Welcome Guest
Shop
Based on your location, we believe this is the store closest to you. If you would like to change to a different store, please click here.
X  Close
Submit a Review - Tractor Supply Co.
Share |
 
 

How the Chicken Crossed the Road Chicken Coop

A Movable Coop that Makes Cleanup Easy

 
How the Chicken Crossed the Road Chicken Coop

This practical, easy-to-use coop is functional in two unique ways: it is mobile, and it streamlines the cleanup process. Adding wheels to one end of the coop provides the mobility. One or two people can easily wheel around this “chicken rickshaws” type of structure. To simplify cleanup, you’ll find a novel concept for chicken coops: the poop tray. The chickens roost directly above a pair of removable trays that collect the majority of the chicken droppings. The trays slide in a set of tracks so they don’t get moved around. A large set of doors on the end walls provides access to the coop’s spacious interior. You can simply move out the roosts for hosing off.

If you build this coop off-site, you will need to transport it to its destination. Therefore, this coop is easy to take apart and reassemble.

 
Construct the bottom frame

1. Construct the bottom frame. Begin this coop by constructing a frame from 2x4s (A, B). To join the parts, use galvanized angle brackets.

 
Attach the side walls

2. Attach the side walls. Build the sides of the coop (C) out of 3/8" (8mm) plywood ripped down to 2 1/2' (800mm) wide. With the frame sitting directly on the floor, screw the sides (C) to the frame. Space the screws about 1' (300mm) apart.

 
Prepare to add the end walls

3. Prepare to add the end walls. Without the end wall panels (D) in place to support the sides (C), the structure isn’t particularly strong, and the walls (C) may lean in a bit. This is not a cause for concern—adding the end walls (D) firms things right up.

 
Lay out the end walls

4. Lay out the end walls. The end walls (D) are 3/8" (8mm) plywood. Lay out a roofline as follows: the height of the panel is 3 1/2' (1100mm) and the start of the pitch is at 2 1/2' (800mm), meaning the taper rises 1' (300mm) over a 2' (600mm)-wide span. This is a so-called 6:12 pitch. Use a framing square to lay out a nice wide door (30" x 27" [762 x 685mm]) to make cleanout a snap, and add a small 11" x 11" (280 x 280mm) window below the gable for extra ventilation.

 
Cut out the end wall doors and windows

5. Cut out the end wall doors and windows. When cutting out the doors, start and stop the cuts cleanly in the corners so that you can reuse the “waste” pieces as doors. Use a circular saw for this operation, but a jigsaw works well too. The windows aren’t critical—they are such small pieces, it is easy to find scraps to fit.

 
Attach the end walls to the coop

6. Attach the end walls to the coop. Screw the end walls (D) through the base frame (A, B). Add interior corner bracing (E) to reinforce the corner where the wall panels converge. Use 2x4s with screws and glue. Make sure to cut the 2x4 shy of the top of the walls so you’ll have space to tuck in a 2x4 cleat (L)—more on this later.

 
Attach the legs

7. Attach the legs. Now make and add the legs (F, G) that hold the coop off the ground. These are just 2x4s mitered at the top to match the roof angle (26 1/2°) so the roof sheathing can overhang a few inches. Start with legs all the same length, or you can use lengths marked on the materials list to avoid cutting in the next step.

 
Locate the wheels

8. Locate the wheels. This coop uses a set of wheels (H) on the far end, so you need to shorten the legs on that end (G). Drill a hole for the axles (I)—if you used 45" (1145mm) legs for the back, you won’t need to cut. To lay this out, line up the wheel (H) with the bottom of the rear legs (G) and mark for the axle (I). Then cut the leg a few inches from the bottom.

 
Drill the axle holes

9. Drill the axle holes. Drill a 9/16" (14mm) hole to allow wiggle room for the 1/2" (13mm)-diameter axle.

 
Review your progress

10. Review your progress. This photo shows how the legs are different lengths. Prior to installing the wheels, the whole thing slopes downhill a bit.

