Table of Contents
- 2Wood sizes and measurements
- 3Materials list
- 4The flat plan
- 5The front elevation plan
- 6The side elevation plan
- 7The nesting boxes and storage area plans
- 8Making the floor and the wall frames
- 9Making the nests and the roof frame
- 10Fixing the wall cladding
- 11Fixing the roof boards and battens
- 12Door, hatchway and windows
- 13The perch, the mesh and ventilation
The Ultimate Chicken Coop by Les Kenny
I originally designed ‘The Ultimate Chicken Coop’ for a monthly magazine called the ‘Lifestyle Block’ – a practical small farm guide..
The plans and step-by-step instructions were first published in the magazine – issue 13, on June 2005 (subject to me retaining all rights).
Since, there has been a few minor modifications made to the article.
Many people have undertaken this project over time, some being good enough to
send in a photo or photos of their handiwork along with a note or two. We greatly appreciate such input.
Photos and constructive comments are a great help to others contemplating the start of this project.
About the measurements given
All measurements throughout this project are given in both Standard/Imperial inches and Millimeter measurements. (Abbreviation for millimeter which is a metric unit of length equal to one thousandth of a meter. 25.4 mm equals one inch.).
The measurements are given first in inches followed by millimetres in brackets (mm).
Example: 2″ x 4″ (100mm x 50mm).
For more information on Timber, lumber. The hard fibrous lignified substance under the bark of trees sizes and measurements go to ‘Wood sizes and measurement’ on page two.
Seek local knowledge
These plans and information are for the most part general. Before using them, it would be advisable to do a bit of your own research. Where necessary you may need to make changes to suit the local environment. The best type of information and knowledge available is local knowledge. Check with your local authority to see what may or may not be required from their point of view, including any animal welfare obligations.
The chickens mansion
A chicken coop is a place of shelter, a safe retreat for chickens and a place where the hens can lay their eggs. A chicken coop is accompanied by a run, which is the chickens’ outside area. The scope of the run can vary greatly depending on local conditions, the type of predator (wild or domestic) that might be lurking around seeking a free chicken meal and anything else that could be a threat to the well-being of the chicken. These factors will also determine whether the chicken can be free-ranging or confined to a fenced or fully enclosed type of holding pen.
This chicken coop should comfortably house at least eight chickens and generously allows for:
• 4.5 sq ft (0.4 sq m) of space per chicken
• 3 nests shared between 8 chickens
• 9″ (225mm)of perch length for each chicken
The design also allows for:
A bit of a storage area, chicken hatchway (i.e. entrance hole), ample ventilation, ample light and a A horizontal framing member above the door/window opening. that opens inwards and is big enough to enable easy access and cleaning of the chicken coop.
The floor is designed to take “deep litter” which is at least a 3″ (75mm) covering of wood shavings or similar.
NOTE: There is no design or allowance for any feeder system, water container or supply system. Although some people make their own, most people find it easier to purchase a feeder system /water container from the appropriate store.
Wood sizes and measurements
All measurements throughout this project are given in both Standard/Imperial inches and Metric (mm).
The measurements are given first in inches followed by millimetres in brackets (mm).
The size (width and thickness) of the wood referred to throughout this project is the The rough-sawn size of a piece of lumber. Before the lumber is surfaced, planed or dressed. The nominal size is usually greater than the actual dimension. e.g. 100x50 (2 x 4) actually equals 90x45 (1 1/2" x 3 1/2")..
That is in reference to the size of the Any of the framing wood. before it has been Surfaced; planed; smooth; even surface; gauged. (See Dressed. planed and/or seasoned).
When the wood has been dressed, (surfaced planed and/or seasoned) it is then called the ‘actual size’ which is the true size.
The The finished (dressed) size as opposed to the nominal size of a piece of wood. of lumber is smaller than the nominal size.
For example, if you have a piece of wood (lets say a piece of 2 x 4) in its rough state (prior to being dressed)
its size will be just that, 2″ x 4″ (two inches thick by four inches wide). However, once it has been dressed (surfaced, planed and/or seasoned), the finished wood will measure approximately 1 1/2″ x 3 1/2″ which is the
‘actual’ size (one and a half inches thick by three and a half inches wide).
Most Countries that use the Metric system generally call the bigger numeral first such as 100mm x 50mm.
whereas those that use the Standard. Feet and inch measurements. system generally put the smaller numeral first such as 2″ x 4″.
Rough or dressed wood, how does it matter?
In the overall scheme of things, it doesn’t matter that much. Use either rough or dressed. Rough wood is usually cheaper but dressed wood is
easier to work with and paint. Just remember to make allowances for the size difference when working off the plan if you use dressed (actual size) wood.
