When raising chickens you may find that you want to let them free range but in a smaller, more protected area. This is especially true if your yard is boxed in by other houses or when you have seen hawks looping overhead. Fortunately, there are a plethora of DIY options out there that are also affordable, such as the DIY chicken hoop coop. Let’s take a look at this option, including the pros and cons, and the materials and steps for constructing one.
What is a Hoop Coop?
A hoop coop, also known as a hoop house or hoop barn, is a type of simple, portable, and often temporary structure used for housing and protecting livestock, particularly poultry like chickens. The design typically consists of a curved or semicircular frame made of metal or PVC pipes, covered with a durable material such as polyethylene plastic.
Key elements of a hoop coop:
- Frame: Usually constructed in a hoop or arch shape, resembling a tunnel. The frame can be made from anything lightweight yet sturdy, such as PVC pipe or metal tubes.
- Covering: Over the frame, you drape a durable and weather-resistant covering, such as a tarp made from polyethylene plastic. The covering doubles as a weather-shield, allowing chickens to roam in shade during the summer and stay out of the rain, wind, and snow any other time.
- Portability: Hoop coops are often made with lightweight materials that allow you to pick up said coop and move it to another section of yard.
Pros of a Hoop Coop
Here are some advantages to building a hoop coop:
- Easy to move: As mentioned, hoop coops are highly portable, making cleaning up after flock a breeze.
- Room to stand: Due to the arch often reaching 6 feet in height, you can easily get inside.
- Low cost: The materials required for building a hoop coop are inexpensive yet durable. A quick project that lasts for years is an excellent investment.
- Ventilation: Hoop coops make ventilation easy. With the tarp, you can drop the “walls” to seal in warmer air or keep the tarp lifted to provide your chickens with plenty of fresh air.
Cons of a Hoop Coop
While hoop coops are wonderful, they do come with some cons and limitations that you should carefully consider before constructing one:
- Security: Hoop coops may be less secure than enclosed, fixed structures, making them more vulnerable to predators. Extra measures, such as predator-proofing the base and adding locks or reinforcements, may be necessary.
- Limited Space: Hoop coops may offer less interior space compared to traditional fixed structures. This limitation can be a concern if you have a large flock or if you plan to keep birds in the coop for extended periods.
- Temperature Control: The open design of hoop coops allows for natural ventilation, but it may be less effective in extreme temperatures. Additional measures, such as shade cloth or extra insulation, may be needed to control temperature fluctuations.
- Maintenance: Hoop coops may require more frequent maintenance compared to fixed structures. Checking and repairing the frame, covering, and any movable parts is essential to ensure longevity.
How to Build a DIY Chicken Hoop Coop
Now that you have learned more about hoop coops — and are sold on the idea — let’s talk about the fun part: Building it.
- Pressure treated wooden boards (the number is determined by the desired area you want)
- Cattle panels – 16 feet x 4 feet
- Cable or zip ties or wire
- Galvanized plumber’s tape
- Fencing staples
- Construction screws – 3.5 inches
- Screws – 1 inch long
- Heavy gauge chicken wire
- Door hinges
- Gate or door latch
- Plywood – 1-2 sheets
- Heavy duty tarp (or corrugated roofing)
- Hardware cloth
The Tools You Will Need
- Impact gun or screwdriver
- Skill saw
- Staple gun
- Bolt cutters
- Tape measure
- Framing square
- Tie pliers
Calculating Size and Security
Before you grab a friend or spouse and start constructing your hoop coop, you will need to calculate the size of the coop you want to build and how secure it needs to be. Knowing the common predators will tell you exactly what is necessary. For example, if there are wolves or other sizeable predators ambling about, you will need something strong, so you may need to include solid wood supports and wire ties instead of zip ties to keep your chickens secure. If minks, stoats, or weasels are running around, consider installing a wire floor or adding some hardware cloth and chicken wire around the base of the hoop coop.
Once you have the figured out, it is time to decide how big the hoop coop needs to be. The beauty of the design is that you can essentially lengthen it by connecting as many cattle panels as necessary. You can also customize the head space. For example, if you want a coop that is 8 feet wide, the bow of the cattle panel will be around 8 feet tall.
Since cattle panels are 16 feet long by 4 feet wide, you only need two panels to get a coop that is 8 feet deep. So, how do you calculate the adequate space for your flock? Consider the number of chickens you have. Ideally, you want about 4 square feet of coop space or 8 square feet of run space per bird. If you make an 8 foot by 12 foot base frame, you could easily fit 12 chickens. For a larger flock, you may need to extend the length of the base and get a few more cattle panels, making a longer tunnel.
Constructing Your Hoop Coop
For the purpose of this DIY, let’s assume that you are making an 8 foot wide, 12 foot long, and 8 foot high hoop coop. You will need 3 cattle panels.
Take a look at this video for some tips and tricks on how to construct your hoop coop. Please note that the steps in the video are not the same as the ones listed below (this is meant for visual aid):
With that in mind, here are the steps:
1. Constructing the Base Frame
Begin your DIY hoop coop project by building the base frame. For the purpose of this guide, you will need a 2×4 frame, consisting of 4 pieces of pressure treated wood. Screw the 2x4s together with 3.5 inch construction screws, making the 8 foot wide by 12 foot long frame.
Add some extra durability to the frame by cutting 16 inch long corner supports with a 45-degree angle on each end. These will fit into the 90-degree angles formed by the base frame. Ensure that these supports are close to the ground so that you have plenty of room to fit the cattle panels. Screw or drill these corner supports into place.
