What came first, the chicken the egg, or the coop?
*******The Omelette Parlor********
You know you're a redneck when your favorite exhibit at the zoo is the chickens.......no...seriously lol
Last year we moved into a new house with a backyard so I started thinking about it more and more. I had no clue what it really took to raise chickens, especially in a small backyard. It was the end of October 2013 when my wife gave me the go ahead to get some chickens. We quickly found some people out east with a bunch of newly hatched chicks. We picked up two Buffs and two Barred Rocks
I googled "raising chickens in your backyard" and TAH DAHHHH! I found backyardchickens.com This is my new favorite website. I started researching everything there is to know about chickens and what you need to start.
I didn't realize how fast these little chicks grew. I thought I was going to have more time to figure out the whole coop thing. I looked through every coop design there was.
I finally decided on the design I liked the best from my list of wants.
- Aesthetically pleasing
- enough room for the chickens to be comfortable when I can not let them roam the yard.
- easy to collect the eggs without entering the coop
- secure from predators because I have friends that lost many chickens from hawks, foxes, dog, cats...etc
- a way to keep them out of the elements, and way to heat the coop in the cold winters.
- and the most important thing...build it as cheaply as possible, which I thought was going to be the hardest part.
I want to start off by saying I have no prior experience in carpentry or contruction or building anything for that matter. I am just the type of person that likes to figure it out for myself. I did not have any blueprints or plans to go off of, partly because I did not want to pay for plans. I looked at other's design pictures and winged it.
I live in a neighborhood with new homes going up everywhere. I took another gentlemens advice from backyardchickens.com and stopped by one of the build sites. I talked to the supervisor and told him what I was building and asked if they had any scrap wood or miscut/ unuseable pieces. They have these dumpsters at each site where they throw away any wood that is left over or can't use because of knots/cracks. They actually pay money to dump all of these materials every day, so they welcomed me each day haha. It took me about 2 weeks of driving from site to site and talking to the construction supervisors to gather all of the wood and plywood I needed.
I bought a big box of 3" screws from Lowes which lasted the whole build ($25)
My dad and I started the basic frame. 6'x8' base with a 8'x10' roof giving a 1' overhang all around and about 6.5' tall in the front and about 5.5' tall in the back.
The floor of the enclosed part of the coop is 2.5 feet off the ground. 3'x6'
If anyone is wondering yet what that door is above the coop. Yes is it a door on the main level of my house that goes into nothing. Who ever originally bought the house did not have the deck option added. We are going to have a deck built over the coop next summer.
I didn't want the wood sitting directly on the ground in contact with moisture. So I went to Lowes and bought some concrete blocks ($30) it raised the coop off the ground 4". The next part of the framing were the roof joists and cross member in the middle of the walls for more support. I had to redo the roof part twice to figure out how the beams should sit. Again, no experience building lol.
Next step was putting cross member in between the roof beams and putting the plywood up for the roof. I had all different size pieces of plywood from the dumpsters at the building sites, so it was a little tricky getting it to work out, but it ended up just fine.
Next I made the frame for the nesting boxes. This was a pain in the butt. This was a slow process until I realized that pre-drilling saves sooooooo much time and energy. Also, I built the nesting boxes on the ground. Then,
when I got it right it was easy to mount to the coop.
Not bad for the first roof I have ever attempted. I watched many videos on youtube. I got the shingles and vapor barrier off of craigslist, 6 bundles for and the underlayment for $40!
I cut a piece of plywood to fit the coop floor and put up the hardware cloth. Hardware cloth is a lot stronger than chicken wire and it is smaller holes. I purchased a 3'x50' roll on amazon for $55 shipped which was half of the price of the local big box stores.
I stapled the hardware cloth to the frame then sandwiched 2x4s over it for added security and support. It made the whole coop extremely sturdy.
I framed the enclosed coop walls and covered it with particle board.
I continued piecing together the plywood and particle board for the walls and nesting boxes. The nesting box is 45" long and about 15" high. I divided it into 3 nesting boxes. I am sure I could have done less, but again I want my chickens to be comfortable There will be a window directly above the nesting box. I framed the door to the front of the coop (it's leaning against the front)
I got so much of this siding from the dumpsters so I decided to make it look like my house. It almost matched the color of my house. I finished the shingles on the nesting box.
I cut the door out for the coop and put a ramp for the chickens on.
Rear view of the coop
I put a door on the back of the coop to make it easier to clean. It has a slide bolt lock for security. I bought all of the hinges, slide bolt locks, latches, door springs, and other various hardware pieces from the Habitat for Humanity RESTORE for $18. I priced it all out at lowes and it would have cost me almost $100
Here you can see the door to the coop and the main door to the run.
The girls are ready get out of this box in my basement haha.
The chickens testing out their upgraded house.
First night in the coop. The heat lamp automatically turns on when the temp gets below 32 degrees and turns off at 42 degrees.
I installed two pirches and the hardware cloth over the window openings. I still need to frame the windows and find some free plexi glass.
I got a gollon of free paint at the Harzardous waste drop off. It is where people go to get rid off paint and other household cleaning stuff safely. Anyone can go there and pickup cleaning stuff and paint for free. Its not exactly the color I wanted though.
Another view of the inside. I put the dividers in the nesting boxes and a 2x6 board to block to try and divid the coop.
So I went back to the cities Hazardous waste drop off and got two gallons of light colored paint ($0 freeeeeeee!) and brought it to Lowes who matched it to my house's color for free.
finished framing the windows and got some free left over plexiglass from my uncle!
Here is the finished product!
I got home from work and went out back to check on the chickens and this was sitting on the roof. They were definitely stressed out. They had a hawk try swooping down on them the day before too.
Here is my 5 gallon bucket feeder and waterer. The feeder was made with two 90 degree PVC elbows put into two holes cut in the side. It holds 25 lbs of feed. Total cost $5. Waterer is just the bucket with x4 chicken waterer nipples bought on ebay. Total cost $5
My chicken herding dog
Feeding the chickens some oatmeal. They love it as a snack.
My son loves his chickens!
What are you looking at?
They do not like the snow haha
She hates the snow too
No eggs yet...At least they are getting used to their nesting boxes.
I added some more pirches to make the run more interesting for them.
I got my first egg!!! And it was on my birthday!!!
I was so excited!
The golf ball trick worked great
----COOP COST BREAKDOWN-------
plywood/particle board FREE
Siding pieces FREE
Paint (2 gallons) FREE
Roofing nails FREE
big box of 3" screws $25
foundation blocks $30
Heat lamp and regulator $25
5 gal. Bucket feeder $5
5 gal. Bucket waterer $5
Chickens x4 hens $20
No corn no soy non-GMO organic feed 25 lbs for $12.50
WHAT WOULD I DO DIFFERENTLY? And advice
I love how the coop came out. I probably would have tried to plan it out a little better beforehand to save time.
Definitely pre-drill your holes from the beginning, I wasted so much time and effort by not doing this until halfway through.
If you can get one or more people to help it goes much quicker. I did have my dad and my bro help me with a lot of it.
I would have made the enclosed part of the coop bigger.
I hope this helps someone who is doing their research on what kind of coop to build. This website was the best resource for me especially being a first time chicken owner and coop builder.. I continue to use backyardchickens.com as a reference for any questions I have regarding chickens. There are so many helpful people. If I can help with answer any questions let me know!