DIY Chicken Coop

I’m so proud of my coop. I have had a hard time adjusting to the fact that the chickens are pooping all over it. I knew they would do that, but it hasn’t made all the poop any easier. All in the name of fresh eggs, right?
I had a few things in mind when I started. I want the coop to be portable so that I could move it around the yard and not kill the grass in any one spot. I also wanted it to be totally enclosed, so that I could leave the birds in it if I needed to for a long time and not feel bad, as in go on vacation and feel like they would still be happy in their home. I also wanted to have a way for the ladies to access the yard on days I wanted them to roam around.
I spent around 18 hours building it and would say I did 83% of the work by myself. Thomas only helped me with the roof which I was struggling with. I am so glad that I did this project. This was my first real experience with power tools which I was previously nervous around. Now I have gained great confidence in my ability to build things and I can start on other projects of this type that I’ve been wanting to do for a while. Thomas isn’t the only engineer in the family, huh?
The finished coop is about 3.5 feet wide and 6 feet tall. The white door here is the access door to the nesting boxes. It allows easy access to where the birds lay so that the kids can help collect the eggs. The door is from the old kitchen cabinets.
chicken coop plans

This side of the coop is where the birds can access the yard when I want them to. The little door at the bottom can be opened during the day so that they can roam. Again, the door was part of the kitchen cabinets.

chicken coop plans, portable coop. portable chicken coop
The string that you see here is attached to the ramp that lets the ladies access the top of the coup from the bottom. I wanted the top area to be able to be closed off at night to help keep the ladies safe and to help keep the cold out in the winter. The ramp is hinged, so when I pull on the string it pulls the ramp up and closes off the top area.
DIY Chicken Coop plans
DIY Chicken Coop plans
DIY Chicken Coop plans

And I bet you didn’t see this coming! This is why I needed help with the roof: it hinges open. I wanted easy access to the top to clean it out and to change their food and water.

DIY Chicken Coop plans, portable chicken coop

Here are the three nesting boxes. The white at the back is the door that opens to gather the eggs.

Chickens like to sleep sitting on a stick, which is called roosting. I wanted the birds to have a natural roost (not just a board) and so I used a stick from our apple tree. I’m excited to see them sitting on it. Won’t that be cute? And here is my string to pull up the ramp.

I put on some snazzy boards that stick out on each end at the handles to carry the coop.

After I took a few pictures I filled the top with straw in hopes of keeping things a little cleaner. I plan on changing the straw as needed. So far the straw seems to be working and they like to poke around in it.

Here is a picture of some of the cabinets that I used which used to live in my kitchen. Why did we tear this out again? If you are new here, you can check out our crazy remodel under the “Our Biggest Mess” tab at the top.

The rest of the wood came from the house too. The green boards were above the ceiling in our living room and kitchen. Here they are in the house.

Thomas is a saver, but I was the one who was packing all the boards out to the barn and pulling out the nails. I thought he was a crazy man at the time, but now I’m so glad he insisted on saving lots. Wood is expensive!
Here’s the breakdown of what I paid for the coop:
20 feet of plastic roofing: $47
10 feet of chicken wire: $6.50
7ish pounds of screws: $8
2 locking clasps for the doors: $5.50
Straw : $4
Wood: Free(ish) We did pay for the house…
Total out-of-pocket cost for me: $71
I’ll be honest. I was shocked at how much the roofing jazz was and I spent a lot more than planned. Still cheaper than the coop at IFA that was half the size and a little over $500 with tax.
And since I’m in a numbers mood here’s the rest of what I’ve spent on my birds:
5 chicks from IFA: $15
3 chicks from a friend: Free
Waterer: $3
Feeder: $2
Chick starter (food for very young chicks): $10
Egg laying mash (what they eat now): $16
Heat lamp: $10
Bulb for heat lamp: $10
Total: $66
Plus the coup: $71
Grand total: $137
And just because we can:
I buy fresh eggs for $2 a dozen right now. It will take 70 dozen eggs to recoup my cost. Chickens lay an average of 20 dozen eggs in their life time, so I should get around 140 dozen eggs from these birds (I am 99% sure one is a him, so I only have seven that will lay). Once you add in the continuing cost of food and electricity to use the heat lamp I should gain my money back sometime next year.