Below is a ‘nominal’ versus ‘actual’ list with all the wood sizes used in this project.
Nominal size 2″ x 2″ vs Actual size 1 1/2″ x 1 1/2″
Nominal size 2″ x 3″ vs Actual size 1 1/2″ x 2 1/2″
Nominal size 2″ x 4″ vs Actual size 1 1/2″ x 3 1/2″
Nominal size 4″ x 4″ vs Actual size 3 1/2″ x 3 1/2″
Nominal size 1″ x 4″ vs Actual size 3/4″ x 3 1/2″
Nominal size 1″ x 6″ vs Actual size 3/4″ x 5 1/2″
Nominal size 1″ x 12″ vs Actual size 3/4″ x 11 1/4″
Nominal size 50mm x 50mm vs Actual size 45mm x 45mm
Nominal size 75mm x 50mm vs Actual size 70mm x 45mm
Nominal size 100mm x 50mm vs Actual size 90mm x 45mm
Nominal size 100mm x 100mm vs Actual size 90mm x 90mm
Nominal size 100mm x 25mm vs Actual size 90mm x 19mm
Nominal size 150mm x 25mm vs Actual size 140mm x 19mm
Nominal size 300mm x 25mm vs Actual size 290mm x 19mm
Excludes hardware and any feeder or water supply materials.
4″ x 4″ (100mm x 100mm), 2 pieces at 72″ (1800mm) Suitable for exterior use
Floor Joists and boundary joists
2″ x 4″ (100mm x 50mm), 36 In a straight unbroken line. ft (11 lineal metres) Suitable for exterior use
4″ x 4″ (100mm x 100mm), 4 pieces at 72″ (1800mm
All framing walls and roof frame
2″ x 4″ (100mm x 50mm), 150 lineal ft (45 lineal metres)
Perch and perch support
2″ x 3″ (75mm x 50mm), 8 lineal ft (2.5 lineal metres)
2″ x 2″ (50mm x 50mm), 40″ (1 A measurement of the length of a board.)
Flooring, The exterior surface of a wall. and parts of nesting boxes
4′ x 8′ (1200mm x 2400mm) A piece of wood made of three or more layers of wood veneer laminated together with glue. sheets 3/4″ (18mm) thick, 7 sheets suitable for exterior use
The exterior surface of a building. Narrow board used to cover claddingThe exterior surface of a building. joins or used for decorative purposes., A strip of wood or a small batten that is attached to the door jambs on both sides and on top of the door thus stopping or limiting draught and/or rain. and part of nesting boxes
1″ x 4″ (100mm x 25mm), 120 lineal ft (36 lineal metres) suitable for exterior use
Part of nesting boxes
1″ x 12″ (300mm x 25mm), 9 lineal ft (2.6 lineal metres) suitable for exterior use
Roofing boards and litter A piece of sawn, or dressed lumber of greater width than thickness. Usually 19mm (3/4") to 38mm (1 1/2") thick and 75mm (3") or more wide.
1″ x 6″ (150mm x 25mm), 200 lineal ft (59 lineal metres) suitable for exterior use
Tar paper, breather type building paper or similar A building paper that covers roof frame prior to the cladding being fixed. Reduces air movement and helps avoid the risk of water ingress..
40 sq ft (7.5 sq metres), for under the roofing boards
You will also need an assortment of hardware including nails, hinges, door latches, door bolts, window catches, glass or acrylic Any broad, thin surface. (plastic glass) for use as window panes, Covered with a protective coating of zinc. flashings for openings where required as well as for roof Capping along the apex of the roof (right along the top). A galvanized flashing to keep the water out., and mesh/wire cloth/chicken wire for any permanent openings or air vents.
The flat plan
This is the flat plan, which is from a bird’s-eye-view, or looking down view. This plan shows the placement of the studs, roof A supporting member. and roof rafters and also the position of any doors or window, the nesting boxes and perches.
The corner studs are all of 4″ x 4″ (100mm x 100mm) stock and all the intermediate studs are of 2″ x 4″ (100mm x 50mm) stock. All the roof framing (comprising of the roof beam and the roof rafters) are also of 2″ x 4″ (100mm x 50mm) stock. The rafters and beam are represented by the gray shadow lines on the plan. The dashed line around the boundary. of the plan represents the roof line (i.e. the area that will be covered with the roofing boards).
The front Side view of a building. plan
This is the front elevation plan which gives a perspective of the frame viewed from the front.
