Free Downeast Thunder Farm Chicken Coop Plans

The coop flower box - let's hope they don't eat the flowers!The chicken coop project is finished! I like to think that we’ve built this like Fort Knox. We have plenty of predators that would love to make a meal of our hens: eagles, hawks, fox, bear, bobcat, weasels, coyotes, racoons, and more that I probably don’t want to know about (Like the rat I recently discovered! Eeeewwww.).

Here are some of the features of this little coop we built.

  • 4′ x 8′ footprint – the size of a piece of plywood to make things easy
  • the chicken yard is 8′ x 12′ with chicken wire buried 2′ deep to discourage predators from digging under
  • deer netting over the top of the chicken run
  • a locked outside door for egg collection (and peeking at the girls)
  • clean out door
  • north facing opening windows covered with chicken wire for added security
  • south facing stationary windows to allow a little sun in the winter
  • electricity at the coop for an outside motion sensor flood light
  • electric receptacle inside for the winter water heating pad
  • inside wiring is in steel conduit and steel electrical boxes so the birds cannot peck through the wire insulation
  • switches and receptacles have water proof covers
  • slanted steel roof to facilitate snow removal (it’s a Maine thing)
  • a seasonal water  hook-up near the coop (see more on this here).

Click here to download the free plans for this chicken coop, courtesy of Paul!

Click on the thumbnails below to view a slideshow of our project going together.

64 Responses to Free Downeast Thunder Farm Chicken Coop Plans

  1. annie says:

    Wow! You thought of everything! Those birds are SAFE! My daughter is thinking of getting chickens and these plans will help so much. Thank you.

  2. Polly Smith says:

    your plans are great, I really like the look, do you by any chance have a materials list also to go with the plans or is that asking alot….I love your web site.

  3. Polly Smith says:

    Sorry Susan, I was looking for a material list for the chicken coop, I wanted to go get what my husband needed to built it for me…I really want this coop, it is exactly what I have been looking for….

    • Susan says:

      Polly, Paul doesn’t have a materials list for this. He did say that most home improvement places like Home Depot or Lowes will take your plans work up a shopping list for you.

  4. Jim Maness says:

    Nice job. I would like the measurements and any building details for the yard if possible. Thanks

    • Paul B. says:

      The measurements are whatever you would like them to be. Our coop is 8′ long so that is the width of the run, and we extended the run out 12′ from the coop. We made the height just a little more than 6′ so we can walk inside the run without ducking or hunching over. The size of your run can be anything based on your requirements, number of chickens, and how much money you want to spend on materials. Much of the time, we just look around and see what materials we have on hand or what we can scrounge so we don’t have to dig into our wallets. That’s pretty much how we determine how big something is going to be.

      Paul B.
      Downeast Thunder Farm

  5. Nancy Feemster says:

    Love your design! I wrote above …. but maybe you won’t see it. I have family in Fryeburg, ME. How close are you to Fryeburg? Best Regards, Nancy

  6. jacquie p says:

    I love this coop. It is well built without going over the top and becoming a chick-mahall. I like that it would be easy to double the size of this coop later if I want to get more chickens in the future. Also, the slope of the roof will let me hook up a way to catch water in a barrel to water the chickens. Do the nest boxes go on the short back side or the long side?
    I am a single women and I would have to build it without any help. I have never built anything. Do you think a person could do it alone? Is there anywhere I could get some fairly simple step by step type instructions?

  7. Jacquie,

    If you download the plans, you’ll notice we integrated nesting boxes along the left side (long side) of our coop. This suited our requirements at the time we built it, however they can be located wherever you wish to put them. In fact, you do not have to build permanent nesting boxes into the coop at all. Rather, you can build a portable or moveable nesting box and place it wherever you wish in the coop. That would make for easy removal and cleaning.

    Regarding your last few questions: You should have at least rudimentary carpentry skills and experience with hand & power tools, along with basic plan reading knowledge to attempt building this coop. Without such prerequisite skills, my best recommendation (in terms of safety) is to hire a local contractor to erect a chicken coop for you. If you are motivated and determined enough to tackle such a project, you can purchase books on basic shed and outbuilding construction from stores such as Home Depot and Lowes. Such books are relatively inexpensive and provide basic general instructions with photos, illustrations and other pertinent information. In many cases the same stores will also compile a materials list for your project, right from a copy of plans you provide them (free) when you are purchasing the materials from them. Inquire at their service or contractor desk.

