Chicken Coop Plans and Details


- by Costa

Dear Coop Fanciers,

My apologies for the delays on the plans. I hadn’t actually planned to make specific plans for the Tembeleski Coop because it was a custom made coop that had to fit into a fairly confined set of circumstances. What I have wanted to do was put together a few examples of coops for people to glean ideas and inspiration from so they can adapt and adjust to their specific circumstance.

So what I have done is take a series of detailed photos so that you can see the way it was put together and I have dimensioned the actual drawings (sections and plan) to what I think would be an appropriate size without constraints.

I have also included two other coop designs as further examples of ways that you can put a coop together quickly and cheaply, and even better still, with recycled materials. The second example is a coop put together by the Royal Botanic Gardens in Hobart with recycled pallets and scrap materials, while the third coop is one that I put together at home with all off-cut materials, a desk and an old chest of draws.

Use all the information in these examples, and adjust to suit your needs. The key point is that you don’t need to buy materials if you don’t want to. Every council clean up would have everything you need for free. Go on. Get creative. And by the way, the coop in my backyard was put together without any cuts. It was assembled with screws, a cordless drill and a hammer in approximately 45 minutes. Yes, 45 mins from start to release of chooks. I plan to put this up as a little video when I get the chance.

In the meantime, get coop cracking and please send me some pictures so I can share them with others who are looking for inspiration. And also because I would just love to see what you put together

Before You Start:

Before you get going it is important to check with your local council to see if they have any specific guidelines for having poultry at home. In the Tembeleski case, we had to be off set from the boundary a minimum of 900mm and we could not build above 1600mm in height. We also had a fence line that was not at right angles, meaning that the rear fence was actually closing in on the coops back corner putting it out of alignment. We also had to squeeze it between the fence and the mulberry tree, as this was the ideal location to house the coop for protection from the elements. Like these problems at the Tembeleski’s each of you will have your own constraints at your place, so sit down and work through these before you start digging, cutting and nailing things together.

1. Check your local council regulations.
2. Determine your setback from existing fences, structures and trees.
3. Familiarise yourself with sub-surface services such as plumbing, gas, electrical and telephone.
4. Finalise your location and mark it out on the ground with pegs and/or string so that you can start to get a feel for the location and bulk of your proposed coop.

Selecting Materials

It's important to remember that a chicken coop can be designed and built on any budget. The first question to ask yourself is how long is the coop going to be here for. In other words am I building something for the next 12 months, two years, five years or 20 years?

For example, if you are only going to be at your current house for 12 months then build it out of second hand materials and just get the chookies into your garden ASAP. If this is your family home and you have a plan of how you want things to look for the next 10-20 years then I would say think a little about the materials you want to build it out of. If you have a large block you may be able to build it down the back and screen a cheaper construction with a hedge. If you have a smaller block then you may want to integrate your design within your garden master plan.

In the case of the Tembeleski Coop, the design detail came from our initial sit down discussion about the garden. Angela and Cane have five children under 10 years old. This is their family home and basically they won’t be going anywhere for the next 20 years or more.

So the brief that came out of this for me was to build something that was going to go the distance. Cane and Angela are not exactly flush with time so when they do something they like to get it right the first time. My approach was to integrate the coop and the chicken run in such a way that it was sturdy construction and there was continuity of materials.

Given that the garden beds were pre-fabricated out of hardwood and corrugated iron, I decided to use these materials in the detailing of the chicken run, the coop and the replacement of the existing pergola. In this way the garden suddenly came together as everything flows from one side to the other. Even down to the construction of the garden edges, sand pit, garden planter by the house and staircase from the deck.

Materials Used

100mm x 100mm Hardwood timber posts
90mm x 45mm pine for internal framing
90mm x 20mm hardwood decking for door frames
12 ply plywood sheeting for floor and nesting boxes
20mm x 20 mm wire mesh for cage and gates
Galvanised corrugated iron sheets for roof and walls
Galvanised gutter and down pipe
Galvanised hinges for chicken run gates and nesting box door
Self-tapping roof screws for iron sheets
Recycled hardwood timber plank 200mm x 25mm for ramp access to coop for chickens

Photo 1: You can see from this photo how the materials of the coop, pergola/BBQ area and hardwood table and seats all tie together.

Photo 2: The freestanding coop and its location between the side fence, the boundary fence and the mulberry tree. The roof overhang was actually built around the mulberry tree branch. Note the hardwood posts of the chicken run and coop tie in nicely with the frame for the coop door and laying box latch frame.

