Make It Your Own: Rob and Tansy’s Veggie Garden and Chicken Coop, Bendigo, Victoria (Australia)

Rob and Tansy's Australian Garden Coop chicken coop from metric instructions
Spring is right around the corner. . . in Australia, anyway, where the season starts the first of September. In honor of that, I’m featuring the gorgeous garden and coop of Rob and Tansy K. of Bendigo, Victoria. They used the metric version of our plans to build The Garden Coop to house their chooks, modifying the size somewhat to fit atop an existing brick raised garden bed and to incorporate found and recycled materials. The result is not only a beautiful backyard chicken coop, but one with character and history right from the start. Read on for more, including a look at a regional magazine feature that showcased their creation. The rest of the post comes directly from Rob. . . .

Our home food garden in Bendigo

My wife and I have been building an extensive home food garden over the last few years in Bendigo, Australia (about 100 miles inland from Melbourne). For us, the next logical step was getting chickens. Our garden is quite large — on a standard block, we have 14 bricked garden beds and about 20 fruit trees espaliered around the fence line. It’s underneath these trees that we have set up outdoor runs for the chickens. We turned one of our rectangular beds, 2750mm by 1250mm, over to the coop. Directly adjacent to the run under the fruit trees, we added a small door at the back of the coop to facilitate chook access.

Victoria garden with chicken coop from plans

Our first adaptation was to resize the structure to our smaller space by reducing the width of the middle section and the depth. We moved the door to the end of the coop to retain the door size in the plans. We have bolted the coop directly to the brickwork, dug out and lined the bottom of the bed with the hardware cloth and then back filled as an alternative to the method in the plans.

The timber sizes available to us in regional Victoria are a bit limited, so we settled on 45mm x 90mm timber for the outer frame, which meant quite a bit of retallying numbers, but we were doing that anyway for our resize. We ended up using 3m long timber lengths instead of 2.4m as it fit the measurements nicely and gave us minimal off cuts.

Australian chicken coop from plans

From there, wherever we were able to, we used recycled hardwood timber from a wall we had removed during our kitchen renovation a couple of years earlier. The front and rear boards of the house section are recycled from an old hall building. We used the offcuts from using these boards to rebuild our garage door first, which is why the back section is in so many pieces! We liked the mix of colours and the rustic look, so simply sanded them back and clear coated them for protection.

Recycled boards on hen house of do it yourself chicken coop

To finish it all off, I had been eyeing off a vigorous stand of bamboo along our railway line for some time, so gleaned some of this for the rungs on the ladder, perches in the house, and details such as latches on the cleaning and egg doors.

Chook house ladder

Finally, I put together a sign, for the door with a stenciled Australorp on a couple of the recycled board off cuts. Our house is number 30, so we gave the chickens their own address, 30A…

DIY chicken coop sign

Featured in Bendigo Magazine

We were also very happy to have our coop featured recently in Bendigo Magazine, a seasonal magazine focusing our region, as part of an article on our food garden. Have a look!

Bendigo vegetable garden featured in magazine spread

Why we chose The Garden Coop metric chicken coop plans

We had a look at coops and prefab coops online and struggled to find something that fit with our environmental and aesthetic ideals. We also visited Portland in 2011, staying on an urban permaculture farm and loved the city, its food, and environmental culture. We were quite pleased when we stumbled upon The Garden Coop website, and it didn’t take long for us to make the purchase of the plans and get started on our coop.

We found the metric instructions very straightforward to follow and easily adapted to our particular needs. Also, seeing other peoples’ takes on the design showed that it’s more than simply a set of instructions, it’s a culture of sorts. I would not have said I was a skilled craftsperson at the outset of building the coop, but I have learnt many new skills and techniques along the way. So I would happily recommend these plans to anyone looking at building their own coop.

We have a one-year-old boy at home who is now enjoying the wonders of home chicken raising. We have 5 Australorp hens and a few rumpless Araucana. The chickens love their coop, we love the coop, and everyone we show it is highly impressed with the design and the aesthetic. We’ve recommended it to a number of friends and community gardens already and will keep doing so. We look forward to many happy years ahead with our new chicken family!

–Robert and Tansy, Bendigo, Victoria, Australia

A big thank you to Rob and Tansy for building their coop with our metric chicken coop plans and for staying in touch. I’m impressed by the fact that, while a lot of parents feel they need to leave their backyards in grass for their kids, they have created a more interesting, lively place for their son to grow up in. If you like what they’ve done, let them know with a quick comment below. And if you’d like to receive email notifications as posts are published, subscribe to Coop Thoughts

Make It Your Own: Rob and Family’s California Garden Coop + Goats

Chickens and goats together in a California backyard

Rob S. and his family in Davis, California, used The Garden Coop plans to build a more spacious coop for their flock of eight backyard chickens when they moved from the city to the outskirts. But chickens aren’t the only creatures in his family’s yard. “We have a mule, a donkey, and two sheep in the front pasture,” Rob says. And out back with the chickens. . . two Nigerian dwarf goats! Read on to see how they all get along. The rest of the story comes directly from Rob. . . .  Read more and discuss »

How to predator proof the open floor of The Garden Ark mobile chicken coop

How to close floor of chicken tractor coop

I’ve been working for some time on a solution to predator-proof the open floor of The Garden Ark mobile chicken tractor. The challenge has been finding a way to secure the floor without closing it off completely or permanently. After all, you need the open floor for mobility, cleaning, and access to grazing. After much trial, I finally came up with an elegant solution (essentially a version of one of these turned upside down) then put it to the test. It works perfectly, and now I’m excited to share it.  Read more and discuss »

Make It Your Own: Kristopher & Family’s Spokane Garden Coop

Spokane chicken coop with blue trip.