    Before beginning such a project, you need basic items such as a pair of sawhorses. You can download a free plans package with drawings, instructions and materials lists for sawhorses, tool bench, workbench, foot stool, shelves, etc. by visiting my web site: http://www.downeastthunder.com and hover your cursor over the “about” button. You will then see a drop down menu and click on the first selection under “about” entitled “RR Plans & Drawings.” That will take you to a menu page of drawings. The last one listed at the bottom of the page; “DTRR Workshop Fixture Complete” is the hyperlink you want to click on. This will take you to an info page where you click once more on the hyperlink, and that will begin the download process in pdf format. Save the pdf document to your computer, and you can print out the plans on your own printer on standard 8-1/2″ x 11″ paper.

    Thank you for your comments and questions. Best of luck with your chicken coop project. We’d love to see a couple of photos when you are finished if you think to send them.

    Thanks,

    Paul J. Bennett

    • Trevor R says:

      Hi Paul,

      Take a bow as your chicken coop’s fame has spread all the way to us in the south-west of Western Australia. I am hoping to build something similar based on this design but just wondering if you could clarify a little more how the rooofing beams were attached to the main wall frames and also what you used for the roof itself. It can get pretty hot here in summer and not sure if I should use corrugated iron in case the chooks get too hot! Thanks again for posting all this really helpful information for people like us with no experience in this area.
      Regards
      Trevor

  8. Paul says:

    Trevor,

    With respect to attaching the rafters, I simply nailed them into place. I use a pneumatic framing nailer, so it?s quite simple. Just a few squeezes of the trigger and?.done! If you don?t have one of those, you can pound a 20 penny nail (spike) right through the rafter and directly into the top sill plate of the wall in the front and rear. If you don?t have access to nails that big, use smaller framing nails toe-nailed through the rafter into the top sill plate (2 per rafter end). You don?t even have to use nails. You could use some galvanized deck screws ? your option.

    I used 1/2? plywood (exterior) sheathing over the rafters, again ? fastened with nails using my pneumatic coil nailer.

    Rather than use tar paper & asphalt roofing shingles, I used corrugated steel roofing panels over the plywood. Why? Because I already had it left over from another project and I didn?t have to buy it. It won?t get too hot because the coop is well ventilated and the plywood is under the metal roofing. Besides, the chickens don?t stay inside the coop during the day anyway ? they like to be outside. Just make sure they have access to shade, plenty of fresh water, and dust (they love to take dust baths).

    Feel free to modify the coop design to suit your own needs. This design originated to fit our requirements (at the time). We now have requirements for a larger coop. We could start with a new design, but it?s cheaper to simply modify and expand the present coop.

    My mantra over the past several years has been to develop projects based on a combination of need & what kind of materials (and quantity) are already on hand, without having to spend any money (if possible). When my wife, Susan has a need for something and presents me with a sketch and list of what she has in mind, I then go out to my shop and walk around the property to take inventory of what is on hand. I then start working on the design for the project based upon that information

  9. Ken McBride says:

    Design looks great and very functional. How many chickens can be feasibly kept with your design? I’ve read that each chicken needs approximately 2 sq feet per chicken otherwise they will eat their eggs.

    • Susan says:

      Ken, I think we’re over maximum capacity with 14. We’re going to be expanding it this summer. However, it seems to work okay. The chickens really only hang in there at night. They have their run, but when it’s not storming they free range during the day. Personally, I would hate to leave more than 6 or so in there if they don’t have a big run.

  10. Sonia Borg says:

    I love this plan! I didn’t see any measurements for the nest boxes. What size from the outside to inside and width do chickens need?

    • Susan says:

      Sonia, the boxes are about 11″ x 12″. There are 6 boxes, but only two of them get used. We’re contemplating an expansion this summer and we may not put them all back in.

