Chicken Coop Compound: When A Family Goes All Out

When I first got chickens in 2005 friends came for the weekend to help convert an outbuilding into a coop. My next coop was a standard 4’x4’ on stilts, functional but nothing to write home about. I located it within a 30’x40’ run that already had several fruit trees and bushes growing there. I was determined that penned birds didn’t mean imprisoned birds or an unattractive enclosure.

In 2014 I paid professional builders to make a custom coop the maximum size allowable without a building permit (103 sq. ft) with all the features I wanted: walk-in housing with a concrete foundation, two separated areas, opening windows, an automatic pop door, good ventilation, insulation and appropriate for its forest setting (cedar siding, metal soffits and roof). I used salvaged materials when possible.

I’m forever collecting interesting ideas about coop design and came across a beautiful set up built by fellow Canadians, Jennifer and Christopher. When asked if I could feature their coops she graciously complied. Not everyone has the skill or the budget to accomplish such a compound, but I hope you’ll see that chickens can live in a beautiful environment, and that lots of these ideas are adaptable to your own situation.

We have lived here for 15 years on 10 acres and built our home with our own hands. Christopher is a mechanical engineer, who learned carpentry from his father and grandfather. Neither of us has had formal training but have been creating and crafting all our lives.

I’ve helped with animals on family and friends’ farms. We planned to get chickens years ago but my husband got very sick and was bedridden for over a year. After nine years of life and health curve balls we finally were able to build our first coop in the spring of 2020. Due to the Covid lockdown we saved money by not going on vacations and commuting to work so decided to go all out on our coop.

We learned so much from many online backyard chicken groups and we tried to incorporate as many features that were on everyone’s wishlist. We originally planned for ten birds, but learned of chicken math and ending up building for 30. Our goal was to make the coop as safe, easy to clean and as pretty as possible.

My husband and I built three coops over the last two years. The large coop is for my standard sized hens; the smaller one for bantams and the back A-frame is my daughter’s rooster bachelor pad. Each one took a several weeks to build.

The insides are not as clean and bright now, but I work hard to keep it as clean as I can. They do get dusty and there is poop, but I spend ten minutes in the morning and ten minutes at night spot cleaning which makes the world of difference. There is no smell and no bugs all year. Pretty coops can stay clean if you have extra time. We add a fresh coat of paint on the inside every two years.

Our Birds

  • We currently have over 80 chickens and many different breeds. I love a big mixed flock, but we concentrate on breeding Silkies.
  • To reduce the risk of frostbite we have small comb and wattle breeds
  • Our Seramas overwinter in a pen in the garage to protect them from the elements
  • The flocks get free run of the yard and gardens in the fall and spring and can explore in the winter as we leave the door open so they can access the compost.  They have a big outdoor play area when it’s garden season.
  • I sell eating and hatching eggs and chicks to help cover the cost of feed
Homeschooling Project: 1500 Coloured Block Igloo

Salvaged Materials Used

  • Old windows from our parents’ and in-laws’ homes
  • Junk items found on garbage pick up days
  • Most metal decor was rotting outside, which I repainted
  • Leftover stones for the walkway
  • My husband’s old slide was cut and made into a ramp and the remainder into a bench
  • Spiral staircase was from a friend’s cottage that was in our junk pile for ten years. We welded and painted it.
  • My brother gifted me the old barn boards from my granny’s. The painting was on the family’s chicken coop that had to be torn down. These boards were salvaged from it and are such a priceless gift.
  • Hardware from my father-in-law included a box of 50-year-old hinges and handles. The screen door makes that perfect squeaking sound.


  • Concrete pad in both the coop and run
  • Insulated with cupola for ventilation
  • Electrical outlets and lights installed inside the coop
  • Outside power for heated winter water dish
  • PVC pipe feeders with screw on tops
  • Poop boards filled with Stall Dry  
  • Inside fixtures are removable for cleaning
  • Laminate floor inside covered by wood shavings
  • Construction sand on the run floor
  • The lights in the run can be turned on from inside the house
  • Coop cameras installed
  • 4 brooder areas
  • Overhead netting in the large run is removed in the winter due to the snow load
  • I’m not Portuguese but love the Good Luck rooster, so I painted the coop doors inspired by that icon


  • Our buildings are as predator proof as possible while the flock is in their run and coop
  • Secured run with hardware cloth and covered with a tin roof
  • We have bears, fox, raccoons, weasels, skunks and hawks in our area – we haven’t had a loss yet.
  • The risk when free ranging is low. When our flock is out there are always one or two roosters watching over the hens, as well as our dog Quincey and us. We have lots of tree cover in our yard and places for them to hide. 

Chicken Themed Gifts

Bitchin’ Chickens: I scrolled through Jennifer’s posts in online chicken groups and it quickly became obvious that this family has been bitten by the chicken bug. Every birthday, Christmas or anniversary gift was related to chickens: incubator, heat plate, carved mailbox, egg apron, decor and even more birds!

Both girls adore chickens and have had chicken themed parties. At Christmas all the chickens got their own stocking and two went to a Christmas photoshoot.

Spider’s Web

My favorite book as a child was Charlotte’s Web, which I read a million times. I’ve gone on to read it to my kids countless times. I used to dream about being Fern sitting with my animals and having this magical spider and web hanging in my doorway.

My husband helped make my dream come true. It took us five hours of cutting and welding wire. I twisted wire to form ‘Humble’, my favourite word that Charlotte wrote, which we tacked on top. The spider is made from two spoons and wire. Now my daughters actually get to live my dream with me as we can all sit with our animals with our own magical web.

Bachelor Pad

My daughter Mia’s most epic birthday gift ever: last year we built her very own bachelor pad for her ten roosters

This one was all Super Dad’s idea. He always wanted to build an A-frame building, and it turned out so stinking cute. Of course, we had to stay with tradition and paint the door and to do it up to match the other coops.

We tucked it in behind the Silkie coop. There is a big attached run that’s separated from the hens. We hang cloth up to help block the roosters’ ability to see the hens, so they get along better if they aren’t fighting to mate. They do fight occasionally, but mostly they walk around dancing for the hens. We also have a large space with boredom busters to distract them. If one becomes too aggressive they get rehomed. We may be completely insane, but we sure got one happy kid!

We never kill an animal here. If it doesn’t fit in or we have extra roosters we give them away or donate to a local raptor rehab center who use roosters as feed. They are humanely euthanized and then become part of the animal food chain. 

Family History

I finally framed the pictures of my granny as a young woman feeding her chickens in front of her coop and me feeding my chickens in front of my coop.

The second picture is of the barn boards from my granny’s coop that were saved when it collapsed. My brother, who now owns the farm, knew how much these worthless boards meant to me and gave them to me to hang on my coop. I carefully touched up the paint and will bring it inside for the winter. I know most people are not as lucky as I am to have such a piece of family history. I also just recently found out that my grandfather, who passed years before I was born, would spend hours sitting with his tea watching the chickens, so they are in my DNA.

Our coop has so many memories already built into it. We put in a lot of time and money but the coops should last 50 years, an investment of a lifetime for the joy they bring. I’m looking forward to the memories we are going to build with it over the years.

Jennifer Bullock lives with her husband, Christopher, and their daughters, 12 year old Mia and Evalee, 13, in Northern Ontario, Canada.

Many thanks to Jennifer for sharing her story and photos, used with permission.

2 comments on “Chicken Coop Compound: When A Family Goes All Out

  1. Karen Sepko


    Liked by 1 person

  2. mrscraib

    Wowser!!! Nice! And I especially like the mailbox 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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