3.01.2012

DIY Chicken Coop or Chicken Tractor Plans

Several springs ago, as some of you recall, my kids and I built a chicken coop using these plans.




It worked really well for us as the building plans included step-by-step instructions and we were really proud of the outcome.

Then our chickies grew and grew and outgrew their coop. This was my fault as I kept buying new baby chickies. So we retro-fitted the creamery and moved the hens into it. As winter storms blew in (well just one, back in November, but it was a doozy), we were glad that the hens weren't in the Catawaba Coop as it would not have sustained them during the arctic out-flows that we endure here. So, cautionary note #1: don't build this if you get significant windchill in your winters and if you are in an exposed area or open country. The plans are much more suited for urban use.

I spent the winter thinking that the coop was built for naught (though we had a great time and learned a lot about building). Then last week I bought off of Craigslist three grown hens and the Coop became useful again. I don't know what I would have done without it as it provides perfect housing for new birds. They spent several days inside of it and all the hens had henny sqaubbles through the fenced sides. When that died down, I let them out and they are slowly starting to integrate with the flock.

We also have 5 baby chicks in the chickery right now, and they too will use the Catawaba Coop when they are ready to move outside. I'll raise it up a bit on one end so that they can scoot in and out but the big bully hens cannot. This will allow the pullets the joy of yard-grazing and provide a safe haven.

If you are looking to build chicken housing, and if you can keep yourself from buying more than 4 chickies (good luck with that), you can't go wrong with the Catawaba Coop plans, with these caveats:
  • buy 1 more length of 1x4 than called for.
  • skip the whole angle iron business and simple get some 1x1 from the trim department.
  • skip the difficult-to-cut and easily-split shims and find something to substitute in the trim department.
  • if you live in the Pacific Northwest, make sure that any part that will touch the ground is cedar
I did notice that the current plans have been updated from when I bought them. These concerns may have been addressed in the update.