Friday, May 4, 2012

How we built The Chicken Barn

What a journey it has been building our chicken coop, which we have nicknamed... 
"The Chicken Barn"!  

Confession time...

Last year, I won a chicken coop package at the Seattle Tilth Harvest Fair.  I was thrilled! However, I had already seen The Garden Coop and knew it was the "right" coop for me.  I decided to return the coop and build the one I had my heart set on.  The plans estimate the cost around $800, but we spent over $1000 in building the coop the way we wanted.  And, being the first coop in our neighborhood... we wanted our neighbors to think it looked nice too.

Blaine and I have very limited wood working knowledge, but he studied the plans for some time and we worked through each section, step-by-step and it worked out great.  We highly recommend this coop design.  These plans are such a great bargain!  We did make modifications to the plans and they are noted throughout this post.  We used ALOT of different sized screws.  I am visual, so lots of pictures here.

It took three 3-4 day weekends to get it done.  We were especially thankful for fair spring weather in Seattle.  All I have left to do is apply one more coat of Vermont Natural Coatings Barn Red to the henhouse and it's finished!

Our completed Chicken coop and girls enjoying garden living!

I decided on a traditional American Barn color theme for our chicken coop, so after acquiring Barn Red for the henhouse I discovered Benjamin Moore's Arborcoat in solid white.

Once the framing was in place, it was a good time for us to paint.

Installing the hardware cloth was labor intensive.

We also choose to only put our hardware cloth 10 inches into the ground so both halves could be secured with poultry staples to the wood framing (instead of wiring together).  We overlapped the 2 sections of hardware cloth and stapled them on the horizontal board height below my husband's hand in this photo.  We also plan to place hardware cloth flat on the ground around the chicken coop (and wire it to the coop at the base) and have it extend out 12 inches.  Installing the hardware cloth in the ground and out from the coop should keep all predators out.

We found 1/2 inch 4 ft x 50 ft roll (for a great price) at McLendon's Hardware.

I love this stain.  The color is beautiful.  Vermont Natural Coatings Exterior Stain is a little tricky working with it in Seattle in the spring.  It needs to be 65-80 degrees when it's applied and no rain for 2 days afterwards to allow it to cure properly.  

*I did apply this with a Purdy paint brush.  I was able to wash out the brush after doing the external nesting box, but it was unsalvageable after 1 coat on the henhouse.  It does dry quickly on the paint brush.  The good news is that it only requires one hour before recoating, so you can usually finish one coat and begin another immediately (but it was getting late in the day and the weather wasn't in my favor to do so).

I did have to order this color directly from the company (as this color is not available in the Seattle area), but the shipping was really reasonable.

Our window is a 10x18 transom (aluminum - shed) window that I ordered online, as I couldn't find anything locally.  This is how Blaine did the framing to install the window (seen from the inside of the henhouse looking out).

Closer view of the external nesting box with lock.  

We decided to use roofing shingles to finish the top of the box.

This is the ramp to the hen door.  The ladder slats are extra fence board cut into approximately 3/4" wide strips and screwed onto the plywood from underneath.

Front of the hen house  with the hen door open.  

This is what it looks like during the day when the girls are out in the coop or in the garden...

Front of the hen house with the human access and hen access doors closed.  
We have latches to secure both doors.

This is also a good picture showing that instead of 4" cedar fence boards, we chose 6".  We really like the look of the wider boards.

Both the human and hen access doors open.

Human door is 29 1/2" wide and the hen door is 15 1/2" wide

This view shows you the inner plywood wall of the henhouse (window wall).
To keep the chickens from pecking at the window, we installed hardware cloth on the outside of the inner plywood wall (this way the girls don't try pecking at the poultry staples).  Works great and the girls LOVE seeing out.  

*We cut the plywood wall window opening larger than the window itself, so it doesn't  interfere with the view through the window (looking in from the outside).  I think it was approximately 1 1/2 inches larger on each side.

This is a mezzanine level platform we saw on The Garden Coop blog and shared by Dan.  Visit his blog, From Our Garden to check it out!

You'll notice in this picture that we installed 2x2s for roosts for our girls.  We had a friend stop by to see our coop who told us that these can cause a foot condition that cannot be treated and we really needed to find branches for the roosts instead.  Thankful to learn this now!

The view from the mezzanine toward the henhouse.

Newly installed BRANCH roost!

We currently have one branch roost installed in the henhouse and need to add another

View of the mezzanine and roosts.  This platform was designed to reduce injury to chickens jumping down from high roosts and give multiple "hang out" choices for the girls.

You'll also notice where the henhouse ladder descends to.  This setup works really well.

Thanks for stopping by to check out The Chicken Barn!  We highly recommend utilizing The Garden Coop plans and make your coop your own.  

From Blaine, myself, Atti, Bo Peep, Sussy and Little Red ~ 
Happy Backyard Chicken Keeping!

May you be blessed abundantly.


  1. Hey guys, great coop! I really like the natural roosts in the corner. Was the concern with the 2x2" because of the sharp edges? I've had one more hen come down with bumblefoot since adding our mezzanine, but I think it's because we left the inside henhouse door open and she would "fly" down from it.

    And thanks for mentioning our blog! I'll be checking on yours!

    1. Dan ~

      Because we're new to chickens, I don't know exactly what the specific concern is. Our friend has been keeping chickens for a while and more experienced chicken owners shared their concerns about the 2x2s as roosts and the effect they can have on chicken feet (when our friend first starting keeping chickens). It doesn't have to do with the sharp edges, but about a condition developing on the bottom of their feet....which sounds like the bumblefoot you've mentioned in your comment. In the wild, chickens would not have access to a 2x2 or a 2x4 ~ but would have roosted on tree or shrub branches and sat on them with a more rounded hold. That said, I've seen lots of positive comments about those board sized working well for their chickens.

      So, we're going with the advice we've been given for now. But, as you know ~ things can always change in chicken keeping. If the natural roosts don't work out, we always have the 2x2s in the garage to try again...

      I enjoy your blog, as well!

  2. How proud you must be to have completed your projects.
    Bet the chickens are thrilled.
    Hope the neighbors are, too! :)


Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts! Abundant blessings on your day... Joanie