I have been helping our friends build a chicken coop so that they can start raising their own hens and producing their own eggs. The week before I helped them build a compost pile so that they could start composting their yard waist on a larger scale, now we move into coop development. After researching different designs and methods for building a coop I decided to go with one that would fit well in the tropics. Much like San Diego, you don’t have to worry about a freeze or the chickens getting to cold, however you do need to be concerned with other natural elements like predators, tropical rain storms, gusty winds and too much heat. Taking this into consideration I designed a coop that would protect the hens from the elements, yet be opened up enough to allow a breeze and shade for the hens to grow in.
Chicken Coop Design
The structure of the coop is 4x8x8. It is 4 ft wide by 8ft long and 8ft high at its highest point. The floor of the hen house is three feet off of the ground. There is a thatched roof covering the length of the coop to keep out the rain and sun. The roofs highest point is at 8ft (in the center) dropping down to 6ft on the front side, and 7ft on the back side. This allows for a consistent air flow throughout the coop
I designed the coop on paper, worked out the measurements and then we started putting it together after we picked up the supplies. As expected we made a few adjustments as we began to put the coop together to fit the surroundings a little better. One thing that I didn’t keep in mind was the slope that we would be working on, this eventually elevated the ‘run’ side a little more giving the hens an extra 6 inches to play around in.
Chicken Coop Supplies
- 3 4×8′ 1/2″ pieces of plywood
- 22 2x4x8′ studs
- 12 2x2x8′ studs
- 2 4×8′ roofing sheets
- 1 4×50′ roll of chicken wire
- 1 large box of 3.5″ screws
- 1 large box of 2″ screws
- 8 hinges
- 4 latches
- 4 cinder blocks
- 2 Boxes of Staple Gun Stapels
- Poultry Feeder
- Poultry Water Bottle
- Wood Shavings or Hay
Tools Needed to Build the Chicken Coop
- Staple Gun
- Skill Saw
- Wire Cutters
- Tape Measure
- Pen or Pencil
Chicken Coop Structure
After we picked a location by the mango tree, the first thing that we did was put together the frame. This would be our skeleton if you will, everything else would be built off of the frame. As mentioned before the frame of the structure is 4ft wide by 8ft long. We put 6ft posts on the front side, 7ft posts on the back side, and two 8ft posts on the ends (for the roof). Notice the cinder blocks used to give us a level playing field, not the prettiest look, this is something that we will fix up as we finish the project.
The first step was building the two main frame pieces.
Keep in mind that 2×4’s aren’t realy 2 inches by 4 inches, in most cases they are 1 1/2 inches by 3 3/4 inches. This means for your first step you need to make 45″ cuts in your 8ft 2×4 studs, in stead of straight 48″ cuts, you will make up the difference in the extra 1 1/2″ outside studs to make an exact 4×8 frame. You will use the entire 96″ or 8′ for the long side of the frame.
Step 1 (Frame):
- Make six 45″ inch cuts in your 2x4x8′ studs
- Attach 45″ cuts to the inside of the 8′ studs
Step 2 (Frame):
- Make three six foot 6′ Cuts in the 2x4x8’s
- Make three seven foot 7′ Cuts in the 2x4x8’s
- Attach the three 6′ cuts on the inside corners of one side of the frame (36″ gaps in frames)
- Attach the three 7′ cuts on the inside corners of the other side of the frame (36″ gaps in frames)
- Attach three 8′ studs on the outside of the frame (center at 24″ in) and one on the center studs inside the frame
Step 3 (Roof Frame):
- Make three 42″ Cuts in the 4x2x8’s
- Make three 36″ Cuts in the 4x2x8’s
- Connect a 8′ 2×4 on top of the 8′ studs previously installed
- Connect three 42″ Cuts from 8′ top stud to the outside of the 6′ side top frame
- Connect three 36″ Cuts from 8′ top stud to the outside of the 7′ top frame
*Depending upon what type of material you use for your roof, you may want to add a couple of more support studs on each side of the roof frame 5 42″ cuts on the 6ft side and 5 36″ cuts with 1′ extensions pieces on the 7ft side.
Chicken Coop Construction
After we got the frame up we started to work on the hen house itself, this is where the hens will go to lay their many eggs in the future. We closed off the floor and the back wall first because these are permanent, no doors or latches needed. In this picture you can see that we also added a few more frame pieces for the roof, this was because of the type of roofing that we decided to go with. You will be able to see why when we finish.