 
Mount the axle and wheels

11. Mount the axle and wheels. Install an axle that runs from one side of the coop to the other. The axle will likely sag, but it gets the coop leveled out so you can continue working. You’ll solve this problem later. However, you may wish to install the 1/2" (13mm)-diameter bolts (I) now.

 
Cut out the nest box access

12. Cut out the nest box access. You’ll use the long backside of the coop for nest box access. Cut out a large 4' x 1' (1200 x 300mm) rectangle. You will be using it as a door, so cut carefully.

 
Hinge the nest box access door

13. Hinge the nest box access door. The three hinges you install for the door allow for access to all the nest boxes at once. Putting the hinges at the bottom means you won’t need to use one hand to keep it open.

 
Cut out the side door

14. Cut out the side door. Across from the nest box area, cut out a large 44" x 24" (1118 x 610mm) opening for day-in-and-day-out access.

 
Trim the end wall windows

15. Trim the end wall windows. Trim out the small window on the end walls (D) with 3/4" (19mm)-thick scraps of cedar (J). Assemble the trim as a unit before mounting to make sure the miters are all tight. When the glue dries, attach the frames to the outside of the openings and secure them with screws from inside the coop. The opening of the frame is about 1" (25mm) smaller than the window—this hides the plywood edge and creates a more finished look.

 
Install the bottom

16. Install the bottom. Use 1/2" (13mm)-thick plywood for the bottom (K). Notch the corners with a jigsaw so the bottom fits properly around the corner supports (E).

 
Insert filler slats

17. Trim the end panel doorways. Trim out the door openings. Set the trim (V) in about 1/2" (13mm) to conceal the edge of the plywood.

 
Build the nest boxes

18. Build the nest boxes. A good rule of thumb is to provide one nest box for every four birds. This coop is designed for about fifteen chickens, so four nest boxes is about right. Rather than build separate boxes, it is easier and faster to build one large unit and add a few dividers (W). Cut a wedge off each divider (W) so that the top edge slopes from 15" (380mm) in the back to 12" (305mm) in the front. Put a small lip—the exact height is not critical—at the bottom of the boxes to keep the bedding material from spilling out.

 
Place the nest boxes

19. Place the nest boxes. The nest boxes should fit perfectly into place. They’re not fastened so you can remove them for cleaning. The sloped roof design should prevent perching and the subsequent droppings, making for less maintenance down the road.

 
Install the roof cleats

20. Install the roof cleats. Earlier, in step 6, you left space for a 2x4 cleat (L) at the top of both side walls (C). Add the cleats now. They provide a place to secure the lower edge of the roof panels (M). Install a 2x4 (L) at the peak of the roof as a way to support the top edge of the roof panels. Angle the 2x4s so the roof panels (M) are flat.

 
Attach the roof panels

21. Attach the roof panels. The total length of this coop is 96" (2400mm) (84" [2100mm] for the coop, 6" [152mm] of overhang on each end), so you can’t use just one piece of plywood as roof sheathing. This shouldn’t be a problem—just cut separate panels (M) and install them side-by-side to the underlying 2x4s (L).

 
Staple on the felt paper

22. Staple on the felt paper. As protection from leaks, add a layer of felt paper (U) to the roof and secure it with staples. Put on pieces of paper slightly larger than the roof, and then trim them to size with a utility knife. This is easier than cutting the felt paper exactly to size and trying to install it precisely—it can be hard to align when you’re working alone. However, if you’re going to use adhesive in step 32, wait until then to trim the felt paper.

 
Attach the end panel doors

23. Attach the end panel doors. Hinge the doors (N) on the end of the coop at the bottom. It is faster and easier to install one large door than two smaller ones and requires half as many hinges. Use the wood you cut out in step 5 if it looks okay. Install a latch on the top of the doors.

