How to make a chicken coop from a repurposed plastic barrel

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Darius Namdaran's recycled chicken coop

Wooden chicken houses can be a nightmare, especially when they are infested with red mite: hiding in every crack and crevice and tormenting your hens. Those recycled plastic chicken houses can be expensive though and even they have some design flaws!

As one of his projects for his Diploma in Applied Permaculture Design, Darius Namdaran set himself the goal of making a beautiful chicken coop from waste. The design brief was to make a DIY plastic coop from waste that outperforms an Eglu and that is beautiful. As Darius notes it was a challenge: Eglus perform well! His 5 years of observation showed some possible improvements though: the dropping tray got damp; the coop, tray and run were a little too small; woodchip spilled out of the run; and the door was fiddly.

I was impressed with the chicken coop when I visited his garden, especially the ventilation system which results in desiccated chicken poo, only needing to be cleaned out once every 6 months! Darius hires these coops out but you can also make your own (the design is free for personal use CC-BY-NC 3.0).  What follows is an extract from Darius’s website. Scroll down for a video tour of the coop.


The design

Gypsy caravan shape

A blue plastic barrel forms the basis of the coop. On its side it looks like a mini gypsy caravan. It is 100% waterproof.

A barrel coop


Self contained coop and run

Ideal suburban home and run for hens. Designed to keep them happy, healthy and safe.

 Ideal suburban home and run for hens. Designed to keep them happy, healthy and safe.


Dog, cat, fox and fool-proof

The flexible mesh stops foxes digging under. The rigid upper mesh stops any attack. The hens feel safe.

flexible mesh


Raised, slatted floor

A slatted floor means droppings fall through the gaps to a tray: it is cleaned once every 6 months. Also, no red mite!

slatted floor


One handed opening

Strong lock, easy one-handed opening and shepherds hook for storing on mesh.



Easy egg access

Large access door to get to the eggs and see the birds.

coop access


Healthy ventilation

The design uses body heat to drive warm old air out top vents, drawing cool fresh air in through lower vents.

coop vents


Removable poo tray

The dropping tray is easily removed. The cool air drawn over the top drys it out leaving no odours.

The removable poo tray - the best feature of this chicken coop!


Raised Feeders

Upcycled milk cartons used as raised feeders: They stay cleaner longer and birds can’t perch on them.

milk bottle feeders


Woodchip run

Deep woodchip with a 9″ frame means the chickens can continually peck and dig without it getting clogged up.



Expandable run

New ‘hoops’ can be inserted if more birds are wanted.

coop hoops



The hand painted coop means you can personalise it.

handpainted coop


Bike delivery

Designed to be delivered by bike.

Designed to be delivered by bike.



A tour of the completed coop


Darius has a YouTube channel where you can find a video of the first stages of making the coop to get you started.

Darius Namdaran’s suburban garden is a ScotLAND Centre and therefore an excellent place to see permaculture in action. To find out more, contact Darius or see more of his diploma projects, please visit his website.