Anyone ever convert a loafing shed to a chicken coop and if so do you have plans?


We are just getting started with backyard chickens. we have an old loafing shed on the property, we were thinking of converting to a chicken coop. Has anyone ever taken on a project like that and if so, do you have advice/plans?

Thank you,



  • LaurieLovesLearning
    LaurieLovesLearning Moderator Manitoba, Canada 🍁 zone 3, PrairiesPosts: 4,642 admin

    Welcome to the forum, @Lori Kinzer!

    I am not familiar with what a loafing shed is, but am super familiar with chickens as I keep and breed to improve my chosen heritage breeds. At the moment, I'm working on 4 breeds, and within those, trying to improve a couple color variations & various egg colors. I have many other birds as well for purpose & pleasure.

    Chicken coops can be made out of pretty much anything. But, to help me out a little, and being from Canada, I'm not familiar with the type of shed, so I'm not sure if I can give specific tips at this point.

    You need ventilation but no drafts. Close up holes that vermin can get in. Those are basics.

    When you get a moment, make sure that you check out our Rules & FAQ in the Our Front Porch section and leave a short introduction in our Introductions area. I will leave a couple of easy to use links for you.

  • RustBeltCowgirl
    RustBeltCowgirl North Coast OhioPosts: 1,178 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @LaurieLovesLearning Unless I am way off base for this one. It's another name for a "run in" shed. Just a place to hang out under cover.

  • LaurieLovesLearning
    LaurieLovesLearning Moderator Manitoba, Canada 🍁 zone 3, PrairiesPosts: 4,642 admin
    edited September 7

    @RustBeltCowgirl I still wasn't sure with your description, so decided to look it up and found both terms. 😄 Now I know what they are. I have not talked to horse owners up here about what they might call such a structure for their horses, but it essentially looks like a large calf shelter or cattle shelter. It just sounds a little more fussy (but maybe because I read about them in terms of horse care).

    @Lori Kinzer So, it should have ventilation to the upper end if built properly. I would put in some windows in the wall on the open side. What direction is that side facing?

    You would need to secure around the outside. Besides making sure there are no drafts, I would put down a "skirt" of 1/4" hardware cloth 2' out from the structure, around the whole perimeter and firmly attached up the structure a bit (a few inches should work). This will keep digging predators out. Make sure you even have the skirt in front of the door. Put rocks or gravel down over this to help hold it down until grass grows through it and keeps it down permanently.

    Is the structure covered with steel? I would be concerned about that overheating, but possibly installing additional windows/ventilation for a good cross breeze in summer would help. You would need this on all 4 sides because as you know, wind blows from more than one direction. Windows also let in natural light, which you want for a good rate of lay.

    This should take care of your structure. I wouldn't worry too much about insulation, unless you want to add that.

    You will need to build roosts (2×4s are better than round poles) and proper sized nesting boxes for your breed of bird. A hanging nipple waterer is the best thing for watering in warm weather. The water stays clean, and that's important. As for a feeder, there are a lot of opinions on what is best and cuts down on feed waste. Here is one thread discussing these, but if you search "chicken feeder" in our search box, you will find more discussions & ideas.

    I hope this helps.

  • Monek Marie
    Monek Marie Moderator Posts: 2,669 admin

    Welcome @Lori Kinzer Its great to have you here

    All great suggestions above and ones I learned on my own!

    I am not sure of your climate but where I live one thing I overlooked when I first put a coop together was rain and snow. If you get heavy rains make sure your door is not on the side where rain flows off. I later put a eves up to direct rain into a rain barrel that I could use at times for watering.

    I also can get heavy snow storms or dumps as we call them. So ther door needs to go into the shelter, set up higher than ther snow will build up or have a porch like entry. I found this out when I had to dig an hour on snow that also had a rain mix mixed in it to get the door open.

    I also like to have the coop set up a bit higher than the ground if possible. if you have a heavy rain it will run away from thew coop and not pool up and make mud puddles.

    And where I live I have a lot of predators so I have to make sure I have no holes anywhere, my doors fit snuggly and I have double latches on all pens ( Raccoons are an issue here and they can open doors )

    At certain times of the year I have pallets laid down to help prevent muddy paths. The chickens like to sit on them.

    I like to keep extra feeders and waterers on hand to change out quickly if I am short on time at that momnet but want them to have clean waters and feeders.

