It is important when choosing what to house your chickens in that you pick a place that you will not outgrow too quickly. This post will walk you through how to convert a shed into a chicken coop.
Raising chickens is an addiction. Sure you start out with two or three, but then before you know it you have a whole flock running around your yard.
If you want to let your hens free-range, you need to be careful where you put your coop. Chickens poo, a lot and they do it anywhere they want without any concern for us barefoot walking people.
In no time at all, walking through the grass is like navigating a minefield especially if you are in bare feet! So choose carefully…that is all I am going to say on that. Ahem.
We used to house our pigs in a 10 x 13-foot shed, but as we soon found out raising pigs is an addiction as well and we outgrew that shed rather quickly.
The good news is I could use the shed as our new chicken coop. The bad news is it was in the wrong spot and needed to be moved to the other side of the property. That task alone was a day-long event.
Actually, all in all, the whole project took a week. One day to “de-pig” the shed (AKA, shovel, hose, scrape, hose, sweep and hose once more), one day to move it, one day to build the inside pen and two days to build the run. Luckily the cost was minimal. $25 in lumber and $15 in chicken wire. The rest of the materials we had on hand already.
I pride myself in repurposing anything and everything I can. To me, functionality is number one rather than looks, much to Handy Man’s dismay.
So back to the topic. I like to do things in steps and I think it is easier to read them that way as well.
Step by step guide to converting a shed into a chicken coop.
Step #1. Pick the perfect spot for your coop because you won’t be moving it anytime soon!
First like I said we needed to move the shed to the other side of the property. Handy Man was in charge of pulling with the tractor while his brother repositioned logs underneath the shed to help it move easier and do less damage to our yard.
Somehow I think Handy Man got the easier part of this job.
Let me stop here to say that choosing the right spot took DAYS to decide. I knew I had one shot here, there was no way Hubs was going to move that shed a second time. I finally decided to put the shed in-between the garden and the barn was the best spot. This would keep the hens away from my other animals, yet close enough for easier chores and maintenance of the coop and flock.
Remember, chickens can quickly and quite efficiently destroy a newly planted garden or flower bed in record time so taking precautions is advised. With that being said, chickens are a dream at breaking up a garden in the spring so for that reason alone I like them to have easy access.
As long as you have an efficient fence on the outer chicken run you will be fine housing your hens next to your garden. If you free-range, then you will want to fence your garden in to keep your hens out.
Step #2. Set up the interior
When you set up your coop you need to make sure you have room for a roost, feeder, water, and nesting boxes. A hen needs 2-3 square feet inside of the coop and 8-10 outside. Keep this in mind when choosing the size of your coop for your flock’s size now and for any future growth, you may have as well.
If room allows I suggest an area for storage to make feeding time easier but this is not necessary. When our flock was smaller we housed the food in our coop, now we keep all the food in a feed room inside of our barn. Yes, that means I need to bring all the supplies with me each time I do chores in both the winter and the summer. Again, something to keep in mind when choosing the location of your coop.
Step #3. Construct a wall and door
Once we had the shed settled in its spot, my wonderful father who was visiting us on vacation stepped in to do the interior renovations. He built a framed wall with a door that was all covered in chicken wire.
The outer area is usually where I keep the bedding and feed, but right now it is housing my older hens at night while the babies are in the coop and run.
NOTE: We have since extended the inside of the coop since our flock doubled in size. (see I told you, addiction). This is important to note. Hens require 2-3 square feet each and you will want to keep this in mind especially if your flock grows like ours did.
When you build your coop it is important to make sure you have enough room for all your birds to prevent hen-pecking.
Step #4. Have safe access to your outside run.
The next step was to get a door in for the chickens to access the outside run. Remember the main purpose of your chicken coop is to keep your flock safe. Not only do you want to make sure your hens can’t get out unless you want them too, but you also want to be sure that nothing can get in that may harm them.
By installing a door to the outside run you can completely close things off at night keeping any nocturnal predators out and away from your precious flock.
Hubs happened to have a doggie door in the basement that would work perfectly for our chicken coop.