The skids (i.e. what the chicken coop sits on) are of 4″ x 4″ (100mm x 100mm) stock and the joists are of 2″ x 4″ (100mm x 50mm) stock. The 3/4″ (18mm) plywood floor is fixed to the floor joists and then the rest of the frame is built on this. The chicken coop frame (wall and roof) is all of 2″ x 4″ (100mm x 50mm) stock, except for the corner studs which are 4″ x 4″ (100mm x 100mm).
This plan also gives detail of the roof rafters and pattern for cutting out the bird’s mouth. The bird’s mouth is the “cut out” piece of the Structural member of a roof that supports the roof load and runs from the ridge to the top of the side walls. that sits on the The top horizontal framing member of the wall., as shown in the diagram below.
The side elevation plan
This is the side elevation plan, which gives a perspective of the frame viewed from the side. This plan gives the length and height of the chicken coop and shows the placement of the studs and roof rafters. Also shown is the height of the perch and the nesting boxes.
The nesting boxes and storage area plans
The front and internal partitions in the nesting boxes/storage area combination are of 1″ x 12″ (300mm x 25mm) boards. The sides, the bottom, the nesting boxes’ lid and storage area door are 3/4″ (18mm plywood). The storage area door is not shown in this plan.
There is a gap or cavity between the internal partitions separating the nesting boxes from the storage area. This allows for two separate exterior lids: one above the nesting boxes and one above the storage area. Make the lids larger than the area they are to cover, so they overhang at the sides and at the bottom. They can then be hinged to the 1″ x 4″ (100mm x 25mm) piece of wood that runs along the top of the unit.
Making the floor and the wall frames
Step 1. The floor
Place the 4″ x 4″ (100mm x 100mm) skids level and Being of equal distance from each other at all points. on firm ground. See the front elevation plan on page five for placement.
On level ground, make up the Floor Frame comprising of two end joists, two intermediate joists evenly spaced, and two boundary joists – all 2″ x 4″ (100mm x 50mm) stock. The end result should be a square 72″ x 72″ (1800mm x 1800mm). Place the square floor frame on top of the skids and fasten in place.
Cover the floor with 3/4″ (18mm) plywood, nailing a maximum of 8″ (200mm) apart on all joists. Any join should be on a One of a series of parallel members used to support the floor. Part of the framing that provides the structure for a floor..
All the wood used in the floor structure should be suitable for exterior use.
Step 2. The frame
Make up the wall frames as shown in the drawing. The Any of the three linear measurements, length, breadth and depth. and A 100×50 (2×4) vertical framing member used to construct walls. placements can be seen in the plans (‘looking down view’ on page four) and the height of the Parallel to the horizon, flat, level. nest support members in the rear wall can be seen in the plans (‘side elevation’ on page six). The four corner studs are of 4″ x 4″ (100mm x 100mm) stock. The rest of the frame is 2″ x 4″ (100mm x 50mm) stock.
In this particular case there is no The bottom horizontal framing member of the wall. – the studs are nailed directly to the floor. This will make the floor easier to clean out.
The positioning of the studs either side of the door can be altered if need be, to suit a different size or style of door.
Making the nests and the roof frame
Step 3. The nests and the roof beam
Make up the nesting boxes/storage area combination unit, as shown in the plans (‘the nest’ on page seven).
Note that the storage area door is not shown in the plan and it can be added later.
Insert the nesting boxes/storage area combination unit, between the two pieces of 2″ x 4″ (100mm x 50mm) horizontal members in the rear wall, and To secure with nails or screws. in place.
Next, fix two 2″ x 4″ (100mm x 50mm) uprights,
one on top of the front wall frame and one on top of the rear wall frame. The two uprights, which are 10 3/4″ (270mm) long, are the roof beam supports.
Fasten the 2″ x 4″ (100mm x 50mm) roof beam on top of the two roof beam supports.
Step 4. The roof frame
Cut the roof rafters from 2″ x 4″ (100mm x 50mm) stock to the dimensions as shown in the plans (‘front elevation’ on page five). There will be 12 altogether, six each side of the roof.
Fix the rafters to the beam. The placement of the rafters is shown in the plans (‘looking down view’ on page four).
Note that there is a double rafter at each end of the roof. This is so the inside top of both front and rear walls can be lined, thus eliminating any high ledges that could be a problem to the chickens.
Fixing the wall cladding
Step 5. The wall cladding (The outer covering of a building meant to shed water and protect from the effects of weather.)
Fix 3/4″ (18mm) thick exterior-type plywood to the frame, making sure that all joins are over a stud.
Make the bottom of the chicken hatchway opening at least 3″ (75mm) above the floor level to The part of the plywood wall panels that overlaps the door and window frame, and protrudes into the door or window area and covers any gaps between the door/window and the surrounding frame. It acts as a stop for the door and also stops the rain getting in. any litter falling out.
