I’ve decided to get into backyard chickens. A friend from work has gotten WAY into raising his own chickens, and I thought it sounded like a cool way to get slightly more “green” and self-sufficient. The chickens can eat lots of household kitchen waste, and provide healthy and tasty organic eggs.
I went with plans from Catawba Coops. The plans cost $20 and you get the plans, a booklet about convincing your neighbors and local government that chickens are good, and a Google SketchUp file of the coop in various stages of completion.
The plans have a fairly detailed cutlist, but I should have read the whole thing before starting, there are a few options mentioned in the text that is not apparent looking at the parts or cut list. A table saw would have been nice. But all you really need is a miter saw, jigsaw (might be able to get away without it), drill, hammer, and a tape measure.
The plans dependence on 2×2 lumber is kind of a problem for me. No matter how careful you are, you’ll split some boards, and you can only really get 1 screw into most of the joints. I redid parts of it with 2×4 lumber which didn’t add much weight, but it feels more sturdy. I still ended up pre-drilling and recessing every screw, a drill with a variable clutch is a real help. I also made some modifications. Since I was on a deadline, I made one of the side doors non-removable, and made one of the end doors fence instead of solid lumber. And, I’ll end up having to clamp the side door that is removable until the lumber dries, as it’s starting to warp a little.
The biggest failing of the plans for me is that the text doesn’t give you a lot of detail, but between the SketchUp file, the plans, and some creative deduction it’s not too difficult.
If I had to do it over again, there are several tweaks I might consider, but all-in-all it’s worked out pretty well so far. And, it really does look awesome. It’s something that no neighbor can complain that it doesn’t look good. Next year after the wood is seasoned, I’ll stain it to match my house or deck.