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Chicken Coop Semi-Fail

By: Everett S

In addition to a disgusting pigsty – literally – both inside and outside the house, the previous occupants left behind a plastic calf hutch, often used in these parts as shelter for calves being raised for veal, but in this case for the pigs they kept in the front yard.

Calf Shed Before Chicken Coop Conversion

I bought some chickens off of my neighbor recently. By the time I was able to get into the new house there were only two left. The girls had taken to roosting high in the trees after witnessing four of their crew eaten alive inside his unlocked coop. I think this is the reason they still prefer to roost on the porch railing, leaving fresh piles of chicken manure on my porch each morning. As such, I am calling the calf-hutch-to-chicken-coop conversion a semi-fail. Once I make some adjustments and get a good rooster I’m hoping they will begin making use of their fine accommodations.

The big adjustment I need to make is the front door. It is currently covered in chicken wire, but I hope to attache some 2x4s to the plastic hutch so I can frame in a real door. I’ve been using the small side door in the meantime, which I envision as just being used to access eggs from the nesting box. Conveniently, the structure comes with feeding racks that are perfectly suited for holding up a nesting box.

If you want to give this a try yourself, here is what I’ve done so far…

Nestig Box Door

I covered up the hole that was cut into the side. You may not have to do this since I think the hole was cut by the previous owners, and not the factory. The door to the right of that hole is what you would open to access the nesting box.


Wiring Up

I put a cattle panel (you can use hardware cloth, woven wire or chicken wire) under the structure since it has no bottom.


Wired Cattle Panel

You can see the small holes I drilled in the bottom lip for the purpose of attaching the panel with wire.


In this view you can see where the nesting box will sit on the round, metal feed bucket holders, which came with the hutch.

I’ve added the nesting box and have also installed a wooden dowel for the chickens to roost on, which as simple as cutting it to the exact width of the hutch and putting one screw in each side. I have also closed up the front door with chicken wire while I find the time to build the frame. Working with warped plastic makes it difficult to frame in a door that doesn’t have holes big enough for critters to get in through. The wooden frame should resolve this issue.

Has anyone else made a chicken coop from a calf hutch? If so, got any tips?

I’ll let you know how it ends up here in a few months once it’s finished and we have a full flock. Until then, two eggs a day is the norm and they are kind enough to leave them in my son’s stroller on the back porch every morning.

Category: Animals, The Transplants

Comments (4)

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  1. Dawn White says:

    I feel your pain, man. I have a flock of 42 Dominiques that are no more than a week away from laying eggs. I’ve lost one to a possum, one to a raccoon, and four to dogs stupid people drop here because I’m an 80-acre farm out in the middle of nowhere. I think the only reason I haven’t lost more is because I lock the chickens in their coop at night. They still free range, but only while predators are sleeping. If I were you, I’d put half-inch welded wire under the bottom, and maybe lift it off the ground. That’d keep snakes out and make for a cleaner place for them to sleep. Would also incent them to sleep in a nesting box, and eave their eggs there. Nice of them to leave them on the back porch, but you might wanna use that stroller again, yanno? I love the calf feeder idea; it’s light and easy to move, so you can pasture your chickens a lot more effectively. Today I’m starting construction of a modular fence for my broilers, and I’ve been fretting about what I’m gonna shelter them in. I may take your example and see if I can find a calf feeder hutch for myself. One of my neighbors raises cattle, so chances are good. Keep up the good work, guy.

  2. Paula says:


    We have 10 eight week old Buckeyes…I’m sure there will be an extra rooster in there if you’re interested. I may be able to get my daughter to let one go!
    I have some updated photos from the farm too if you’re curious to see how things have come along!

  3. Everett says:

    Hey Paula!

    I’d love to have a Buckeye rooster again. I’d need another month or so to finish the new coop and chicken yard though. That is a great breed.

    Can you email me a few photos? I drove by once on my way back from Mount Airy and saw the house built up on the hill. I always thought that would be a good spot for a place.

    I hope you’re doing well. It’s good to hear from you.

  4. Nazia says:

    Just received Ana’s book this week and love your conlsoe and hutch! I’m planning on building the hutch and adding it to a table I already have. I was hoping you could share how you did the beautiful wood finish on the back and also what color and paint you used on the rest of the piece? Love it all! Thank you!

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