There you have it. The coop and what it costs to start raising a small brood of chickens. Wasn’t that fun? Who else wants their own chickens now?

I really want to paint a sign to hang on the coop that says something, but I just can’t figure out what it should say. Something about chickens or eggs, obviously. Any ideas?

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34 Responses
  1. Ann B.

    You are amazing! Way to go Melissa. If I could have chickens I would do this. You make it seem much less difficult than I would have thought!

  2. Now I want chickens even more!! Though we currently live in a suburb that does not allow chickens, the city adjacent to us does. 😉 We’re thinking we might move there. How great to know that you can save so much? I was anticipating a cost of at least $250.

    Out of curiosity, what made you decide to go with chicks rather than pullets? Great work!

    1. The bird I got from the store were pullets, I think. That means a girl chick right? I bought girls from the store and they said that they were right about the gender 90% of the time. The ones from my friend weren’t sexed, and the one male was from her batch. I hope you can get some, we are just loving them!

      1. Ginny Hickman

        Hi Melissa! I’m really enjoying your blog! We also keep chickens. Pullets are older females, about to start laying. We have raised chicks for the kids to have the experience, but after that first time, we switched to pullets. It is better economically, since we don’t need a light, or to keep them inside, or to feed them for 4 months. We usually start getting eggs with a week or 2 at the most. And there is less loss due to death than with chicks.

    2. Renee

      Melissa what a great job and I am going to use your coop ad the guide to building my own chicken coop. I hope my coop turns out half as amazing as yours.

  3. I have never toured a chicken coup before and I loved it. Did you take your design inspiration from the Indiana Jones 1st movie from the Arc of the Covenant. Can you please call it the Arc of the Coup-ernant? Yes, i am cracking myself up even as I type.

    There are so many convenient design features built in. I loved loved the string opening and so nice of you to include a natural stick for sleeping. And so proud that you are still counting 10 after your first power tool adventures. May this be the first of many building projects!

  4. Leah

    I love the way the top opens. I am hoping to revamp my coop at some point. Great idea! I love my chickens and it looks like we have a few birds of the same feather.

  5. Jamye

    I have to say, planting a garden and having some far animals seemed so impossible, but coming across your blog has put it in a new light for me. I look forward to owning my own home and being able to do this!

    I like your term “hobby snob”. I feel like I can relate to that term, at least in books for now. One day, hopefully soon, I can pursue the things that I would love for my family & interest. All good things!

  6. I enjoyed this blog. It brought back memories of my favorite aunt and uncle who had a chicken coop with a ladder walk up for the hens and a yard for them to be outside in. It was covered of course. I loved this and look forward to more of your ideas.

  7. Eryn Harlow

    Great article! Thanks for sharing this. I just got half a dozen chicks yesterday and have been doing some research on them and how to build a coop (which brought me here). I got to the part about re-coop-ing 😉 your initial investment and that chickens in their life-time will only lay on average 20 dozen eggs. It struck me as an odd number to come up with, and I thought your readers may like to know that the average eggs lain highly depends on the breed of your birds and though most commercial egg producers have a very short life span of only a year and a half to 2 years old, chickens can live until they are 10 years old and still produce eggs (at a MUCH lower rate, but it is still possible). So if you are looking for higher egg-producing birds, you are likely to get a return of 25 dozen eggs in their first year alone. Here is a great article with little more information about this:

    Good luck with your flock 🙂

    1. Thanks Eryn! Now that we’ve had hens for over 2 years I think that you are totally right! Our happy healthy hens produce really really well. I got that number about of a book while I was doing research and I do think it’s a little skewed (or a lot!), so thanks for taking the time to comment. If your hens have room to grow, plenty to eat, and are happy then I know you’ll get tons and tons of eggs too. What kind of chickens did you get?! Getting your first egg is so so exciting. You are going to LOVE IT!