  11. Marsha says:

    We are getting guinea chicks in a 1 week. We can’t wait! We are currently planning on converting part of an old shed for our coop (they will be free ranging during the day). Since we have the shed I had just casually been looking for used coops, coop plans, etc, but when I came across yours a few days ago, all I can think is that I really want to have a coop like yours built. It is great! Do you have an estimate on the materials cost? Before approaching a builder to give it a whirl, I am trying to get an estimate on whether it would be worth it as first-time owners of chickens. My husband and I are both relatively handy and I actually think combined we could probably figure out your plans and do it ourselves, but with our work schedules and 3 young kids I don’t think we could find the time to get it together…thanks for the information in advance! I absolutely love your coop!

  12. Gail says:

    I am making this chicken coop and the measurments are wrong on the 4 ft ends we had to cut it down so it would fit

  13. rob says:

    This is exactly what I was looking for thanks so much for being so detailed this helps a bunch.

  14. RJ says:

    Paul,

    I have my unit built except for final touches. Thanks for sharing the great, easy to follow plans. I still have to build the door, windows and nesting box along with the two hatch doors. Anything that you may care to share of these would be appreciated. Thanks again!

  15. Christina says:

    How much would it cost to build this? Trying to figure out if this would be cheap or a basic 8×6 shed for $300 and converting to coop

    • Paul says:

      Christina,

      Cost is a relative thing. It depends upon prices in the area where you live. Cost can also depend upon your ability to scrounge and recycle. If you’ve read the replies I’ve made here earlier, you’ll note that most of my project designs are based upon the materials I already have on hand in order to keep spending down.

      Since you can download the plans for free, I would suggest doing so, and then you can calculate what you need for materials and get prices from your local suppliers. You’ll then have an accurate account of what it will cost you to build this coop.

      You can certainly build a coop much cheaper than this one if cheap is what you want. I know a local farmer that uses an old pick-up truck cap as a coop that someone gave to him. That one cost him nothing at all. I guess it all depends on what you really looking for.

      Good luck on your project.

      Paul B.

  16. Mishelle Hidle says:

    Paul, You have impressed two southern women with your coop. We are just now getting our chicks and we want to build your coop. We have the plans but would it b e possible for you to give us a list of supplies. It would be most appreciated.

    Thank you,

    Mishelle

  17. Paul says:

    Greetings Mishelle,

    No materials list was ever generated for this project. Most lumber yards will compile a list of materials for you if you provide a copy of the plans to them (providing you are purchasing materials from their establishment).

    Best wishes with your project.

    Paul B.

  18. Cliff Bryant says:

    Thanks for the plans. We just finished building ours and had a great time doing so.
    Here are a few photos.
    Woops, it won’t let me post the pics, but thanks anyway.
    Cliff at “Double B Ranch, Nevada City, Ca.

  19. Mishelle Hidle says:

    Paul,

    Thank you so much. We will take it to a our local lumber yard. We are so looking forward to this project and will keep you posted on the project.
    Thank you again for sharing with us.

    Gratefully yours,

    Mishelle

  20. francois says:

    Thanks for the plans,man.My girls are loving this !! Double thumbs up… WEST-YORKSHIRE,ENGLAND. april,2014.

  21. melissa says:

    Thanks Paul for the fantastic plans!! My boyfriend and I have been building our coop the last few weeks. We got the frame, siding and roof up. Still have the windows, nesting boxes, front door, chicken door and run to go. Our 12 chicks arrived yesterday 🙂 Here was our lumbar list: (19) 2x4x8, (5) 2x4x10, (6) 3/8x4x8 T1-11 siding,(1) 2x6x8, (2) 4x4x8 pressure treated, (2) 3/4x4x8 plywood, (23) 2x3x8. Lumbar cost about $400. Have fun everyone!!

  22. Chris says:

    Fantastic design! How did you make the windows? Did you make the door to the coop yourself as well?