Kristopher and his family in Spokane, Washington, built a beautiful chicken coop using our plans as a guide. I love the attention to detail, for instance, in their choice of hinges, ladder construction, dark blue trim, and neatly attached hardware cloth. They also added a nifty PVC feeder they can fill from outside the coop.  Read more and discuss »

Make It Your Own: Heidi’s Oregon Garden Ark for Bunnies

The Garden Ark modified to house two rabbits.

Heidi in Portland, Oregon, used our plans for The Garden Ark chicken coop to build a rabbit hutch for her two pet rabbits. While the ark works well for this in both size and functionality, there are some things you’d need to modify to make it work for bunnies. To get the discussion going, here are some tips Heidi sent in for others thinking of doing the same.  Read more and discuss »

Make It Your Own: Bill and Chris’s Massachusetts Garden Coop

Front view of Garden Coop with henhouse window and green trim.

Bill and Chris in Southeastern Massachusetts built a beautiful chicken coop using The Garden Coop plans. They sent us some nice pictures and a detailed description of all they did to make it their own. The rest of the post comes directly from Chris. . . .  Read more and discuss »

7 tips for building a garden-friendly chicken coop

In the urban or suburban garden, limited space, pests, wary neighbors, and the like can make the idea of keeping chickens seem like more hassle than it’s worth. But by designing and building the right kind of coop, you can quickly get past these hurdles and add a whole new dimension to your garden.

Here are seven tips to put your coop project on the right path. . . . 

1. Let it breathe.

Window on the front of Dan's Austin chicken coop.

A well-ventilated chicken coop helps keep your hens from suffering and your neighbors from complaining. Of course, you do need to stay ahead of any odors, making sure you balance out their poop with plenty of high-carbon bedding like straw, wood shavings, leaves, or shredded paper. We use the deep-litter method and continue to add straw as the chickens add droppings. This mixture begins to compost in place, and the volume builds only slowly. From time to time we move it all to a compost bin to finish doing its thing, then incorporate the rich fertilizer into the garden.

NOTE: The pictures in this post feature coops built by us and by customers of our chicken coop plans. Click on them to learn more about each DIY chicken coop build.

Read more and discuss »

Make It Your Own: Marc’s California Garden Coop

California chicken coop with tongue and groove siding.

Marc in Los Altos, California, built this great-looking chicken coop using The Garden Coop walk-in coop plans. He added some nice touches and sent a lot of pictures to illustrate what he’s built. The rest of the post comes from him. . . . Read more and discuss »

Make It Your Own: Dale’s Decked Out Oregon Garden Coop

Garden Coop with henhouse walls to the ground.

Dale sent us pictures of his amazing garden and chicken coop he built using The Garden Coop plans. Among many other additions, he built the henhouse walls to the ground on three sides, attached attractive outboard nesting boxes, and added rectangular windows to the henhouse. The rest of the post is from Dale. . .  Read more and discuss »

Make It Your Own: Breanna’s Sacramento Garden Coop with Extended Run

Walk-in chicken coop made bigger with 12' extended run and outboard nesting boxes

Breanna in Sacramento, California, built this roomy chicken coop using The Garden Coop plans. She extended the run by twelve feet and added external nesting boxes to the hen house just left of the walk-in door. White paint and a well-placed tarp help keep her chickens cooler in the summer months.

Thanks to Breanna for sharing a picture of her chicken coop. If you like what she’s created, please let her know with a note below. And if you want to receive email notifications of future posts, subscribe to Coop Thoughts.



Make It Your Own: Ian’s Garden Ark Chicken Coop with Solar-Powered Door Opener (VIDEO)

Low power solar panel charges battery to power automatic chicken door

Let the chickens out. Let the chickens back in. Let ‘em out. Let ‘em in. . . .

Ian wasn’t having it anymore. While he wanted to give his chickens daily access to a larger space outside their coop, he couldn’t stay tied to their schedule. Not every day, anyway.

So being the tech savvy guy he is, Ian dug into his box of spare computer parts, added some components he found online, and fashioned a solution that has simplified his life. Read more and discuss »

Introducing The Basic Coop

Our latest coop design is ready! It’s called The Basic Coop, and plans and hardware kits are now available. Take a look. . .

The Basic Coop Chicken Coop Plans

Read more and discuss »

Make It Your Own: Michael’s Seattle Garden Coop with Cedar Siding and Windows

Chicken coop with cedar siding and shortened run

Michael and family in Seattle built a modified version of the The Garden Coop to fit their backyard and needs. I particularly like the woodwork on this coop, like the tapers he cut into the ends of the purlins, the alternating corners on the siding, and the added depth and angle on the rafter tails. Michael sent us some great notes and several photos of their handiwork. Here they are:  Read more and discuss »

New chicken coop design coming soon!

New chicken coop plans coming soon!

Just a quick note to say that I’ll be introducing a new chicken coop design in the coming weeks along with detailed plans and a companion hardware kit. It’s an adorable stand-alone coop, perfect for up to 4 hens — and you can build it for under $200! 

I’ve been working on and testing this design for some time and am excited to finally be able to share it with you soon. Stay tuned for more pictures and details.

In the meantime, we’re offering $5 off any of our chicken coop plans, now through April 21, 2014. The discount code is on the order page while it lasts. And we’re fully stocked on nipple waterers, if you’re looking to ease up on the chicken chores this spring.


Make It Your Own: Ethan’s Redwood Garden Coop, Sunnyvale, California

California redwood used to side chicken coop

Check out Ethan’s backyard coop built using The Garden Coop walk-in chicken coop plans. I like the altered dimensions, door, and roof  — and how it all fits into his yard and plantings. He used redwood, which is a beautiful option if it’s available to you. His notes. . .  Read more and discuss »