  8. Erica

    Hi Eryn! This is great. I am looking forward to building this and keeping my own chickens 🙂 I was wondering if you had a blueprint or plan for the coop you built. It would be so helpful as I start this project. Thanks!

  9. Whitney

    Hi Melissa, I absolutely adore your blog that I just recently came across. I’m in the process of deciding what I want on my “tiny farm”. I’m planning on building a tiny house (no kiddos yet, so I can get away with it hehe), with an adjacent greenhouse that will have a large aquaponics garden (so I can grow veggies AND trout for food in a very sustainable way). Along with that I plan to have a few alpacas for fiber (I’m obsessed with everything yarn and alpacas have great fiber and they are just so stinkin cute!) last but least to round out my “earn their keep” pets is chickens. I’ll be getting my first batch of 6 this spring and am starting to look into coops which is how I came across your site. I adore your coop, it seems to have all the perfect essentials for having a few chickens. Out of curiously what are the approximate dimensions? to have the 4sq feet per chicken I always got bulky dimensions and yours looks like a great size to give enough room to the chickens, but small enough to move around.

    1. My coup is about 4.5 feet wide and maybe 7 feet long. Not huge but it worked well. I have 6 hens right now too and I really felt like they needed more room. Did you see the post where we added a run of sorts – This is a really nice size in conjunction with the coup for the 6 hens. When I had more than that they picked on each other a bit. I like to let them free range a lot but that just isn’t always possible in the winter so it was just better to let them have more space. You will LOVE chickens!!! And I’m totally jealous of your aquaponics. It’s on our some day list 🙂 I think I’m going to make some raised beds for strawberries this year too at our new property! Such a productive hobby isn’t it! So great to connect and I hope you’ll send me a picture of your coup when you get it!

      1. Whitney

        I did see your run! It looks great, I’m doing a run as well, but it’s going to be very portable (pvc pipe mostly ) so I can move it to different parts of my yard on a daily basis.
        I’ve reserved my chicks so I’ll officially be a chicken owner of Friday! So excited! I’ll try to post pics of then and my coop 🙂
        Aquaponics is great! I have my “little” setup of 150 gallons and can’t wait to have an actual greenhouse. Right now my kale and spinach are growing like weeds… It’s a nice problem to have.
        And the whole not ever having to water or weed is nice too 😛

  10. Elizabeth

    I love your mobile chicken coop! We are looking to build something similar for our hens to use during the day when we pasture them. I am curious to know if it really turned out light enough to move?
    Thanks for any suggestions!

    1. Melissa

      We lugged this thing around for about 3 years and it has sat in the same spot in a large run in our orchard for another 3 years. It’s so heavy, but we dealt with it. That being said, we are looking at getting something much more mobile to put our hens in your alfalfa field to be moved more often.

  11. Elizabeth

    I love reading about your home and farm. We also have a small farm–and are new to it. We currently have 9 chickens in a stationary coop/run set up, but we let them free range during the day. Unfortunately we have lost 4 this summer to a fox! I want to build a semi mobile chicken coop and detached mobile run, and I keep coming back to your sweet design. So, it was difficult to move, but how difficult? I am afraid to start building because I don’t want it to be too heavy to move! How many hens ended up fitting in the coop?

    1. Melissa

      I’m so sorry to hear about the loss, that’s so hard! I had 6 in this cook comfortably. I ended up enclosing a big area in our orchard and leaving the coop there, open so that all the hens can go in and out and I have 17 that use it right now. Though some sleep in the nesting boxes because they don’t all fit in the roost. It wasn’t so heavy that it was impossible but we definitely got annoyed with the process, though for the price I’d say it was worth it. I’d love to see picture of what you end up with!

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Bless This Mess - About Me

I’m Melissa, and I want to help you feed your family wholesome food.

As a hobby farmer and mom of five, I’m all about keeping it simple in the kitchen. I want healthy meals that feed my family well, and then I want to get back to my (messy) life. Let’s work together to find something yummy for your dinner table.

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