So I decided to build my own hen house

Despite the fact that this is in Pahrump Nevada...
and that the name of the blog is similar to what's popularly known as a "chicken ranch", I assure you this page has nothing to do with the "oldest profession" but instead it's about my adventure building a hen house for my Americauna chickens.

Yes a hen house, aka chicken coop, with a running pen. For real chickens.

I've never built my own hen house or chicken coop before, or any small animal habitat for that matter, but when two baby Americauna chicks and two Buff Orpington chicks came home one day and I was told "you need to build a hen house" I decided it was time to learn how to do it.

I searched the internet for as much information as I could about raising hens and learned lots of interesting details about them such as habits, required housing space, suggested running areas, recommended sizes for nesting boxes, etc.

So I picked out an area in the backyard where I wanted to have the pen. I decided on a section of the yard that would have sun in the morning but shade in the afternoons. Since this is the desert, the afternoon heat is brutal. My chickens like to be out searching for food in the early morning during sunrise but tend to check in for the night in the late afternoon. The trees on the north end would help with the late summer because the sun is in the northwest during that part of the year. I measured off an area that I thought would be enough room for my four hens and give me an estimate of how big I could build the hen house so that it would fit in the enclosed pen once that was complete.

Initially, we had the chicks in a tub with a box for hiding/sleeping so it was important that the hen house get built first.

The most cost effective size for the hen house that would fit into the area I had available was 4' wide x 4' tall x 2' deep. That allowed me to get just two 4' x 8' plywood boards and cut them into 4' x 2' panels for the front, back, top and bottom and then 2' x 2' panels for the sides, with the rest for various support pieces. Other materials included six 1.5" x 1.5" x 4' poles for the inside framing, two .75" x 1.5" x 4' poles (cut to 10" lengths) for the nesting boxes, a package each of 1" and 1.5" wood screws, a package of half-inch pan head screws, two slide latches, two hook latches, about 4 square feet of half-inch wire screening and about 2 square feet of quarter-inch wire screening.

My plan was for a screened window in the back panel and a screened window on the right side using the quarter-inch screening and a screened bottom using the half-inch screening (with replaceable panel for colder days). I decided to put a large access door with a slide latch on the front and the door for the hens to get in and out with would be hinged with a hook latch. I started with the front panel because it required the most cutting, arrangement and hardware.

After building the front I cut the openings in the side, back and bottom and attached the screens using pan head screws. I also screwed both ends of a wood stick I had as a roost inside.

I used leftover pieces of plywood and the 3/4" x 1.5" x 10" sticks to set the nesting boxes.

I hinged the panel on the back window and put a hook latch on it so it could be closed during the colder months. I also hinged the top panel to make it easier to get inside for cleaning and additional ventilation during the summer days.

Now I was able to move
the chickens into the hen house and start on the pen. Some friends of mine donated the materials to build the pen and were a tremendous help building it.

I used the cinder blocks to pedestal the hen house up off the ground and then built a ramp for the hens to get into and out of the house.

Overall, the cost of all the materials that I had to buy was less than $100 and that was all for the hen house but most of the materials for the running pen were donated. It took about two weeks to get it all together spending only a couple hours a day and only a few days a week working on it. Overall, about 20 hours to complete.

Next up will be painting the hen house but in the mean time the chickens are loving the new pen and are having the time of their lives rolling around in the dirt and pecking at the bugs and bits. I'll be updating this page as soon as I can afford the paint and parts for finishing it all up.

In the meantime, thanks for stopping by and checking out my project. If you have questions please feel free to contact me and I'll do my best to answer quickly.

UPDATE: As promised, here are some new pictures of the hens, all grown up now:

The two Aracaunas (The darker, red hens) lay medium to large greenish-blue eggs while the Bluffs lay large to extra large brown eggs.