Photo 3: Due to council guidelines, the coop could not be above 1.6m at the boundary. Consequently the coop floor is only 650mm off the ground. Ideally I would prefer the floor to be 1m above the ground to make it easier to get underneath the coop. Either way, it is better to have it off the ground so that you can utilise this space as a dry area for the chickens, ideal for their dry dirt bath space. What’s more it is better to have the entire operation higher off the ground so that access and cleaning requires less bending. Small details can make all the difference over the long run.

Photo 4: Nesting boxes and outward swinging door. Chickens require a nice snug and confined draught less space for nesting. The nesting boxes here are approx 400mm x 400mm constructed using the 12ply sheeting. There is a removable piece of 90 x 45 mm pine across the back floor to contain the nesting material, as the chickens love to scratch around to get comfortable and tend to push it out without this piece in position.

The opening for the swinging door is 900mm and this is framed with the 90 x 25mm hardwood decking. The frame for the door is the 90 x 45mm pine and two hinges allow the door to swing down. The beauty of this outward swinging door is that the children can access the eggs of a morning without having to enter the coop itself, a much cleaner and easier option on a daily basis. See photo 5 and 6 for the framing of the swinging door.

Photo 5: Frame detail for nesting box door using 90 x 45mm pine and 90 x 20mm hardwood.

Photo 6: Nesting box door on full swing. Don’t be confined to the width of the coop as used here. Adapt it to suit your site.

Photo 7: An off-cut of hardwood was used as a latch to hold the swinging nesting box door.

Photo 8: One of the girls decided to start laying on top of the nesting boxes. It's always good to observe things and then come across a few details not quite to plan. It's impossible to reach the eggs up on the roof of the nesting boxes so I am going to put a piece of 25 x 25 mm stake across the top as a perch that they can stand on. This will prevent her from laying there instead of underneath in the nesting box. The girls know how to uncover any opportunities. I like that. Keeping me on my toes.

Photo 9: The roof for the coop was framed separately and lifted into place. This photo illustrates the roof frame sitting on the wall frames. The corrugated iron sheets for walls and roof were then attached to the frame using self-tapping roofing screws and a cordless drill. Naturally, the roof went on last once the internal boxes and perches and doors were complete.

Photo 10: A second-hand piece of timber from the timber yard scrap pile was just perfect for our ramp. As were the little treads, off cuts on the rubbish pile that I got for nothing. But look at the character of the piece. Fits in perfectly and the girls actually march up and down this ramp of a morning and evening. It’s always a treat to open the door and watch them file out and down the ramp. A bit of sleeper off cut was enough to act as a post for the ramp.

Photo 11: This illustrates a simple support arm connected to the post to support the ledge across the front of the door.

Photo 12: One of the girls stepping out into the morning.

Photo 13: Illustrates the ramp and doorway. The doorway was made 600mm x 600mm. Working with it now, I would be inclined to make it 800mm x 800mm, just so you can reach in there more easily for cleaning out the coop. The little details make the difference. If the coop was 1m off the ground I would proportionally make the door larger.

Remember it’s all about access and maintenance on a weekly basis, so don’t make it harder than it needs to be for you. Something large enough that you can reach in and sweep it out easily. With the door Cane wants to put it on a little pulley so the boys can open and close it from the outside. But like anything, responsibility for the kids to make sure the door is closed each evening and opened in the morning is a good thing.

Photo 14: The roof has an overhang of approx 350mm. This is a good detail as it provides additional rain protection so that the run does not get soaked each time it rains. The larger the overhang the better in my mind as it also provides additional shade in the summer.

Photo 15: Due to the 1.6m height restriction, the roof corners are now at the perfect height to clock you in the head each time you walk past. This is a detail that is somewhat frustrating but we had no choice. Sleeve a piece of poly pipe (irrigation pipe) or purpose made cover sleeve over these types of edges for safety.

Photo 16: The water can be hung under the coop or elevated on bricks to be above the girls and their scratching.

Photo 17: The food dispenser has been hung above the ground under the coop. this keeps it away from any ground living vermin or pests. You can also get the automatic feeders. An ideal wish list gift when you have settled in as a backyard poultry farmer.

Photo 18: 25mm x 25mm mesh sheeting attached to posts using clips and screws.

Photo 19: Access to the chicken run with gate hinged on hardwood posts. The mesh sheeting provides ideal structure for cucumbers, beans, snow peas and passion fruit.

Photo 20: Guttered roof to catch drinking water to top up supply for chickens. Also prevents ground from becoming water logged and then smelly.

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