  23. rob says:

    http://www.buffalocreekbedandbreakfast.com/buffaloimages.htm

    copied your plans about a year ago thanks again love it
    I’ll have 10 hens in here pretty maxed out have a large run 25 X 55 ever get down that way look us up
    thanks
    rob

  24. Deena says:

    Hi, Paul, this is a great design and I’m going to attempt it for my first building project. I am making a few modifications to suit my site, and your plans are so wel explained I feel (almost) confident doing that! The only question I have so far is about the cleanout door. There is no picture of the back end of the coop finished, and the pic from the inside doesn’t seem to show an opening. Is it a hinged door? Is it only an opening to shovel manure through to the outside? Thanks very much for making these plans available for a free download!

  25. Paul says:

    Deena,

    The cleanout door is really just a small flap the is hinged on the top and can be latched when open. It makes manure removal a little easier, but also allows you to hose down the inside of the coop once and awhile as such a door allows the easy removal of water with a squeegee. When I hose out the coop, I enter through the door and push all the water out the cleanout door at the rear of the coop. It’s really not an absolute necessity and is purely optional. We don’t use ours very much but it does come in handy at times. In truth, the main reason the cleanout door exists (along with a few other features) is because I’m an engineer by profession, and engineers tend to over-complicate designs when designing for themselves. I thought it would be a great idea at the time I was designing the coop on my computer, but perhaps would have been better to keep the design simple and omit it. In your case, you can build the cleanout door into the coop during initial construction or simply leave it out if you don’t want to go through the extra time and trouble to construct it. That’s a personal choice you get to make. Either way, your chickens won’t care. They’ll just be happy to have a shelter from weather and protection from predators.

    Good luck on your building project.

    Paul B.

  26. Jessica says:

    Hi! We built this coop a year ago and wanted to say thanks for the free plans! It turned out pretty nice:
    http://jessicareedinfo.blogspot.com/2013/09/winter-chicken-coop-in-progress.html
    http://jessicareedinfo.blogspot.com/2013/08/building-winter-permanent-chicken-coop.html

    Finished coop in the background here:
    http://jessicareedinfo.blogspot.com/2014/01/life-on-farm-polar-vortex-edition.html

    Thanks again for sharing this with everyone!

  27. Joanne Glah says:

    You design will be used in Vietnam! I have been looking for a simple design for the coops for a chicken egg project we are organizing for orphanages in the Central Highlands. I am going to make the coops detachable from the run and movable, so they can be brought close to the dorms at night for theft protection. I will send you pictures of your coops in Vietnam. Thank you so much.

  28. Craig Brown says:

    Hi Paul
    I live in Australia and we are building your chicken coup with a lower pitched roof as we do not get a lot of snow here .Just wanted to send you a line , we are half way through the project and my son and I are enjoying it , and soon our chickens will get the benefit .Will try posting a photo when we finish thanks for your plans we had to convert from imperial to metric that was challenging
    regards Craig B

  29. Thomas says:

    Drawings show 2×3 for side framing. My local yard only has 2×4. Would it be a problem if i were to use the 2×4 in place of the 2×3’s?

    • sjbennett says:

      Paul tells me:

      No Problem, providing you don’t mind paying for more material, having just a little less interior space, and are willing to do the math to allow for slightly different dimensions while building. Also note the coop will be just a little heavier which may not be any concern in most applications but something to be aware of.

  30. Don Bennette says:

    Thank you so much for the plans! I designed and built a coop for four birds under my back stairs two years ago and it took almost the whole summer to build! This should go much quicker! If I understand your plans correctly, DWG B states that the Right Side side walls are 2″ x 3″ framing, does that mean that the Left side is also 2″x3″ framing (except of course the 2x6header)? if this is correct, then all the wood in DWB G & H is also 2×3 headers? (again, except of course the 2x6header). DWG B also states That Front/Rear walls are 2×4 frames, which would mean that all the wood in DWG E & F are all 2×4’s? (again, except the 2×4 header for the clean out door). What is the “Temporary Block” in DWG G & H? What is the 2×3 filler block in DWG B?

    • sjbennett says:

      The left and right side wall framing (Drawings G & H) are all 2×3’s with the exception of the one and only header (2 x 6) used for the opening featured for the nesting boxes.

      Both front and rear walls are of 2 x 4 construction.

