How to Turn a Horse Stall Into a Chicken Coop
Chicken coops can come in all shapes and sizes. In our Coop Tour series, we have shown you chicken tractors, using a high tunnel for a farmstead brooder, and how to predator proof your coop. In this post, we are going to show you how you can turn a horse stall into a chicken coop.
Expensive Part Is Done
When building a chicken coop, the hardest and most expensive part is usually building the structure itself. The size of the coop, location, materials available, and your budget all need to be taken into consideration when building a new coop. When converting a horse stall into a chicken coop, this hard part is mostly all already done!
Every coop needs just a few basic things: roosting bars, nesting boxes, feeders, waterers, security, and good ventilation. Planning a coop can be overwhelming with all the different options available, but turning a horse stall into a chicken coop gives you some set parameters to help narrow down your choices and make it easier to design.
Pop Door Options
You will want to work with the current stall door opening to be your coop opening to save on time, cost, and structural integrity of the stall. If the stall has a sliding door, you can use this for your coop door (with a few modifications) since sliding stall doors usually close pretty tightly to the wall. You would want to add chicken wire or welded wire hardware cloth over the bars or openings of the stall door to make it more predator proof and secure for your chickens inside, and make sure the door has a good latch. If the stall has a swinging gate, you can either leave this up as an extra layer of security or remove it to make room for a chicken coop-appropriate door.
Keep Out Predators
Next, you will want to make sure the entire stall is predator proof by covering any openings with chicken wire or welded wire hardware cloth. Even with large horses in the barn near the coop, predators like raccoons and opossums may still come into the barn looking for leftover feed. I go over the whole stall from top to bottom to make sure every opening is covered for the safety of the chickens. Even if the stall has bars on the dividers, you should still cover those with chicken wire or welded wire hardware cloth to make sure nothing can reach in between the bars.
Now that the horse stall is secure with a chicken coop appropriate door and the openings are covered, you can plan the layout of the stall to work best for you as a chicken coop. I like using 2x4s turned wide side up as roosting bars so the chickens can get their whole foot on the roost and then will be covered when they settle down to roost, which protects their toes from frostbite in cold temperatures. You can attach roosting bars along the length of the center stall divider wall using support braces to keep your ground clearance open and make it easier to clean underneath the roosts.
Nesting boxes are another place where you can get creative in your coop. You can buy rready-made nesting boxes, build your own with wood, or use things like feed buckets turned on their side and filled with bedding. These turf pads make it easy to clean out nesting boxes and sprinkling some of these nesting box herbs can help keep nesting boxes clean and your hens happy.
Feeders and Waterers
I recommend hanging your feeder to keep waste and debris out of the feed. There are mixed reviews about keeping waterers inside the coop, mainly because the added moisture in the winter can increase the chances of frostbite in the winter, but this will be up to your own personal opinion and situation. I have my waterer inside my coop during the day and dump out the water at night because we don’t have a connected run on our stall coop (if I did I would have the water outside).
Another thing you will want to consider when turning a horse stall into a chicken coop is will horses or other animals still be in the barn and if so, how close will they be to the coop? Horses especially create a lot of ammonia in their manure and urine so you will want to take extra measures to protect the air quality inside the barn by keeping the other stalls and horse areas clean and using ammonia and moisture-absorbing products like Sweet PDZ.
If you have an extra horse stall in your barn, turning it into your chicken coop can be a great way to utilize the space! If you have a horse stall coop, we would love to see pictures! Tag Meyer Hatchery in your photos on social media for us to repost!
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Thank you! We are raising some chicks and plan to make a chicken coop out of the horse stall that was here when we moved in. It doesn’t have a gate/door, so we will have to build one if you have any suggestions. But this has been really helpful!
Thanks for reading the blog, Erika! A simple wooden gate with hardware cloth (not chicken wire) is probably the easiest and most cost effective way to make a chicken-proof gate for a horse stall. Standard 2 by 4 lumber should be plenty sturdy enough.
I’m struggling with how to provide direct access to the outside. The walls are brick and I would prefer to not cut through it to add a hatch. There is a window in the stall and I suppose framing s part of it as the access hatch would work.
Hi Teija. Thanks for reading our blog and your comment. I agree, I would also hesitate to cut through a brick wall to make a pop door to the outside for your chickens. The chickens could certainly learn now to walk a plank to get to the outside through the window, and that does sound like the easiest and least destructive (for the barn) way to add outdoor access. Best of luck in the remodel!
Curious about your thoughts on my set up.
SO we did what you did (above) and they are able to free range in the afternoon for a few hours.
They cannot see out of the stall during the day ( we wired above the half door) Do I need to allow them to view the outside world? Do they care?
they have everything they need but are used to living in a chicken tractor with view all day long. Too many chickens to keep using that…
( also getting them to roost up at night has been a nightmare- i am thinking i need to just keep them locked in for a week or so….not sure. Last night they roosted in their tractor again….)
Hi Jenni. Thank you for reading the Meyer Hatchery blog! Chickens do not need to see out a window and adding a door down low for them to use would add another entry point for nocturnal predators. When you move a flock from one coop to another (or from a tractor to a barn in your case) there will be a learning period involved. They will try to go back to what they know as their home, the old tractor. You may need to leave them locked in the barn for a few days to a week while they reprogram themselves and learn to roost on the bars at night. They’ll eventually get it.
I am also planning to turn a stall into a chicken home in my stable. My horse passed last year, and even if she were still alive, all the horses I have had since 1970 have been stall broke for urine only, so ammonia would never have been a problem. I have taken the sliding door to the outside off, and will be framing the concrete block with wood and make a door to fit the opening. I will put a chicken door in that man door, and will probably get an automatic door opener for it. My stall is 12′ x 12′ so I can have up to 36 chickens, but plan on keeping the number to around 20. I may get a nesting setup that allows the eggs to roll down, and will probably have at least 10, more than I may need but i will also put in some nests larger than standard in case more than one hen wants company. I have electric in the stable, overhead fan, and heated water buckets which I will fit with nipples or cups, which ever is best for the hens. I will put feed in PVC tubes, and decide where all the other things they need should go. Water outside would just freeze so inside is the way to go in brutal Pennsylvania winters. My stall walls are 2 cement block and two wood. I will bring 1/2″ x 1/2″ welded wire from the tops of the two wood sides up to the rafters. My current stall is a half door but fits so close to the concrete center between the two stalls that nothing will be able to get under the door, not even a mouse. The whole stable has a concrete floor, a center drain, and heavy 5/8″ rubber mats on the stall floors. I plan on trying the deep litter method, which I have never seen in use, but it would be good compost for the garden and may be worth trying it out. Please look my post over and give me your suggestions for what I want to do. I could use the input of those with experience and would certainly change my plans for better ideas than mine. Thanks very much. Ida
Hi Ida. It sounds like you’ve thought through your plan well. The only issue I forsee is that you may want to cover the overhead space between rafters with hardware cloth also. The chicken will learn to roost up there at night and it may also be another entry point for smart predators like racoons and mink. Enjoy renovating your barn for chickens!