What started with BIG BIG dreams and plans ended up being a practical, low-cost open-air hen house.
We are beginner chicken owners and knew very little about egg production. After reading, drafting, reading some more, and looking at hundreds of coops here at BYC.com I concluded: (1) Chickens will get things dirty, (2) Chickens don't care if their coop is painted Red or Yellow, (3) This is, after all, a Chicken coop and not a summer home.
We live in an older neighborhood outside of the city limits; our backyard is very large. After numerous sketches of a brand-new run and coop (and an estimate of $400 to spend) we had a BRIGHT IDEA to reduce, reuse, recycle! We had a metal storage building at the back of our property that was housing lawn equipment and paint cans - could we turn this into a coop? YES WE CAN! I googled "converting metal building into chicken coop" and voila! I wasn't the first one to think of this. There were many a great inspirations to browse and we were off...
With a second set of skilled hands and lots of water (it's hot here in TX) we finished our Hen House in Three Days!
(A) CLEAN & CLEAN - While my daughter napped I set to clean out the storage building. Everything had to go! Into a BIG pile it went until my husband could decide where to put it all. This was the only issue we had with this project....where were we to put these stored items. It took a bit of figuring, but most items were able to me thrown away, given away or placed in the garage.
(B) DEMOLISH - This was so easy! The building is metal and 10'x10'. Rather than being 10' solid metal pieces most of these building are metal panels screwed together. I decided I wanted to remove two panes on the door side and three on the opposite wall. This allows for a lot of air to move through and my little ladies have a great view of the yard. The panels were removed with just a turn of the screwdriver and are now in a nice pile. I then went around and brushed down every surface to remove access dirt and spiderwebs. To give it an even better clean I had a bucket of water and sponge and wiped down everything. The building looked brand new!
(C) FRAME & FILL - Using left-over 2'x4' boards my husband and father-in-law framed in the "holes" created by removing the metal panels. They used metal "L" brackets to join the board corners. We spent about $60 on 3 rolls of 1/4" hardware cloth (I chose this rather than chicken wire because of its sturdiness and it's small gap sizes to keep out any unwanted critters). Grabbing a hammer and U-shaped Fence staples, we had the hardware cloth attached to the frame in no-time. It was then time to pick up the frame and place it with the metal building. The frame sits just-in the metal so there is a slight overlap of metal onto the frame - this allowed them to screw the metal onto the board frame and secure the structure. We left the metal corner piece in for support. I then asked them to add center and diagonal beams for aesthetics and added support. When I have a free weekend I will paint the building RED and the wood frames WHITE.
(D) INTERIOR DECORATING - We used an old cabinet frame to support the nest boxes (which I purchase at Target for $3 each.) I take them out each weekend to clean and disinfect. I also store the feed and alfalfa inside the cabinet frame - my ladies have yet to sit on any of these. We have two roosting posts on two corners of the building and are about to add another long roost between the two. I found an awesome chicken feeder at an antique store and we made a chicken water system out of a ($3) 5gallon water bucket and $20 (for 6) chicken nipples (this was super easy to do); both are suspended by a rope.
OVERALL, THE PROJECT TOOK 3 DAYS AND LESS THAN $150.
*We purchased our hens from a local feed store. Because we are not ready to raise chicks and it is so hot we decided to go with mature, egg-laying hens. We have had them for a little over a week and one of our ladies is now laying eggs! We have (2) Buff Orpington and (2) Speckled Sussex - they all came with their beaks trimmed but they are all growing back You will also notice that we have a box fan blowing into the coop. It is fun watching the hens walk by the fan and let their feathers blow into the wind to cool off.
Below are photos of the interior and exterior of our coop.
My daughter loves her chickens and they are surprisingly tolerant of her!
*Allie (left on ladder) & My Daughter Clare (right)
* Pretty Girl on the ladder
*No Name (left) & Ya-Ya (right)
*my fun Antique Store find
* a few fake eggs to show the hens what I'd like for them to do!
* Our Hen House! Notice the fan on the right. Unlike in this photo, the coop is shaded 70% of the day.
We have plans of adding on a run outside of the coop
and also allowing our little ladies free run of the yard (when the dogs are inside).