      The temporary block lets you pre-assemble the walls and then install them as modular units such that they won’t fall apart while moving them and setting them in place. The rear wall framing fits into the space occupied by the temporary block. You remove the temporary blocks once the side walls are in place and then insert the rear wall. Once the front wall is in place and you have installed the roof rafters, you will begin attaching the siding to the wall framing, but in order to have something to fasten to at the front corners of the coop between the top of the side walls and the top of the rafters (supported by the front/rear walls), you’ll want to first install some “filler blocks.”

      Pictures are each worth a thousand or so words, so maybe take a look at the photos showing various stages of construction to get a better idea if my explanation is not making sense to you at this point. If anything, it should all become clearly evident once you begin construction and get to that point. That’s when you’ll probably experience the proverbial “ah-hah” moment and then you’re home free from there.

      We share the drawings to provide ideas and maybe a little inspiration to others. They are not 100% complete with every possible detail as they were originally drawn only as a guide for myself for occasional reference while I built our coop.

      Thanks for your questions and best wishes with your project.

      – Paul B.

  31. Don Bennette says:

    Concerning my 6-1-15 entry: No local lumber sources for 2×3 studs, so I will have to use 2×4’s. In addition to still needing to know what the “filler block” is for, I have another question: Did you buy pre-made windows and install them or did you make your own? The only thing I could find online for making your own involved using a router and other tools I do not have. If you made your own, did it involve a router or are there simpler ways to make your own window? Again, thank you so much for these plans!

  32. Steve Lucas says:

    Hey Paul,
    Great plan. Just finished framing the walls. Was just wondering if there is a plan, with dimensions and such, for the coop nesting box opening and if so where can I find it. In any event just wanted to say thanks as this plan saved me a lot of time.
    Thanks again,
    Steve

    • sjbennett says:

      Steve,

      Nope. No Plan. It’s entirely up to your imagination as to what to do as far as nesting boxes are concerned. I don’t like ours, so (probably) this year, I’m going to rip them out and do something else. Not sure what that will be just yet.

      – Paul B.

  33. Steve Lucas says:

    Thanks Paul.

  34. Wiliam Jowrs says:

    I just finished building all of the walls & will move the parts into my fenced chicken area soon. I will assemble the walls then sheath it in. I bought windows at a building recycling warehouse. Cheap & brand new double pane house windows left over from someone’s construction. Try a Habitat for Humanity resale store, they always have some cool leftovers.
    Bill

  35. Fran and Mike Spitale says:

    Paul or Susan, beautiful coop. Hope ours turns out as nice. Question about the plans: the footprint in 4′ by 8′, but in the plans for the short sides, its short sides at the base are 3′ 7″. Does that mean there is a 5″ lip on one side or 2.5″ on both sides? Or? We were thinking of making those sides 4′ but we’d have to recalibrate the width measurements for everything else on those sides. Are we missing something? Thanks! Fran and Mike

    • Paul Bennett says:

      Fran & Mike:

      I believe that you are referring to the dimension of 3’7″ given on Drawing “F”. If you look at the rear wall on Drawing “B” you will notice the two side walls overlap the rear wall on each side. The side walls are constructed with 2×3’s which have an actual width of 2-1/2″ so two side walls times 2-1/2″ = 5″ and the 5″ added to the 3’7″ width of the rear wall equals 4 feet.

      The drawings are small in size in order to fit a standard size piece of paper such that you can download and print out the plans, but if you look close you’ll see the full width in Drawing B. Drawing F and the other stud wall drawings are to aid in the pre-construction of each wall section, but if you’ll trust me, I can assure you it all fits together as drawn. I built ours directly from these same drawings, and CAD is extremely accurate.

      If you look at the pictures of the coop during construction, you’ll see a picture of the rear wall constructed and laying on the garage floor. The photo right next to it shows one side wall and the rear wall erected in place on the floor platform. Notice the space on the floor beside the rear wall where the missing side wall is supposed to go? Then look at the other side wall that is in place and you’ll see no space on the floor beside the rear wall there because it is filled with side wall. Look closely at a few of the other pictures and I’m certain all of this will make perfect sense.

      Best of luck on your chicken coop project. Perhaps you’ll send us a few photos when you are finished?