2. Adding the Hoop
To attach the hoops — also known as the cattle panels — you may need a second person to help you. To make a 12 foot long coop, you need 3 panels, as mentioned earlier. If you want to go smaller, around 8 feet long, you will only need 2. Bend the cattle panel so that it forms the arch and fit both ends against the wooden base frame that you have constructed.
Next, begin securing the cattle panels into place with the sheet metal ties and/or fencing staples. For added strength and security, use the galvanized plumbers tape. Lastly, secure the panels together every 12-16 inches (vertically down the seam) with zip ties or wire.
3. Building the Door
No coop is complete with a door. You have a couple of options here. If you have door that you would like to install, build the frame according to those specifications. Otherwise, you can continue following to make a frame of a plywood door.
You will need 2 more 2×4 posts that are 8 feet long (if you make a slightly shorter or taller hoop coop, make sure these posts are cut to the length of the hoop’s arch). Space these posts about 28 inches apart. Anchor the door’s frame to the base frame with screws. Next, cut another header that spans the length between those two posts, anchoring it at the top of both.
You have the option of connecting this wooden frame to the top of the hoop with fencing staples or plumber’s tape.
About halfway up the posts, take a measurement of the distance from the door frame to the curve of the hoop. Cut another two pieces of 2×4 wood. Screw these two pieces to the inside of the door frame, as this will serve as a future anchor point for your chicken wire. Where the wood meets the cattle panel, use fencing staples.
4. Adding the Door and Latch
Add the latches in the appropriate spot, depending on the door you are using or making. If you are using plywood, cut the door to fit the size of the frame. Then mount the door to the hinges. Install a latch and, optionally, a handle on the opposite side of the hinges.
5. Constructing The Rear Frame
Once you have the door in place, it is time to make the rear frame. This frame will mirror the one you just constructed, minus the doorway. You do not want to skip this step, as the frame will add some rigidity to the overall design and allow the roof to bear some weight.
Again, you will need 2×4 posts, 8 feet long. Run them vertically from the base frame to the top of the hoop’s arch. Connect these posts to the base frame as well as to the hoop. Add the horizontal pieces, as well by measuring the distance from the door frame to the curve of the hoop. Secure into place using the same method as before.
6. Hardware Cloth and/or Chicken Wire
At this point, you are ready to add a bit of extra security to your DIY chicken hoop coop. Cut a length of 1/4 inch hardware cloth or chicken wire that is about 30 inches high (possibly meeting the horizontal beams you made), and attach it along bottom of the base frame around the perimeter. The hardware cloth serves as a barrier to keep mink, weasels, stoats and other small predators from going after your chickens and eggs. You can also add some chicken wire over the curve of the hoop to keep climbing predators out.
To secure the wire, you can use zip ties and fence staples. Ensure there are no gaps between the hardware cloth or chicken wire when putting it in place.
7. Securing the Tarp
Take your tarp and, using tie wire, connect the grommets to the cattle panels on both sides of the coop. The size of the tarp is up to you. Consider how much sun the coop will see, how much ventilation you need, and the wind. If you are putting a tarp on and see blustery conditions, consider adding some weight to the bottom of the hoop coop, such as stakes or bricks, to keep it from flying away.
8. Optional Additions
Depending on how permanent of a fixture you want this hoop coop to be, you may want to consider adding some perches, nesting boxes, and food and watering areas. If you want to move the hoop coop, you do not have to include nesting boxes and roosting areas, as this will make the coop heavier. Keep in mind that your chickens will need a separate space for their egg-laying, if that is what you decide.
For chickens that are less happy with being confined, you may want to consider hanging some toys from the cattle panels or adding roasts to encourage contentment.
Another optional addition is a free-standing central pillar. There are some designs out there that use a cut long positioned upright against the peak of the hoop’s arch to add some resilience. You could also anchor this central pillar, but do keep in mind that this would make the hoop coop harder to move.
Tips for Maintaining Your Hoop Coop
Congratulations, you have your hoop coop. Now, you want to ensure that your investment lasts a long time and keeps your chickens happy. Here are some tips to maintain your coop:
- Choose Well-Drained Areas: Place the hoop coop on well-drained pastures to prevent waterlogging, which can lead to infections and diseases in your flock.
- Avoid Overcrowding: Maintain a spacious environment by providing at least 8 square feet of space per bird. Overcrowding can lead to stress, aggression, and an increased risk of diseases.
- Practice Good Pasture Management: Avoid placing chickens on excessively long grass, as this may hinder their ability to forage effectively.
- Adjust Tarp Coverage: Modify the tarp coverage based on weather conditions. Increase airflow during the summer to prevent overheating, and reduce exposure during the winter to provide additional warmth. Observing your birds’ response to temperature changes will guide your adjustments.
- Monitor for Pests: Regularly inspect the coop for signs of pests or parasites. Implement preventive measures and promptly address any infestations to ensure the health and well-being of your flock.
- Regular Structural Checks: Periodically inspect the hoop coop’s structure for wear and tear. Address any damage promptly to ensure the longevity and safety of the coop.
Final Thoughts on the DIY Chicken Hoop Coop
There you have it — a complete guide for building a DIY chicken hoop coop. This is one weekend project that you will not regret. Chicken hoop coops are a versatile and cost-effective way to protect your chickens throughout the day while giving them some space to roam. The simplicity of its design, combined with the ability to relocate the coop easily, offers practical advantages. Remember to maintain your coop, so you have a space where your chickens can be content. Happy clucks all around.
Valerie has been content writing since 2016 for websites and companies all around the world. A traveler, dancer, martial artist, Valerie loves gathering experiences and wisdom. Her travels have taken her to over 20 countries, and she hopes to see more of the world soon.