Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Chicken Coop Conversion

I've been working on converting my doghouse into a chicken coop for many weeks now. Last week I finally finished. It was a challenge to customize an already existing structure and to use as many free materials as I could.

I started by elevating the structure on cinder blocks and wood I scavenged. I did this because it is my understanding that chickens like to roost off the ground and almost every coop I've seen is elevated. Raising the coop without assistance was a chore because the doghouse was pretty heavy. I used a combination of levering and my car's jack to elevate it into place. It was also a pain to get all four corners level since it is on a slight hill.

I next cut out the side to add on a nesting box. This provided a few benefits. First it made the overall size of the coop larger to comfortably accommodate more birds. Second it will allow me to gather eggs from outside the coop and soon to be added run.

The nesting box was completed with wood that I already had. The two sides were recycled from the pieces I cut from the doghouse wall. The box is very large compared to the recommended size I read and should have more than enough room for the six chickens I plan to buy.

The part that took me the most time was the removable droppings boxes. It took some time and money to figure out how to make them work. I'm satisfied with the final product. The benefits of my design are as follows. First, the screens are removable so I can clean the droppings out of the boxes. Second, the boxes are sized so I can remove them from the coop for easier cleaning. The final product is a floor that is easy to clean and prevents the chickens from walking around in their own poop.

You can see the box on the left has the removable screen on it and the one on the right doesn't.

I added a removable piece to make the doorway chicken-sized. It should help retain chicken body heat in the winter, prevent drafts and make the chickens feel more secure. I screwed in a wood block that swivels to lock the piece in place. I then added a ramp to assist the birds in entering the coop. I may need to add some more rungs.

Luckily the roof of the doghouse extended many inches to cover the nesting box add-on so I didn't have to waterproof it.

Inside I added two roosts cut to size from some dead branches I found in the forest. They are mounted using clothes-hanger-rod hardware in case I ever need to remove them or replace them. I also rounded the edges of the 2x4 rafters with a rasp to make them comfortable for roosting. Finally, I found the pretty pink paint that was left in the shed and coated the new parts.

She ain't the prettiest, but I think she'll work great. I'm currently working on the run. At first I thought of letting the chicken roam the whole fenced in yard, but I've seen too many hawks and owls around, not to mention all the predators I haven't seen and my friend's dog who likes to destroy things of mine.


fooiemcgoo said...


the poop boxes where my favorite parts.

i also like the removable door that is downsized, but allows you to take it off so you can go in there.

please add the chicken sacrifice like we talked about.

Anonymous said...

Yo its me, Aric....

That thing is awesome... When do you plan on stocking this thing up with some fat hens? What breed of hens to use? How many? Whats the yield going to be per year as far as eggs with a henhouse sized such as this?

Now all you need is an American Quarter Horse and an old Colt "Peacemaker" and you should be set.

Sassmouth said...

Aric, I'm nearly finished with the run. After that I will be ready to buy some hens. I'm thinking about getting 8 now that I've seen how big the run is going to be. I'm not too concerned about the breed. I'm going to get what's available in the area on craigslist. If I get 8 hens I will probably have up to 8 eggs a day depending on the breed.

No horse, but I have the colt already. :)

backcountrybowhunter said...

Awesome! I have been really wanting to get some chickens for a while now, and clicked on your link from my blog and, well, it's good to know that I am not crazy in wanting chickens I guess! Good work on the conversion!