I have no idea why he had this, but I don’t ask I just use. My dad cut a hole in the back corner and installed the doggie door.
The chickens took to that door right away and it has really worked well all these years. Easy to let the hens in and out and secure enough to keep them safe each evening. It does let in a bit of cold, but we have since learned to insulate for the winter and that has helped quite a bit.
Step #5. Put in your nesting boxes.
I suggest doing this first since your nesting boxes are going to be the biggest item in your coop. A nesting box is where you chickens will lay their eggs. You will want to have a slightly private area yet make it easy for your hens to get into. Don’t worry too much about height, hens can fly and will easily be able to “jump” up to a box that is off the ground a bit.
When choosing the location for your nesting boxes you will want to place them in a spot that is free from drafts, rain, and snow. A corner may work for your set up or off to the side as we do in our own coop. Know the direction of the wind so you can choose the best location for your nesting boxes.
I like to keep mine close to the door so it is easier to collect eggs.
Want to make your own? You can see how we did it using what we had on hand.
Step #6. Add some roosts for your chickens.
Next, we needed to build and install our roosts for our hens to sleep on at night.
Chickens prefer to be up off of the ground at night. It is their instinct to do so and helps them to feel safe after dark. For this reason, you will want a roost that is large enough to hold all of your hens. You can use a multi-leveled roost or one straight piece, whatever you have the room for in your coop.
We built two with scrap pieces of wood both that are ladder-shaped and hold the girls quite well.
We used the ladder system for many years but have since moved to a one leveled border-style run that frees up a lot more space in the chicken coop. Overcrowding can cause hen pecking in a flock, something we try hard to avoid. By freeing up plenty of space in the coop we have cut down on aggression with our hens.
You can read all about chicken roosts here for tips on spacing and construction.
Step #7. Hang your water and feeder.
I highly recommend hanging both your waterer and your feeder as this really cuts down on waste.
Chickens like to scratch all the time and when they do they kick up bedding that can get tossed into their water or feed. Scratching is how chickens forage for food in the ground. Whether it be outside or in. Scratching is when chickens use their feet to rake at the ground to uncover bugs, worms, and bits of discarded food.
By raising the height of their feed and water it will help to keep both free of debris and dirt. Try to choose a height that is easy for them to reach without having to stretch too much. I like to keep things about 8-10 inches off the ground for full-grown hens.
In the summer I use a plastic hanging waterer but with the frigid cold temperatures of winter, I prefer to use a thick rubber water bowl. Water freezes quite easily in the winter and the plastic waterers tend to crack easily when this happens. By using the thicker water bowls I can easily bend it to break up the ice and fill it with fresh water.
You can see why in How To Winterize Your Chicken Coop.
Step #9. Build an outdoor run.
Even if you plan to free-range your chickens I still highly suggest you build a run as well.
Chickens still like to be outside at dusk and dawn when it’s starting or still is dark.
There are quite a few predators out at that time so having a safe outdoor chicken run for them to browse in is a good idea.
Make sure to include access to the run from outside. Our run needs maintenance quite often so easy access is key.
Step #10. Bring in your chickens!
At this point, the birds could be moved in until Handy Man could build the outside run. They were quite happy with their new digs and quickly made themselves at home.
CONVERTING A SHED INTO A CHICKEN COOP SUPPLY LIST
- Chicken Wire – Be sure to get a good sturdy wire that will keep your chickens in and predators out.
- Plastic Chicken Waterer – This one works great if your weather is mild.
- Metal Chicken Waterer – Better for winter months.
- Chicken Feeder – This feeder works great and will last the longest.
- Bedding – I prefer wood shavings because it really soaks up the moisture.
- Doggie Door – A great way to let the chickens in and out quickly and easily.
And here is the final product. Little did I know 8 years ago when we bought this shed for our boy’s 4H projects that it would someday be a chicken house for our hens. It’s funny how things evolve on a farm. 🙂
Why is it so important to have a strong, sturdy and safe home for your chickens? For many reasons and one of them being so, you can leave knowing your animals will be safe while you are away.
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