We are on our way to a finished chicken coop thanks to some serious planning and one huge Menards trip. Paul and I like to joke that Friday night is date night at Menards, the place of serious romance.
All joking aside, going in to Menards with a plan is what saved our heads on renovating and building this coop ourselves. I started by mapping out how I wanted the coop to look on the inside by using SketchUp Make. The plan went through a lot of changes as I did more research. But below you can see how everything shook out.
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So Paul took this plan and then went at it with an 4'x8' piece of plywood. From there I assembled the pieces with 1 and 5/8" screws and a cordless screwdriver. We started with the back piece first (the largest piece) and screwed in the four angled walls. Then we screwed on the bottom, then the roof, and finally the front 4" tall front piece. We marked everything out first with a pencil using a tape measurer. I found it extremely helpful to mark both the center point for the screw as well as both the right and left side of the placement of each piece. Be sure to not use plywood any less thick than 5/8" otherwise you will split the wood when you screw into it!
Next up is getting the interior of the coop insulated. It gets cold here in WI! Paul did some measuring between the studs and found that 32" wide insulation would fit best. We plan on insulating the roof and walls for the hens to keep things warm from November to April. At the moment we are considering if we want to insulate the floor, but my vote is no. With 6" of sand, things will be insulated enough I think. Below you can see Paul laying out the insulation to measure and cut it. Then he finished off one wall with the plywood to seal everything up.
Once the insulation was up we put in 3/4" plywood and painted it white with a low VOC exterior grade paint.
[EDIT: It's been two years and we've had NO issues with the chickens eating the paint or it peeling. We also can CLEAN the walls when there are poop explosions (which there are), cleaning and scrubbing would have been impossible had we not painted.]
Once the paint was dry, we put done the cheapest linoleum we could find and sealed it with an exterior grade waterproof caulk. The linoleum flooring is a must to keep the floor washable. We can't have a bare earth floor where the coop sits because we are on a flood plain and everything would be sopping wet.
We also installed a south facing window so the girls will get ample sunlight even if they are cooped up (hah) during the winter months. South facing windows are wonderful for solar gain during the cooler months of the year.
Next, we built our roosts. Honestly, we winged this design and used what we had on hand. This ended up being three 1" thick wooden dowels and a few 2x4"s. This roost design gives 12 hens enough room to comfortable roost every night.
The nesting boxes were installed next. We used these cheap wooden curtain rod holders and a spare wooden dowel for the girls to jump up to lay. Finally, we spread the sand out on the floor.
At this point the girls were old enough to be re-homed from their brooder to the newly built coop! We kept the girls in the coop for five days so that their sense of "home" was reset.
Of course, in usual chicken fashion, the girls found the strangest spot to sit and relax!
We love this coop and it keeps our hens warm in the cold Wisconsin winters. Aside from switching to deep litter instead of sand, we wouldn't change a thing!
Thanks for stopping by Green Willow Homestead! From chicken rearing to orchard planting, we've got our hands full and we love sharing what we've learned along the way. Follow along as we strive to live sustainably and turn these five acres from just property to a fully functioning small-scale homestead.
1. Joe Salatin
2. Rachel Carson
3. Wendell Berry
4. Temple Grandin
5. Sustainable Dish
6. Zero Waste Home
7. Allan Savory
Favorite Books of 2018
2. Bringing it to the Table
3. Holistic Management
4. The Small Scale Poultry Flock
5. In The Company of Women