 
 
Trim out the end panel doors

24. Trim out the end panel doors. Trim out the edges of the doors (N), but you’ll have to miter the bottom edges of the vertical trim (V) so that the door can swing down all the way. A blunt 90° cut would get in the way.

 
Install wire on the windows

25. Install wire on the windows. Staple chicken wire on the inside of the small ventilation windows. This keeps chickens in and predators out and provides extra airflow.

 
Install main side doors

26. Install main side doors. Hinge the main side doors (O) at the sides. Run a strip of wood (V) up the center to flange over the gap between the two doors. A small brass handle is a nice touch here.

 
Create the poop tray tracks

27. Create the poop tray tracks. The poop tray is a practical idea that saves cleanup time. The roosts sit above a pair of removable trays, so the droppings consolidate in one place. The trays slide in a simple set of L-shaped tracks (P) that you can make on the table saw in a few minutes. Cut waste material from the 2x4s. Note that this operation requires you to change the blade height and fence position between cuts. The exact location and size of the cut-out isn’t critical.

 
Install the tracks

28. Install the tracks. Install the tracks (P) parallel to each other about 18 1/2"–19" (470–485mm) apart, using a series of countersunk screws.

 
Create the poop trays

29. Create the poop trays. The trays (Q) themselves are 18" (458mm) wide by 40" (1015mm) long. You may consider putting a handle on the end, but a simple hole functions just as well. Use a 1 1/4" (32mm)-diameter spade, or paddle, bit to make the holes.

 
Make the roosts

30. Make the roosts. The roosts (Y, Z) are lightweight and removable, and they fit neatly atop the trays. You can build them in two sections, or build a single long one. Screw the long dowels (Y) into the roost supports (Z).

 
Install wheel supports and permanent axles

31. Install wheel supports and permanent axles. The wheels need to be supported on both sides. Adding a 2x4 (R) does the trick, and 7" (178mm)-long bolts with lock nuts (I) hold everything in place.

 
Apply roofing adhesive

32. Apply roofing adhesive. When it is time to install the roofing, cut back the felt paper (U) a few inches along the edges. Put in a layer of adhesive to secure the roll roofing to the sheathing (most home improvement stores carry an inexpensive product for just this purpose).

 
Apply the roofing

33. Apply the roofing. Rolling out the roofing (T) by yourself is tricky. Keep it rolled up and secure one end with staples. You should be able to manage it, but when in doubt, get help.

 
Clamp the roof and let dry

34. Clamp the roof and let dry. The adhesive needs a couple of days to set up, so clamp the edges down with a caul and a simple spring clamp. Secure the middle section of the roofing by nailing it directly to the sheathing at 1' (300mm) intervals.

 
Trim up the roofing

35. Trim up the roofing. As with the felt paper (U), it is easier to roll out the roofing material (T) if you have some extra width—the excess can be trimmed off with a utility knife.

 
Cover the windows

36. Cover the windows. To seal up the windows, cut a pair of square panels (AA) out of 3/4" (17mm) plywood and attach them to the frames (J) with hinges. A little decoration never hurts.

 
Examine the window covering

37. Examine the window covering. The hinges on the left side of the window cover (AA) look neat and clean.

 
Shape the handles

38. Shape the handles. A set of handles enables you to move the coop around easily. Use a pair of 40" (1015mm)-long 2x2s and round over their edges with a router to make them easy on the hands.

 
Attach the handles

39. Attach the handles. To attach the handles (S) to the coop, drill a pair of 1 3/4" (44mm) holes in the bottom corners of the end wall (D). Then insert the handles and screw them into the floor of the coop with a couple of long 2" (50mm) screws.

 
Examine the handles

40. Examine the handles. The distance between the handles may be a limiting factor for some flock owners. If the handles are closer together, one person has an easier time maneuvering the coop. But that isn’t an option with this coop because the door takes up most of the real estate in that area. Even so, it works quite well.