What I Did:
I decided that I wanted to build a chicken coop to house my 10 new chicks. I didn’t have any experience to speak of (unless you count building a VERY simple nightstand for my bedroom), or much of a budget to work with, but I determined that I would just figure it out along the way.
I tried, whenever possible, to used recycled/reclaimed materials (from my uncle’s old barn, from down the street when a neighbor gutted his house, etc.) to help keep the cost down.
I ended up with a great little coop, but it took me all spring and summer to build it. It was a pretty steep learning curve!
How I Did It:
The first thing I did was to buy a used two-story wooden play structure. I (mistakenly) thought this would make things go faster. It didn’t. I ended up only using the ‘floor’ sections for my own coop floor (I took the 2 stories and made them into one larger floor), and the roof (which I added shingles to).
I put the floor about 3 feet off the ground and surrounded the space underneath with chicken wire. I ran a ramp down through the floor to create a chicken run under the coop. While I wrestled with the building, the chicks were growing daily and rapidly approaching the space limits of the cardboard box they were living in. Because of this, I decided to build the coop in two stages, creating a temporary back wall that enabled me to bring the chicks out while continuing to build.
Once I finished this second phase, I also enlarged the chicken run to include an 8x12 addition off to one side of the coop.
I ended up with several sets of shutters from the house down the street, which I used as shutters around the picture window. But I also used them for two sets of doors into the coop and chicken run. Even the paint was from the mis-mixed section of the paint store.
I feel good about the amount of recycled and reclaimed materials in the coop, but it also created extra problems as I tried to piece a bunch of random pieces together. It also didn’t save me as much money as I’d hoped, but at least it was a smaller carbon foo print.
- Build a coop BEFORE you get chicks!
- A coop is going to take a lot longer to build than you anticipate.
- Baby chicks grow at amazing speed.
- Having a plan is a good thing.
- If you don't know what you're doing, getting help is smart.
- Using recycled/reclaimed materials is great, but it's still going to cost a surprising amount of money (for hardware, shingles, chicken wire, good wood for supports, etc.) for the additional supplies you'll need.
- Adding shingles to a roof makes the roof a LOT heavier. It's best to add them after the roof is in place.