Coopsicle, Austin Style


In the 6 or so years that I’ve had chickens, we’ve moved three times (such is the life of a student). Now that we’re paying a mortgage, I wanted to build a coop that was well thought out, comfortable for the birds, and that actually could be counted as an improvement to our backyard.

One day while browsing a google image search for “chicken coop”, I stumbled upon a really cool looking coop:


Turns out this is the Coopsicle design from a book by Kevin McElroy called Reinventing the Chicken Coop (Kindle version). I read some reviews and downloaded it to take a look.

Setting the coop on a single post lets you easily put this coop on uneven ground, and we don’t need a fenced in run since we let our hens free-range in the backyard. Last weekend I sat down and really thought about how I could modify this coop for our set-up. Here’s the result:

Coopsicle, Austin StyleThe original coopsicle was located in northern California, where the summers are more mild than ours here in Austin. As such, their use of two re-used windows in either end makes a lot of sense and looks great…but we would need more airflow. I replaced the windows with 1/2 inch hardware cloth. I didn’t have any that would have spanned the entire 36″ x 36″ opening, so there are two panels with a divider. I’ll probably get a couple of plexi-glass panels to cover the openings during the winter months.

The end panels aren’t structural to the coop, so I made both of them removable to make cleaning the coop easier. They attach by sliding over two 5/16″ carriage bolts (one on each side) and are held in place with wing-nuts. In the picture you can see the recessed nut that lets the door sit flush when it slides over the bolt.

I kept one of the doors as designed, which allows access to the nest-boxes and the food. The other door I replaced with my previously built automatic coop door. Luckily this coop design is tall enough to accomodate the existing linear actuator I used, so it was pretty much a plug and play install. Check out the post on the door opener for more details, its been working great for over a year now, and is much more secure against predators than string-based designs. I chose to put the automatic door on the side of the coop you can easily see from the house so you can check on it with a quick glance. On the other side of the coop is a pop-open panel that gives easy access to the wildlife timers that set the opening and closing times

I put the coop lower on the post than the design called for in the book, and I used a 4×6 pressure-treated post instead of the 4×4 post they use (both modifications they recommended for increased stability). I really wanted to use a 6×6 cedar post, but I couldn’t procure one in time. The coop is still high enough to let me hang the 3-gallon fonts. Hanging them seems to keep the trough more full than sitting them on the ground. We use 2 just to be sure the girls have water when we go out of town for a few days.

In the book, Kevin calls for a thin-gauge aluminum roof. I kind of like the look of rusted steel, so I opted for 16 gauge steel instead. 16 gauge is a bit thicker than most roofing metal, but it is thick enough so that it won’t bend under it’s own weight. It should also rust nicely while staying structural and straight. I chose to make the roof overhang a bit further than the design in the book calls for. There were a couple of ramifications to that decision. My 6″ overhangs meant that I had to get two pieces of steel to do the whole roof (sheet metal only comes 48″ wide where I buy it). I chose to get 2, 26″ x 84″ pieces and join them at the peak of the roof with outdoor caulk. If I had a welder I would like to have welded them up, but I don’t so I didn’t. We’ll see how the caulk turns out.

The last change was that I didn’t do the circular stairs like they do in the book. My automatic door would have been difficult to turn into a floor-opening, and having a solid floor makes clean-up a bit easier (in my opinion). I put a jump-up platform under the door, and built a ramp to help them get used the the new digs. Its a bit high for our oldest hen, so I’m going to have to lower the platform if I want to remove the ramp eventually.

I’m really happy with how it turned out, and I’m thankful for the inspiration Matt and Kevin provided in their book.


One thought on “Coopsicle

  1. Pingback: A Better Automatic Chicken Coop Door | BAMBAMS

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