      Thank you. – Paul Bennett

  36. Deena says:

    Almost two years since my last post, and since then I’ve built my coop and my girls have been safe and warm for the last two winters. It’s not quite square, not quite straight and not quite level – but the chickens don’t care. It was harder to build than I thought, but I’m pushing 60 and the only things I needed help with were lifting the plywood to the roof and raising the fourth wall. I used a lot of reclaimed materials to keep the cost down, but anyone who is costing one should count at least $100 for hardware, screws and nails. I am north of you (in Nova Scotia) and I used packing Styrofoam to insulate the north wall (which is where the roost is) as well as the ceiling over the roost and the sidewalls beside the roost. The rest is uninsulated and your design allows for lots of ventilation. After some slight frostbite our first winter I hung a blanket from the ceiling that encloses the roost area. It didn’t take them long to learn they’d be warm behind the blanket and there’s been no frostbite since! I couldn’t have done it without your plans and the pictures you posted. Thank you so much!!

    • Susan says:

      Deena, that’s so fun! I like your ideas. We had trouble with frostbite the first year. I kept closing the windows to keep them warm, but then there was too much moisture in the coop. I started leaving the windows open all the time – unless it was a crazy windy/snowy/rainy day. I haven’t had trouble with the frostbite again.

      We’re gearing up for a major overhaul this summer – new nesting boxes, some updated windows and a fresh paint job.

  37. Ellen says:

    Love this coop. Do you have instructions for constructing the acrylic windows and the door?

    • Susan says:

      Ellen, I don’t have any written plans for those pieces. We’ve just modified it and removed the windows entirely and just have hardware in place and then shutters that we can close (from the inside) if the weather gets too nasty.

  38. Kathy says:

    Thank you for taking the time to share these plans and pictures with us. I plan on using them for our coop. God bless you both for your generosity.

  39. Matt says:

    For the 2×3 framing, including the wall sheet, what size nails did you use? This is PERFECT for our flock. Built the floor and will start the framing very soon. Thank you for sharing!

    • Susan says:

      For the framing, Paul says we used 3 to 3.5 inch long nails – whatever we had on hand. To put the sheathing on I’m fairly certain we used roofing nails somewhere around 1.5 inches. Paul says for putting the siding on, your nails should be 3x the thickness of the siding. If your siding is 1/2″ thick, your nails should be 1.5″ long. Hope this helps!

  40. Karen says:

    I’m just wondering the reason for the rafters on the roof that are not enclosed. Do you have them for ventilation or do you close them off during the winter. I noticed you are in Maine, as am, I so it’s cold during the winter. Wouldn’t it be cold for the birds to have open air through the top rafters all the time? I am going to build this week using your plans but was just unsure about the rafter part.

    • Susan says:

      Karen, you could open the space and cover it with hardware cloth. I did this on the back-side of the coop. The girls have plenty of ventilation as we almost never close the windows on one wall; they do fine!

  41. Hi Paul!

    I read in the comments that you don’t like the nesting boxes. What exactly didn’t you like about them? We fiancé and I are getting ready to build this coop and run with a few minor adjustments to better suit our land and I wanted to touch base to see what critiques you have that may be helpful. Love this design! Thanks so much for posting for everyone!

    Becky

  42. Paul Bennett says:

    Rebecca,

    The original nesting boxes I built into one side of the coop turned out to leak and allow water to get between the siding and framing – hence the beginning of wood rot. The boxes were also tough to keep clean, and the chickens only used a couple of the boxes and ignore the remainder of them for some reason.

    Last year, I ripped out the built-in nesting boxes, and the T-111 siding, replaced some of the rotted studs in that area, and put up new siding material – minus the built-in nesting boxes.

    We now use a couple of plastic buckets on their sides for nesting boxes – placed at the back of the coop & with holes cut in the bottom of the buckets, we can reach in through the clean out hatch in the back of the coop to get the eggs without entering the coop.

    If you “Google” nesting boxes in Google Images, you’ll get quite a few good ideas you can borrow from.

  43. Frank Sherman says:

    Hi, I love the design and will be building one in the future. Is there a list of materials? It would be handy to know how many 90×45 etc. (metric) for 4×2, to order etc.

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