Backyard chicken coops are becoming increasingly popular. Many cities now allow homeowners to have a small number of hens in their yards, so families can enjoy fresh eggs. Building a coop and a run for chickens is fairly easy. One great way to keep down the cost of building a coop is to utilise an existing shed. If you have a metal shed in your backyard and some simple building materials, you can easily adapt all or part of it into a chicken coop and run.
Cut four 2-by-4 posts so they reach from the floor of the shed to the top of the shed walls. These will be the corner posts of your coop.
Set two of the 2-by-4 posts vertically into the corners of the part of the shed that you will use for the coop, securing it to the frame of the shed with screws for structural support.
Screw in the other 2-by-4s about 3 feet from the corner posts on opposite walls, creating a rectangular area. In this example, the shed is 8 by 8 feet, and the coop will be 8 by 3 feet.
Nail 2-by-4s horizontally to the inside of the vertical posts about 2 or 3 feet off the floor, so that they connect the four posts, creating a frame for your coop floor. Nail one 2-by-4 across the middle of the 8-foot sections to support the floor. If your coop is 8 by 3 feet, you will need three 3-foot sections and two 8-foot sections.
Measure the floor of your coop by getting the exact dimensions of the area inside the four vertical posts. Cut a piece of plywood to make the floor of your coop.
Nail or screw the floor piece to the vertical floor framing so that the plywood lies flat within the posts, creating the floor. You should now have a floor for the coop secured within four upright posts.
Frame the top of the coop by nailing 2-by-4s horizontally around the top of the vertical posts in the same manner that you framed the floor. Again, you will need three 3-foot pieces and two 8-foot pieces.
Nail one nesting box per two chickens along the back edge of the coop floor, against the shed wall. Each nesting box should be about 10-by-12-by-12 inches.
Nail poultry screen to the top of your coop. In cold weather, place blankets or other insulation on top of the poultry fencing, while allowing some ventilation in the hot weather.
Construct a door for the front of the coop, framing screen or hardware cloth to fit over a 4-foot section of the front of the coop. Attach the door with hinges to the top or side frame of the coop, depending on how you want the door to open. Attach a hook and eye opposite the hinges to secure the door closed.
Nail poultry fencing or screen over the rest of the coop.
Make sure there is plenty of ventilation in your shed, that your chickens have access to fresh water and food, and that there is insulation around the coop during cold months. The door will give you access to clean the coop, to change food and water, and to let the chickens out to run around in the shed, if desired. Chickens do best if they can run outside in good weather. Take this construction project another step and put a hole in your shed wall and add a plank for your chickens to exit and enter on.