Step 4 (Hen House Walls):
- Make one 36″ 2×4″ cut (center stud on inside wall)
- Make one 24″ 2×2 cut (top frame for breather gap on front wall)
- Make one 4’x4′ Plywood cut out of 4×8′ piece of plywood (floor)
- Cut out 1 1/2″x 3 3/4″ rectangles out of each corner of 4×4′ floor piece of plywood (room for studs)
- Make one 3’x4′ plywood cut (Back Wall)
- Make one 3’x2′ plywood cut (inside wall)
- Make one 33″x24 1/2″ plywood cut (front wall)
- Lay down 4×4′ plywood floor (align cut out corners of plywood for snug fit)
- Attach 36″ 2×4″ center stud on front wall
- Attach one 24″ 2×2 top frame on front wall 33″ up (Leave 3″ breather gap)
Hen House Layout
Once we put in the permanent walls and floor we began building the doors that would allow us access into the hen house for cleaning and feeding. This front door section will open up giving us plenty of room to work around the hen house.
Step 5 (Hen House Doors):
- Cut two 23 1/2″ x 36 3/4″ cuts in plywood (egg doors)
- Cut four 23 1/2″ pieces from the 2x2x8′ studs
- Cut four 32 1/2″ pieces from the 2x2x8′ studs
- Attach two 23 1/2″ 2×2 to top and bottom of 32 1/2″ 2×2 pieces (create frames for two door)
- Attach 23 1/2″ x 36 3/4″ piece of plywood to frames
- Attach latches and hinge to Coop
- Cut one 22 1/2″ x 36 3/4″ cuts in plywood
- Cut two 22 1/2″ pieces from the 2x2x8′ studs
- Cut two 32 1/2″ pieces from the 2x2x8′ studs
- Attach two 22 1/2″ 2×2 to top and bottom of 32 1/2″ 2×2 pieces (create frames to two door)
- Attach 22 1/2″ x 36 3/4″ piece of plywood to frames
- Attach latches and hinge to Coop
The Nesting Boxes came next on our plans. We decided to do two rows of boxes 4 boxes deep. This gives us a total of 8 nesting boxes. Each box is 12″x12″12″. We started the bottom row 4 inches off of the floor and the next row 12 inches above that. We left a 3″ over hang to give the hens something to climb up to before entering their boxes. We also put a 4 inch lip on the front of the boxes making the entrance to the boxes 8″x12″. We did this to give the hens more protection and less room to move around. This should prevent them or the other hens from eating their eggs once they began producing.
Step 6 (Nesting Boxes):
- Cut three 48″x15″ Pieces of 1/2 ” Plywood (floors and roofs)
- Cut six 12″x12″ Pieces of 1/2″ Plywood (separator walls)
- Cut two 4″x48″ Pieces of 1/2 Plywood (Front Ledge)
- Cut six 12″ Pieces of 2×2 studs (support)
- Cut two 15″ Pieces of 2×4 stud (bottom rise)
- Attach six 12″ 2×2 to the 6 12×12 Pieces of Plywood (Support)
- Attach three 12×12 Pieces to 48×15″ Piece of Plywood (12″ gaps)
- Repeat above step with second piece of 48×15″ Plywood
- Stack pieces on top of each other and attach 3rd piece of 48×15″ of plywood as roof
- Attach remaining 48×4″ plywood pieces as front lips
- Place two 15″ 4×4 studs on the bottom of the coop (floor rise)
- Place Nesting boxes on top of 4×4 studs inside of the coop
Behind the nesting boxes, on the outside of the hen house we installed two barn style doors to give us easy access to all of the boxes, thus giving us easy access to the eggs down the road. This will also make it easier for cleaning an maintenance when the time comes.
Hen House Entrance
Next we will put up the roof, chicken wire enclosure and last minute adjustments. As you can see the Tropical Chicken Coop at this point is coming along just fine.
Step 7 (Chicken Coop Roof):
- Cut two 48″x36″ cut in 4×8′ roof sheet
- Cut two 48″x42″ cut in 4×8′ roof sheet
- Attach two 48″x42″ pieces onto 6ft side of coop (from top beam to top of support beams)
- Attach two 48″x36″ pieces onto 7ft side of coop (from top beam to top of support beams)
- Attach 8′ top piece to top beam on coop
Step 8 (Chicken Coop Gate & Final Touches)
- Cut one 36″ piece of 2×4 stud
- Cut four 9″x9″ corner triangle pieces
- Cut two 36″ pieces of 2×2 stud
- Cut two 32″ pieces of 2×2 stud
- Cut one 51″ piece of 2×2 stud (add 45 degree angle cut on both ends)
- Attach 36″ 2×4 as door frame (12″ from center stud)
- Attach 32″ 2×2 pieces to the inside of the the 36″ 2×2 pieces (make a 36″x36″ sq frame)
- Attach 51″ 2×2 at angle for frame support
- Attach four 9″x9″ triangle pieces to the four inside corners of frame (9″ * 9″ * 12 3/4″)
- Attach chicken wire to outside of frame
- Attach gate to hinges on the outside of coop frame (swing out)
- Attach latch to gate and frame for security
- Add perches and walkway to hen house In chicken run area
- Cover the entire coop with chicken wire (it is a good idea to burry chicken wire 6 inches into the dirt facing out for added protection from predators.
