Friday, November 22, 2013

Cattle Panel Chicken Coop - Part 1

Several years ago, Josiah and I visited a friend's farm in Kentucky.  We were impressed with his chicken houses.  They were simple, quick to construct and easy to care for.  He was raising pastured chickens to butcher and sell - and others for eggs.  He had quite a few of these and was more than willing to share the "how to" information.

Last year we created one of our own.  The boys built ours for under $100.  We had a few of the things already but if you shopped carefully and watched for sales I think anyone could build one for right around $100.

I have a few pictures of the work in progress which I will post today, along with instructions.  Then you will get the grand tour of the finished product and some of the extras we installed to make our lives a little easier!

The basic plan for this coop is to use 2x6 boards on the sides and 2x4 boards on the front and back frame.  Josiah made his own modifications so I can't guarantee this is what he did.

You need to lay out your lumber and attach the 2 cattle panels to the 2x6s with 1.5 inch heavy duty fence staples.  IMPORTANT!  Be sure the ribs of the cattle panels are against the wood so you can attach the tarp (will get there shortly) with cable ties which will need to fit between the wood and the cattle panels.

You will then push the sides together which will cause the cattle panels to form a hoop. Then attach the front and back 2x4s. Here the boys have pushed the sides together and are working on adding the back board.

Here the front board is in place and additional support has been added in each corner.  This gives it stability as you pull it from place to place.  Josiah has also framed up an area for a door.

Here is a closeup of the corner supports.
This is a set of nesting boxes that I picked up for a song at a wonderful thrift store in Asheville, NC. We keep it full of hay and as long as we are diligent in keeping the hay clean, washing eggs rarely needs to happen.  The boards fold up and cover the entrances to the next boxes.  This keeps our girls out of the nests at night and helps to keep those nests clean.
 Hay going into the boxes!

Here is some additional support at the back.  This was not how our friend did it but he had a different set up for his nesting boxes.  Josiah is doing this so he can attach our nesting boxes to the support in the back of the coop and keep the boxes up off of the ground!

Did you know chickens could be afraid of heights? Evidently our hens are...silly girls!  Rarely do we find one in the top row of nests but it isn't unusual to find two hens sharing a nesting box on the bottom row. 

Josiah and Elijah then covered the coop with 1" heavy duty chicken wire.  This keeps our girls inside when we need them to be and keeps predators out..especially at night!  We've had a lot of coyotes this year - two almost every night! And we are seeing a lot of  foxes even in the day time!  Add to that our regular tussle with coons and opossums and you can see why we are working hard to keep our ladies safe!

Be sure to bend the ends of cut wires over that might pose a danger to your girls.  This took some time for the boys to make sure there weren't any places that might cut one of our hens if she brushed up against it.

Once the chicken wire was in place,  Josiah and Elijah covered the back of the coop with a tarp.  They then folded another tarp in half and put it over the back half of the "roof" of the coop.  We left it that way for the summer.  This provided wonderful ventilation but also some protection from rain.

Once the chill winds and lower temps began, we unfolded that top tarp so it covered the entire roof of the coop to keep them dry and warm.

Next post we'll take a tour of the inside of the finished coop!  Let me know if you have questions...I wish there were more pictures but the boys got busy building and the camera was forgotten!



  1. I've made one of these for myself and helped my friend do one. I've even kept birds in it during an Ohio winter. Mine is now 4 years old, and I've only have had to replace tarp and repair my door. I'd love tips on making them easier to move, though.

  2. Thank you for sharing this - I have everything already here on the farm except for tarps, so I'm feeling inspired! Looking forward to seeing some photos with the tarps in place and all ;) Thanks again!

  3. We just got an autumn batch of baby chicks so they will be in our basement under lights for a while, but I want one of these for them in the spring. Thanks for taking the time to post how your son did his.

  4. Thank you so much for sharing this!


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