    I love my chickens. They add lots of fun and laughter to the home. If you set up your area properly it will take very little time to take care of them and keep them safe. Safety is my issues here! Good luck an have fun

  • Lori Kinzer
    Lori Kinzer Posts: 4

    Hi, thank you all for your replies. Here are a couple photos which I should have included from the beginning. building is Steel. We have Coyotes and hawks so I have ground and air attack concerns and these are just the predators I know about. I hadn't thought of air flow, excellent tip on windows vs. openings for air flow. We wanted to give them a large space to graze. The opening faces SE. We are in southern United States.

  • LaurieLovesLearning
    LaurieLovesLearning Moderator Manitoba, Canada 🍁 zone 3, PrairiesPosts: 4,642 admin

    Thanks for the pictures! That helps tremendously.

    With that type of ceiling, there should be no shortage of natural light. We had a small shed that had this as a skylight. It was wonderful until it broke. Check it out for any signs of cracking or other damage.

    I would close up those small holes in the walls. If you are in the south, you will have snakes, which aren't an issue where I live, but they can get into the tiniest spaces & create big problems.

    Check for open spaces between each panel and close them. Check the rusty areas for strength.

    If you wire shut any holes, be aware that you may need to clean them off (and screened windows) periodically if dust and feathers start to build up on them. If you have screened windows, hardware cloth instead of wimpy screen will be a better option. You will want screen over the upper openings under the roof to keep snakes out that may drop from the overhead trees.

    A dirt floor works just fine for our birds. The rain does not flow under our walls. Watch on a rainy day to see if you may need to raise anything, as @Monek Marie said.

    Opening to the SE is good, light without excessive heat.

    It is good to see that you have shade over the structure. That will help cooling.

    If your birds are out and about, give them plenty of places to hide from the overhead predators. Make sure you have roosters to call out alarms & protect to some degree. Sometimes turkeys can be a good warning bird for air predators, but raise it with the chickens so that it is attached. Guineas can also be raised with chickens (it will think it's a chicken) and will call out an alarm. I read of one who actually won against hawks. Personally, I think it was lucky. I would have a number of different "alarms" in place if we free ranged.

    A good dog that will protect your chickens and not chase or eat them is highly important if you are going to free range and you have coyotes. Roosters & turkeys taste good, you know. We can't free range due to the numerous foxes here. They can outsmart even the best dog. Our numerous coyotes have stayed far away due to the dog. We haven't seen foxes lately either, but I don't trust that we won't have a brave one come in either.

    Before you close them up at night, make sure that you inspect the space to make sure that you aren't closing them up with an enemy. I've heard of this happening. It was a great horned owl of all things. Thankfully no chickens were hurt.

    Insulation should not be an issue for you, and being down south, you should be able to keep almost any breed you want, even the most showy ones. A tip...big combed & wattled breeds are best for heat. Chickens don't sweat, but cool off through these.

    I think that's all I've got for you right now.

  • Lori Kinzer
    Lori Kinzer Posts: 4

    @LaurieLovesLearning Thank you for your tips and tricks. So excellent!

  • LaurieLovesLearning
    LaurieLovesLearning Moderator Manitoba, Canada 🍁 zone 3, PrairiesPosts: 4,642 admin

    You are welcome! 😄

    Let us know (and see) all about your finished project!

  • vickeym
    vickeym Posts: 944 ✭✭✭✭

    I grew up in Florida with farm animals. One thing I surely remember...There are snakes that love chicken eggs. Before you reach in nest boxes make sure you look closely. My brother reached in and grabbed a snake once. Luckily it could not bite him because it was eating an egg and mouth was full.

    Keep a close eye on them when it is hot. Even with the shade and ventilation it could get pretty hot in a metal building. One thing we used to do was save soda bottles and such. Fill them with water and freeze them. Then we would float a bottle or two depending on size in their water dishes. Helped keep the water cool so they could cool off easier. Also kept corn in the freezer as a cold treat for them when it was really hot. Could use other veggies or a mix for this.

  • Lori Kinzer
    Lori Kinzer Posts: 4

    @vickeym thank you!

  • LaurieLovesLearning
    LaurieLovesLearning Moderator Manitoba, Canada 🍁 zone 3, PrairiesPosts: 4,642 admin

    @vickeym That's interesting about the corn. Corn is given in winter to help heat their bodies. I have heard of folks given watermelon and other frozen things though.

    Another tip is to give them shallow pans/dishes of cool water to stand in.

  • Monek Marie
    Monek Marie Moderator Posts: 2,669 admin

    I have a special place in a coop for broowdy hens and an injured chicken. An injured chicken will get picked on and may suffer more or die from what happens. Its tought to hold a chicken and round up an extra pen for protections so I just have a place for that now. (two old rabbit pens I got for free)

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