- Add Poultry Feeders and Water Bottle
- Add Chickens
There is slow and subtle change happening in suburban homes across the country, the chicken coop is beginning to replace the dog house, and for a good reason. There are a variety of reasons to keep chickens in urban environments. People have been keeping chickens in cities for centuries, and here are some of the benefits when you add chickens into your urban lifestyle:
Chicken eggs are a Local source of protein
If you live in an urban environment you can grow your own fresh fruits and vegetables in your backyard. When it comes to supplying your own source of protein however, it’s impossible to get your dog to lay breakfast each morning or fit a cow in your backyard. That’s why chickens are so wonderful! They are small, easy to care for, and won’t take up your entire yard.
Better Quality Foods
Fresh foods simply taste better! Also, when you raise your own eggs, you know what the animal ate, its living conditions, and how it was treated. No need to worry about food safety, antibiotics, or hormones.
Source of fertilizer
Chicken poop is high in nitrogen and great for your compost pile. Supply your backyard garden with compost made from chicken poop and watch your plants flourish!
Natural pest control
Got cockroaches, tomato horn worms, aphids, grubs, or any other pest you don’t want in your yard or garden? Chickens are great at controlling these pests naturally- no need to put nasty chemicals in your yard.
It was time to get serious about building the chicken coop. Either we built in time for the chicks, or the chicks would need it before we had time. Finding a place to put the chicken coop was our first obstacle. We have a great yard but not a whole lot of space to work with. We decided to go with a semi built storage shelf by our office nook where we kept our composters. Coming up with the plans was easy once we started jotting down our ideas.
Keeping with the simple logic, we decided to build our coop in two parts. A good poultry house protects the birds from the elements (weather), predators, injury and theft. Poultry require a dry, draft-free house. This can be accomplished by building a relatively draft free house with windows and/or doors which can be opened for ventilation when necessary. It is also necessary to build the coop on high, well-drained areas. This prevents prolonged dampness and water saturation of the floor of the coop and outside runs. Allowing an adequate level of space per bird also helps keep the humidity level in the coop to a minimum. The first part would be the actual coop house, where we would keep the nests for our future eggs. This section we would put in an elevated area. The next part would be a chicken run. This is the area that the hens will be able to cruise around and play in the dirt.
We started out by cleaning out the designated area, and building a frame to get an idea of what we would be working with. We wanted to keep as much as a natural element to the coop as we could, so we worked around existing branches and structures already available.
Once we got the frame up, we started to add the chicken wire. We built the chicken run area large enough for us to stand in. This will help with cleaning out the area in the future. The wire mesh we are using has a 1" wholes. This is the recommended size for chickens. We also learned that it is much cheaper to by the wire mesh that they use for roofing. It is the same stuff that they sell for chickens. It is just marketed for a different use, and comes in a larger roll. The wire mesh we purchased is 20 gauge, 36" wide and 150′ long. We will most likely only use half of what we purchased, but can use the rest in the future around our garden.
When building the actual coop house, we needed to make sure that the hen’s will have adequate space for movement and exercise as well as areas to nest and roost. It is recommended for egg laying hens to have 1.5 ft of space inside the coop, and 8ft of space in the run. We will also add perches for them to hang out on. With these chickens, we will provide 6 to 10 inches of perch space per bird. We will also provide them a nest. You should always provide at least one nest for every 4-5 females in the flock.
This is what the view looks like from inside the coop house, looking out to the run.
Slowly but surely it all starts to come together.We still need to add a pen door, as well as make sure everything is tight and secure from predators. Once we are done it will be important to remove any loose or ragged wire, nails, or other sharp-edged objects from the coop. We will also eliminate all areas other than perches where the birds could perch more than 4 feet above the floor. These extra measures could eliminate any injury to our birds and may prevent damage to the coop, as well.
Once the coop house is done, we will retrieve our eggs from this door. We decided to leave the existing wood structure for the back wall to their house. This way they can enjoy some old old ivy vines for natural decor.
We built a raised floor in the coop area to assist in the ventilation as well as the cleaning and the collection of their waist for composting. The floor is built with the 1" chicken mesh, raised about 4 inches off of the floor. We will place a large tray down below for easy collection of their waist before they move in.
This is a view from inside the chicken run area, up to the coop house. We are about 90% percent done with the coop. We should be finished with it by next week, giving us a few days of tweaking it out before the chicks will be ready to move in.
The chicken coop is replacing the dog house in many suburban homes for a good reason. Chickens are a local source of protein a natural pest controller, and make a great fertilizer for your garden. Find out about poultry care, different breeds, chicken coops designs and more.
The following images, videos and diagrams are of different home scale aquaponics units. Some of these units perform better than others, but each one is unique and a reference for those attempting to figure out what to build.