wild, we chose to cement the coop for added rigidity. To do this, we cut the posts to the rough dimensions, then leveled the frame itself. Once the cement was set, we used the Sawzall to trim the posts below floor board height.
With the frame built it was time for siding, a chicken run, and a roof.
The details are what make a project like this come to life. With construction mostly done, it was time to add the trim. My dad had some old cedar fence panels laying around, so we were able to rip the panels down to the appropriate width and use them for the trim (we were also able to use my dad to help finish this part which I was so thankful for since time was running out). Although paint colors were still a choice to be made, the entire structure needed to be primed before color could be added, so my husband began the priming process as the trim was being finished. Having a mobile workshop was extremely helpful for this part of the process (see The Traveling Shop).
It was important that the chicken coop looked fun since it was ultimately for the kids. I chose 5 colors that were bright and worked well together, and then spent hours deciding which color should go where. I tore the paint swatches into several tiny pieces and I am pretty sure I drove my parents nuts trying to get 2nd opinions on my choices.
To seal the wood properly from weathering and chicken smells, we painted the inside of the coop as well as the outside. Since we had our fun colors leftover, we chose to paint the inside these colors also.
We stretched chicken wire on all sides of the run, the gate, and the viewing window. To help prevent unwanted guests, we chose to line the bottom of the run with chicken wire as well, which we then covered with sand. I am sure there is an art to cutting and stretching chicken wire, but having never worked with it, we certainly did not have it. Chicken wire is very sharp and since it comes in a roll, it is a natural spring, making a hazardous scenario (moral of the story is to be careful). Although most of the run is free from sharp edges, we will be adding protector strips over the cut ends this week to prevent possible injuries to the kids.
After finishing the coop, we added shade screen on the far end of the chicken run so the chickens can escape the heat of the day. We also added an emergency pull string to the chicken run latch so the latch can be released from the inside (just in case the door closes while someone is inside). As winter approaches, we may add shutters to the viewing window, and we will be adding a weather strip to the step that opens to prevent water seepage into the nests.
I am so happy with how the chicken coop came out, and when I saw my daughter playing in it (pre-chickens), I realized how cute of a playhouse this would make (future project?). With the chickens all moved in, when I stopped by daycare today to see them, my daughter’s class was playing in the garden. The chicken coop steps were lined with kids trying to look in the window at the chickens, just as I had imagined them doing in the design process. So far it seems as though the children love the chicken coop, and I think the chickens like it too.
Do you have any chicken coop experiences to share? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section below.