Monday, June 2, 2014

DIY: Small Backyard Chicken Coop

What goes into designing a chicken coop?  It depends on your needs.  When I built our first chicken coop it had to be a design that would be big enough to house all of our chickens but small enough to not overwhelm our back yard.

What do I mean by overwhelm?

Well, when you walk out into someone's back yard for the first time you notice certain things.  Perhaps it is their lucious green garden.  Maybe a well pruned and maintained fruit tree or a child's play set.  It is the thing that immediately catches your eye.  You are drawn to it for better or worse.  If its for better, then it adds to the decor in a positive manner.  If it is for worse, like an unsightly, run down, misshapen chicken coop, then it becomes overwhelming.

I wanted to be able to walk into my back yard and like what I saw.  Something that didn't make me say, "oh wow hey, that is one ugly something."

I put a lot of time, energy and effort into building the first chicken coop.

So it is with a heavy heart that I must tear it down.  However, I am encouraged by the thought that when we get to where we are going, I will build something greater in it's place!

For now I must meet an immediate need and it must fit all our criteria:

1.  Must be small and accommodate 2 to 4 chickens.

2.  Easy set up and take down.

3.  Must double as a transport carrier.

4.  Must have a large access so it can be cleaned easily.  (If it is going in the back of our car at some point as a carrier, then it will need to be cleaned often.)

I combined elements of several different designs and added a few ideas of my own and this is what I came up with.

You may be wondering why so many sets of hinges and locking mechanisms.  I left 2 doors off the final build.  The front door and one of the smaller side doors.  Both are optional depending on the end users needs.

I incorporated two smaller doors on one side of the coop.  The front one is for ventilation.  It can be opened during the day to allow for more air flow.  It can then be closed at night to make it more predator proof.

  Also, one large door on the other side of the coop that would be used for cleaning.

A hinged door could be added to the front of the coop and the whole thing could be buttoned up at night for protection of your backyard flock.  I would recommend an additional ventilation hole at the top just under the overhang to aid in air circulation if you went that route.  If all the doors were incorporated into the final build you would need 4 sets of hinges and 4 locking mechanisms.

Cut List:


Back Panel

Front Door Frame

Large Door Side Frame

Side frame with two small doors

Corner Pieces



I'm giving the total floor dimensions on this one.  What I did was edge glued 7 - 1x4's @ 32-1/2".  That gives you a 24-1/2" wide piece which is a half inch short of your required width.  I then added a 1x3 @ 32-1/2" and that extends the width to 27".  I then attached the floor to the carcass of the coop leaving all the overhang on one side.  Then I took a flush trim bit in my router and trimmed the excess off the overhang.  I now had a perfectly fitted floor with no discrepancy. Often times this is the procedure I follow when I want something to fit perfectly without having to be perfect.  If you choose to just cut a piece of plywood to the end measurements and screw it in place; no one would think less of you.




Roof Truss

I measured to the center of a piece of 1x4 cut to length.  Then measured 1-1/4" to each side of that mark.  From those two marks I measured 3/4" down from the top of the board.  Finally, from those two marks I drew a line to the bottom corners.

Vent Door

This is the optional vent door that is not depicted in the video.  I choose to leave this door off my final build.  I placed chicken wire on the inside of the coop.  If you built this door you would still want to place chicken wire on the inside of the coop and not on the door. 

 I would not recommend enclosing this door completely unless you had an alternate means of ventilation.  I thought about leaving a small window in the back panel but felt it was easier to integrate into one of the sides.  Of course you could always do both.

Nest Box Door

Large Side Door


Nest Box

This nest box is placed just inside the nest box door on the inside.  I find it is fine to just lay it in place.  Chickens like a little privacy to lay their eggs.  So the side panels are a must in my opinion.


Final Thoughts:


Most of the following information can probably be filed under the "no brainer" category for most.  Of course if you don't know it then it isn't a "no brainer" so here goes:

1.  As is the case with many small and mobile chicken coop designs, sacrifices have to be made.  Usually in the form of security.  This one is no different. 

2.  This chicken coop is designed with an urban setting in mind.  

3.  Predators such as a fox, coyote or even dogs can dig underneath the run area.  You could try to combat this by extending the wire completely underneath the base and run area.  Usually the wire is dug into the ground 6 to 12 inches but then the coop ceases to be mobile.

4.  Generally speaking chickens are only inside the coop at night and when laying eggs.  With that in mind I estimate the size of this coop can accommodate up to 4 chickens.  However, the run area depicted in the video is WAY to small for four chickens.  We let our chickens run the entire backyard during the day and are only enclosed in the run area when we are away.  If you intended to keep 4 chickens enclosed in a run I would recommend doubling if not tripling the run area you see in the video.  Chickens get bored just like you and me.  If that happens and their space is to small, they will start to peck each other, sometimes to death.  This is why their beaks are often times cut off in commercial operations.  

5.  Be kind to your chickens and they will be kind to you.  If you care for them, they will care for you and your family.  They will provide not just nutritious eggs but also quality entertainment.  

Much better than whatever junk is on cable TV these days.

Happy Homesteading!!


  1. WOW way cool, I do believe I will try to make this, but with plywood and a longer run. Thanks for the design.

  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    1. Hello, Yes you may as long as the images are unaltered and used in there original state and format. i must analogize. I had to remove your comment. Web links are not allowed. Sorry. Thanks.

  3. So, as a new chicken owner. I'm curious... They don't need a roost? This coop is much too short for a roost to go inside and all the other coops I've seen had roosts. What's the purpose/pluses for having them?

    1. As stated in the post this coop was built with certain factors in mind. It is always best to build a project to fit your situation. What good is it to build something that doesn't fit what you need it to fit. To answer your question, chickens "need" food, water and protection from the elements and predators. I've never heard of a chicken dropping dead because it didn't have a roost. Roosts are a chickens natural defense against predators. They look for a high place that will keep them out of harms way at night. However we are taking care of that need by providing a coop whether roosts are provided or not.

  4. Also, how do you keep the chickens from flying into another yard? Can you clip their wings? Is this necessary? Thanks

    1. A 6 foot privacy fence does wonders. Heavy breeds won't even get close to being able to get over the top. I've seen a very slender ameraucana get close but no cigar.

  5. Hi I was actually wondering if you can make a video of the chicken run

    1. Unfortunately not of the chicken run depicted in the video. It is way too small. A small chicken coop where they only lay eggs and sleep at night is one thing but during the day they need to roam. Ours were only closed in this run area for short periods of time. Otherwise they ran free in the back yard. If you wanted to keep them a majority of the time in a run I would recommend at least tripling the run space which would almost certainly necessitate a design change.

  6. Great video! How much do you estimate this project to run?

  7. Loving this little coop & run! I have 4 bantams that it will be perfect for. Am I missing something, though? I can't seem to locate the instructions for the base & run sections. Thanks!

  8. You make it look amazingly simple. Finished product is brilliant


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