Building a Chicken Condo Complex on the Small House Homestead

This chicken coop and enclosed run has been our big summer project here on the Small House Homestead. This addition has more than doubled our chicken keeping capacity, from 4 hens to 8+. We are putting the finishing touches on it now with the goal of having it finished before the first snowfall arrives. This project began last summer when we adopted a momma Cochin and her four Cochin/Phoenix babies. We knew that we needed a safe coop for them and by winter realized we also needed a covered run to give them a place to move around throughout the long 6-month Michigan winter. We finished all but the roof and as the snowy weather moved in we put a tarp over it temporarily for the 2014-2015 winter. We built a small 48” X 48” coop created from mostly repurposed material we were given, found or scrounged. Details of that process can be found here…-coop-unveiled. In the spring of 2015 we brought home 4 Rhode Island Reds hens from the hatchery and we knew we needed a home for them as well. So a second coop was built, patterned after the design of the first one, but larger to accommodate the size of the larger Rhode Island Red birds. That developed into a second covered run and the “Chicken Condo Complex” was born. Our homestead now has three fenced in pasture areas, each separated by its own gate. This gives the hens plenty of space to scratch and peck and free range within the safety of fenced in boundaries. We have been working hard all summer and are only lacking a bit of chicken wire, installing the wooden shutters on the six ventilation screen and a few knobs an we will be done.Happy chickens lay healthy and tasty eggs! More details and pictures can be found on the Small House Big Sky blog at
The Small House "Chicken Condo Complex" is located under the shade giving White Oak tree and includes two coops, two covered runs, two fenced in pastures and a fenced in netted run built using greenhouse hoops, 10 cement blocks and one package of deer netting - seen on the right hand side of this photo.
The Rhode Island Reds newly built coop with enclosed run in progress. This has a dirt and grass floor and when fall arrives I will add a deep layer of White Oak leaves which are plentiful here. The chickens will be able to scratch and peck in the leaves all winter.
A view of the complex from the opposite direction better shows the enclosed run section. This has chicken wire stapled to it which is open to the air and breeze in warm weather and has plastic covered "storms" screwed on for the winter to help block air and blowing snow.
The sandbox in the corner of the covered run allows our hens to dust bathe all winter long for optimal health.
In this image the white corrugated plastic roofing is going on both covered runs. This is rain proof keeping the run snug and dry and can stand up to our deep MI snowfall which mostly slides off as the day warms.
This gate leads into the netted run which also houses the Cochins covered run. The fence has two layers of wire over it to protect the birds from predators.
The Cochin pullets in their coop. This coop opens up into the shared covered run as well as their own private outdoor run. This entry point will help give me a clean out area as well as give us another option for the hens to go in and out when the snow gets 5 to 6 ft. deep.
Our homemade gate leads into the black raspberry patch run. We had a torn tarp that we cut into two pieces and stapled onto the fencing to give the hens some protection from the high winds we get here just 17 miles inlands from the Lake Michigan lakeshore.
This photograph shows the inside of the shared covered run with both coops on view. The Cochin's coop is on the right hand side and the Rhodies coop is center rear. This is the space they will have to use as a playpen this winter.
The original coop in the fenced in run. The top is open to the elements during the summer and is insulated, secured using hardware cloth and is closed off to the wind with boards for the winter months.

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