Best way to convert a shed to chicken coop…?

We have a shed which is about 7 ft. by 8 ft. I want to convert it into a chicken coop. I need some advice on the best way to do it. It has double doors at one end, and small prop-open windows on each side, with the back (north) side being solid. It’s a metal shed with a metal roof and a wooden floor. Someone has nailed sheet metal along the bottom 15 inches or so of the doors, which are otherwise made of plywood. The shed is located in the shade of several pine trees. I want to construct a fenced run outside the shed to let the chickens out into. What I really would like to do is figure out some way to make the run movable, so they can graze one part and then I can move it to let them graze another part while the other part "rests." This will stick out into our yard. Also, there is a black walnut tree right behind the shed and I’m wondering if they will get sick if they eat black walnuts that have fallen into the area (which they do regularly when ripe). Any suggestions much appreciated! What I really would like is a movable chicken coop, but it seems silly to do that when we already have the shed and it’s empty.

Oh, I forgot to mention that we plan on keeping 8-12 chickens (Rhode Island Reds).

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  1. stonefieldhill says

    Google "chicken tractor" for some great design ideas for a moveable chicken pasture. Some are basic, some are pretty involved, but the basic design is meant to keep your chickens safely contained while giving them access to fresh pasture. Depending on the size of the "tractor" and the size of the flock, the pen is moved every couple of days, or every other week or so. Most designs include a coop that moves along with the pasture as well,

    Depending on how much land you have, I would utilize the shed and simply fence a larger pasture area for their daily use. 8-12 birds would be very happy in a 1/8-1/4 acre enclosed area, and this would be enough room to prevent them from scratching the area to dust (provided there’s established grass already). You can also reseed a pasture with a seed mix specifically for livestock. We’re trying 2 different ones this year – one for deer forage in the back acreage, and another to overseed existing pasture with a sucra-sweet grazing mix for sheep and goats. I’m curious to see how much the chickens enjoy it as well.

    To convert the actual shed, you need to remember 3 basics for good housing – a dry floor, ventilation, and windows and doors that can be secured against nighttime predators. Put hardware mesh over the window openings so that the windows can be open for fresh air, but will not allow raccoons or other predators to come in. In the winter, electric is helpful, as you can keep lights on after dark to continue egg production, and run heat lamps to give your girls extra warmth on the colder nights.

    Your birds would also need appropriate roosts and nest boxes (some of the best designs I’ve found are in Storey’s Guide to Raising Chickens, which is a book I recommend to all new poultry owners anyway – so now you have another reason to pick a copy up at the feed store!) Your birds will also need food and water, and I’ve found using hanging feeders and waterers reduces spillage and messes.
    Also, with a permanent building, you will have an easier time storing other necessities, such as feed storage bins, and keep your first-aid tack box handy as well.

    Converting your shed is going to be relatively easy and much cheaper than building a chicken tractor. If you’ve got the building, put it to good use and give your girls some pasture to free range on.

    Black walnuts won’t hurt them. We’ve got several of these trees on our property and our entire flock free ranges. The only animals that mess with them are all of the squirrels running around. The nuts are much too big for a chicken to even attempt to eat. I just hate running them over with the tractor (I can chip one about 25 yards when mowing!) Not to worry.

    Good luck and enjoy your new flock!

  2. ♥Aspen♥ says

    ~Your shed sounds like a great place for a chicken coop, but you are going to have to have an area where they can roost (sleep) and lay eggs. Chickens don’t feel comfortable sleeping on the ground or laying eggs in front of the open, they like it dark, so I suggest that you put a wooden plank through about a third of the shed, and cut holes in the bottom so they can get through to the other side, then place about 3 more planks behind the other plank vertically, so you have a closed off area where they can lay eggs. Be sure you can walk in there and grab them, though.

    ~You also will need to make a roost that they can sleep on, so they don’t try to get out during the night and find a stand to sit on like an armrest of a chair, a tree branch, etc. You could just talk a long pole that is rounded and place it in the coop while drilling hole the diameter of the stick on the shed so you can place the stick in. Be sure it is about 2 feet (24 inches) off the ground, they can still fly up to it, I had a three pound Barred rock and she did it.

    ~The Walnut tree is fine for your chicken’s, I’m sure they will like being placed under the tree and eating the Walnut’s, because chicken’s love nuts and fruits!

    ~Inside the shed be sure you have hay or straw in the bottom, also where they nest. And I suggest you take chicken wire (A wire with hexagon-like holes in it) and pin it against the inside of the windows, so they cannot fly out at night.

    ~I also suggest for when you close the doors at night you put a plank on the door so no animals can get in at night to eat your chickens like Coyotes, Snakes, Raccoons, etc.

    ~I heard Rhode Island Red’s are sweet, good laying chickens, but I have heard better reviews from Araucana’s. These are brown chicken’s who are the friendliest chicken on the list. They lay green, turquoise, and blue eggs. Even though the chicken’s are skinnier than normal, they love to be held and lay normal-sized eggs.

    Good luck! ~Aspen~

  3. Tamara N says

    First, in the shed, about 9 large roosts in, 3 on each wall. you can make those out large, dry branches about 3-5 inches thick. next, i would just use chicken wire to make the fence. its very light, so its relatively easy to move. just wire on a few wooden posts to hold it up, and you’ll be able to move it wherever. thats what id do. we also had a black walnut tree, and my chickens just left the nuts alone.

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