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Fall 2015 - Page 9 Build a Chicken Coop

COMING HOME TO ROOST A ramp for the hens connects the lower cage to the hen house. You can use OSB or plywood to construct the ramp, which is just over a foot wide and 52" long. We added 8" slats to act as steps, using leftover 1" x 8" cedar from our planter box. The slats are evenly spaced, attached with 1" finishing nails. You can also add a 33" roost pole for the chickens to sit on. We made ours out of 1" poplar dowel, a choice that has proven popular. BUILDING THE COOP (LOWER CAGE) The lower cage measures 60" x 60". You first build a top frame and then a bottom frame, joining them with 40" vertical supports. You then use four 29" lengths to create a lip on which your top frame rests. Last, you'll use your 57" lengths to cross-brace the top frame. Note that weve added wheels to our coop by using 68" lengths (rather than 60") on two sides of the bottom frame; the wheels mount into the 4" lengths that extend beyond the frame. The front door is a full-width frame, attached with hardware of your choice. You may need to countersink extra deep to achieve a solid connection, or use joiners. The final step is stapling your hardware cloth or chicken wire. BUILDING THE HEN HOUSE The first step is cutting the flooring to size. When you're cutting the 14" x 14" hole for the hen ramp, you'll save your cutout to make into a plug to keep chickens, roosters, and/or baby chicks in or out of the hen house. Next comes the hen house frame, for which we used primarily 2 x 2s to keep the weight down. You'll build a bottom frame, attach vertical supports, and cut your siding. We used notched siding, cut with a long straight edge and a circular saw. You can use screws or a nail gun to attach the siding. Then, youll frame the front and back doors. We recommend attaching 2 x 4s on the interior of each doorway to provide extra support for the hinges and latches. Now youre ready to build and attach the hen boxeswhere the hens will lay the eggs, which you will collect via the back door. The lower hen box nails into the floor; the upper box nails into supports. Once your hen boxes are installed, its time to attach the final piece of siding, and build and assemble the front and back doors. The front door window is covered with hardware cloth. You'll attach both doors using hinge-and-latch hardware of your choice.

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