Definitely a Coop de Ville
- Heavy is good as long as it isn’t a mobile coop
- Narrow lumber will warp and bend, 1.5″ minimum thickness for strength
- The thicker the plywood the further apart you can put the studs
- Always hardware cloth, never chicken wire
- Screws and bolts will help hold things together if you want to move the coop
- Make sure the wheel size you choose will carry the weight in wet weather
- Wire mesh needs securely stapled, not clamped between wood strips
“Plan on a long weekend to create a small coop from scratch if you have decent carpentry skills. There are no end to plans online or just find a picture of a coop you like and figure out how to adapt it to the size you need..”
Use what you have!
Chicken Coop Materials
Unless you have plenty of money to spend you are going to be using basic building materials when building your coop. Or if you are purchasing a coop you are going to find two choices, locally made out of substantial materials or prefab coops that are built to be cheaper to ship and thus lighter in weight. Many people will simply use what they might have on hand or can scrounge.
If you are building a barn style, stationary coop you are going to need:
- Framing lumber, 2 x 4s and 2 x 3s, and some 2 x 8s or 2 x 6s for skids. Posts are usually made out of 4 x 4s.
- Plywood for floors, walls, and roofs. OSB (oriented strand board) or T1-11 plywood are popular choices that are found at the big box stores. Thickness will vary depending upon use and portability requirements.
- Solid wood lap siding is attractive and durable if you want to copy the doll house look of the Chinese prefab coops.
- Plenty of nails and screws and framing brackets/braces. Screws are stronger, especially if you are building a mobile coop.
- Shingles for the roof. Cheap OSB can be used for the roof if you cover it with tar paper and asphalt shingles. Or you can use 2 x 3 runners and steel sheet panels or fiberglass panels.
- Rolled roofing, similar to shingles but on a 36” wide solid roll, is a cheaper alternative to roofing shingles.
- Wire mesh, hopefully not chicken wire which is little protection against larger predators like raccoons or dogs. One half inch square hardware cloth is best, one quarter inch square is available if you think you are going to try to fence out rats and mice but it is a fool’s errand to attempt that.
- Staples to secure the wire mesh to the framing, U shaped nails hand driven with a hammer.
- Hinges, hasps, and steel angle braces to secure everything
- Windows are a nice touch or at least slide open hatches that are screened with hardware cloth
- Wheels and sturdy handles if you are going to make it mobile
Very neat and professional coop
- Buy or scrounge, use solid materials and do it once
- Top heavy is bad unless it has a foundation
If you are building a mobile coop many of the same material will be used but smaller in section to keep the weight of the coop to a minimum. Roofing could be good quality tarp or even old political banner materials. If you are inventive you can consider using PVC pipe or electrical metallic tubing (EMT). Heavy wire panels like cattle panels can be used as the structural arch if you are making an arched coop, with hardware cloth providing the predator shield. Something like a possum can squeeze through a 2.5” diameter hole, if their head will fit through, their body can come through, so cattle panels along aren’t enough.
Finally almost anything can be incorporated into a chicken coop if you aren’t particular on how it looks. Old windows, old doors, recycled lumber and steel sheeting, some amazing coops have been made out of salvaged materials or even pallets. A good coat of paint will unify everything and make it presentable.
Your coop can be built much more solid than anything you might buy online or from a local company but consider the weight of the final coop if you are planning on making it mobile. A good heavy coop is insurance against a storm blowing the coop over so sometimes a fixed location coop is the way to go.