Insert galvanized Any piece of material, usually metal or plastic, installed to prevent water from penetrating the structure. at the top of the doorway, the chicken hatchway and above the nesting boxes lid.
The flashing should tuck under the plywood cladding by about 2″ (50mm) at the top of each opening and then angle out, also about 2″ (50mm). The flashing is to deflect the rain or any dripping.
Note that the windows will not need any flashing as they are tucked up under the The part of the roof which extends beyond the exterior side wall. The projecting lower edge of a roof where the gutters are located. The eaves are made up of both the soffit (covering for underside of an overhang) and the fascia (A horizontal trim fixed to the ends of the roof rafters). of the roof.
Before fixing the plywood cladding above the nesting boxes, run a flexible waterproof type of material under the plywood and over the top of the lid. This is to waterproof the hinged area of the lid, yet still allow the lid to be lifted. Even heavy-duty waterproof canvas will do the trick, although the end of the canvas would need to be wrapped around and fixed to a strip of wood or similar that will act as a weight and stop the canvas from blowing up.
Fixing the Boards used to cover the roof. and battens
Step 6. The roof and the battens
Lay tar paper, heavy breather-type building paper or similar roofing A building paper that envelops the exterior walls or roof frame prior to the cladding being fixed. Reduces air movement and helps avoid the risk of water ingress. over top of the rafters, ensuring it is taut and waterproof prior to putting on the roofing boards.
A short nail with a large flat head used for securing roofing felt, plasterboard, sheet metal to wood etc. the 1″ x 6″ x 8ft (150mm x 25mm x 2400mm) roofing boards to the rafters with 3″ (75mm) galvanized flathead nails.
Start at the bottom of the rafter and then work your way up, overlapping each board by at least 1″ (25mm). Nail through both boards where they overlap and ensure the overhang at each end of the chicken coop is equal.
Apply a galvanized flashing (The horizontal line at the top of opposing sloping sides of a roof running parallel with the building length. Covering) at the apex of the roof, covering at least 4″ (100mm) each side.
Fix the 1″ x 4″ (100mm x 25mm) battens over the plywood cladding at each join, each stud, and at the corners and sides of every door and window. Preferably the battens should have a groove each side of the join to stop water being drawn up by capillary action.
Screw the 1″ x 6″ (150mm x 25mm) litter board to the inside of the studs at each side of the door opening. The litter board is just to stop the litter from falling out. When the chicken coop needs a clean out, the litter board can be removed.
Door, hatchway and windows
Step 7. Door, hatchway, and windows
A basic door can be made from 3/4″ (18mm) thick exterior plywood.
A hole can be cut out for a window and covered with a piece of clear acrylic sheet (plastic glass) about 2″ (50mm) bigger than the hole, all the way around. The acrylic sheet can be fixed to the door with screws. Drill the screw holes in the sheet first and apply a Beading. Thin line of sealant. of clear waterproof A pliable substance used to seal a surface to prevent passage of a liquid. around the edge of the acrylic sheet before screwing it in place.
The door should have a 1/4″ (6mm) gap each side and the bottom should be slightly above the top of the litter board. When the door is hinged in place (to open in), add the door stops (see diagram).
The windows in the walls can be made in the same way as the door window (mentioned above).
Make the chicken hatchway door so that it is hinged at the bottom and can be opened down to form a ramp. Make the door bigger than the hole, so when the door is closed it will fit between the battens on the side and tuck neatly under the flashing at the top.
You will need to add some type of pad A metal rod that has a head on one end and threads on the other and is used to fasten together lumber. The most common bolts used or referred to in projects within this website are coach/carriage bolts and hex bolts. or The locking device on a door or window. to keep the hatchway door closed.
The perch, the mesh and ventilation
Step 8. Perch, mesh, ventilation
Add the perch as shown in the plans ‘front elevation’ and ‘side elevation’). The perch can be supported by a 2″ x 2″ (50mm x 50mm) prop at one end and fixed to the lower part of the storage Rough grade timber. at the other end with a joist hanger (or similar type of fixing bracket).
At the top of the side wall there will be a gap between the top of the wall cladding and the underside of the roofing boards. This gap can be covered with a suitable mesh or purpose-made vents. They can be fitted between the rafters and fixed to the top of the plywood exterior cladding.
A bit of paint and it’s finished!
Different climatic conditions and environments may necessitate additions and/or variations to this basic plan. For example, in hotter climates the chicken coop may need to be insulated and have windows that can be opened. In colder areas the chicken coop may need to be insulated and have shutters that can cover any ventilation areas.
As stated at the beginning, the best type of information and knowledge available is local knowledge, so ask around.