If you want to raise chickens, you’ll need to provide them with a cozy, well-sheltered place to roost. These instructions will show you how.
Building your own chicken coop is a pretty involved project, so we’ve divided the instructions into three weekly installments, with the idea that most of us will want to take consecutive weekends to tackle each. Part 1, covered the needed materials. In part 2, we built out the frame and added the floor. This week, we’ll finish paneling the coop and ready it for nesting.
Front panels: In week 1, we cut our front panel into five pieces. Clamp the left panel to the front left side of the frame. Use a pencil to mark a 3-inch border on the panel, then attach it to the frame by driving 1 5/8″ screws at each corner of the border. Aligning them flush against the right side of the newly attached panel, attach the door panels at the top and bottom of the frame, then attach the final panel to the front right side of the frame. You should have three pieces for the back panel. Clamp the uppermost and lowest panels horizontally with their edges flush with the outer edge of the frame. Draw another 3-inch border and drive the screws at the corners. Put the middle panel aside for now.
Nesting box: Ten inches up from the floor of the coop and flush with the back, place the nesting box roof and secure it with 1 5/8″ screws. Clamp together the 11 ½” x 10” divider panels with the edges flush and mark one edge 3 ½” from one corner. Cut at the mark to a depth of 1 ½”, then along from the adjacent side to remove a rectangular section from the corner. Mark the floor at 12″ intervals and use your square to draw guide lines at a 90° angle from each mark. Slide the dividers into place, straighten their alignment with the guidelines, then trace their edges along the floor. Remove the dividers and use wood glue to fasten 10″ lengths of balsa wood to the outside edges of the lines you traced. Once the glue has dried, you can slide the dividers back into place.
Side panels: To provide airflow, cut circular holes in the side panels near the front. The holes can be cut either with a 4″ hole saw or by tracing the perimeter of the plastic drain grates directly onto the wood, then cutting along the line. Cut one panel first, then use it to align the hole on the opposite panel.
Clamp the panels to the side of the frame, and secure them using 1 5/8” screws, making sure that the top edge of the panel does not extend above the slope of the roof support.
Poultry decór: If you plan on painting or staining your chicken coop, now’s the time to do it. Make sure to apply two coats minimum, using a paint rated for exteriors. The trim we applied is made of ¼” x 1 5/8” moulding lattice arranged as a simple border following the perimeter of each panel to mimic the look of a traditional barn. To make painting the trim much easier be sure to measure, make all cuts, and paint the trim before attaching to the coop. Allow both the interior and exterior of the coop adequate time to thoroughly dry and vent before adding the roof slats or acclimating the chickens to the coop. Once the paint has dried, you can fix the drain grates in the side panels with some construction adhesive.
Doors and ramp: Attach the front door/ramp to the frame using two 2” utility hinges and one 2” window bolt. Set the hinges into the bottom center panel 1 ½” in from either side using the included screws to attach them to the trim. Place the window bolt at the center and top of the door/ramp, vertically aligned.
The nest box door should be attached in a similar fashion, using three 2 ½” utility hinges evenly spaced along the bottom and one 2” window bolt placed vertically at the center of the top edge of the door.
Roof: Before placing the slats, measure and mark a 1 ½” border along the long, thin edge of the bevel. Just as you would when shingling, start the roof slats from the bottom and work your way to the top letting each slat overlap the previous one with the line you created as a guide. Attach each slat to the 2” x 2” roof rafters using 1 5/8” screws. The cedar roof slats were cut long to allow an overhang on either side of the coop.
And with that, we’re done. Once the paint and adhesives are thoroughly dry, you can begin introducing your chickens to their new luxury accommodations. For more advice on what to do with them now, check out some of the other articles in our Chicken Month series.
Don’t have weekends to spare building your own? The Home Depot also sells prefabricated chicken coops.
Got questions about this article or any other garden topic? Go here now to post your gardening ideas, questions, kudos or complaints. We have gardening experts standing by to help you!