Confused about Coops

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Country Dreamin', Jan 25, 2011.

  1. Country Dreamin'

    Country Dreamin' Out Of The Brooder

    Nov 29, 2010
    I am doing my research on chickens and housing and i am very overwhelmed about the coop.

    First off, i didn't realize how expensive pre-fab coops and even garden sheds were! How the heck i am going to afford this? Secondly, how do i justify this to my husband....they are not laying golden eggs..[​IMG]. There has got to be a cheaper way to do it. What are the average costs to build your DIY coops? What is the square footage and how many chickens do you have?

    Secondly, i am having a hard time understanding the space rule. I have read 4 sq for every chicken. It seems like if i want to have 8 layers and 10 meat birds i am going to need to have a GIGANTIC coop! Is this rule only for when they live just in the coop and dont go outside? I plan on letting my chickens run all over my property. I apologize is that is a really dumb question....

    Thanks everyone!
  2. Dogfish

    Dogfish Rube Goldberg incarnate

    Mar 17, 2010
    Western Washington
    Meat birds and layers should be kept separate. They have different needs.

    You could raise 10 meat birds in a space like this.
    I raised 20 in two of these structures for 8 weeks as a test to see how they performed versus ones outside, 10 birds in each.

    Your coop can be smaller IF you have a permanent SECURE run.
  3. MamaChic21

    MamaChic21 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 2, 2010
    Jackson, NJ
    there are lot of ways you can build a coop or a shed for your birds, such as wood pallets. There are some places you can get them for free. You gotta be creative and look around to see what you can use to build it. I am also at the battle of trying to find something that accomidates 25 birds. I now use the shed we got for storage and dog kennel we got for our dogs. It all depends on your taste. Chickens don't care how beautiful the coop looks like, they care if they have enough room, clean air, food and etc...
    Good luck on your research, hope everything turns out.
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2011
  4. JustAChickenLittle&More

    JustAChickenLittle&More Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 25, 2010
    Wow ruby, I actually like that! Pretty cool! I bought a dog yard for my first pen. It was 10x10 and 4 feet high. I put mesh around it of course because the holes were big enough so weasels could get inside. I put a tarp on for the roof, and used bungee cords to tie the tarp down. It worked perfect! I had 15 chickens in there I believe. Most of them were teenagers. [​IMG] 4 inches of pine shavings, turned over once a week and added as needed. You can also build your own coop for a lot less money than fabricated ones.
  5. CoyoteMagic

    CoyoteMagic RIP ?-2014

    Prefabs are out. Lots of them are made of thin wood that wont last a year, 2 at the most, and that's with several layers of paint.

    Craigslist and Freecycle for all that you need. Plastic kids playhouses can be had for 1/2 of what they cost originally or even free. Same for outdoor dog kennels.

    Lowe's and Home Depot have dumpsters!! You can find lots of scrap wood they can't sell there.

    Craigslist and Freecycle for pallets, decks being torn down--I've got 2 coops built of 2x6 deck boards!!, doors, windows, etc. Dog houses work as small coops too!

    Habitat Re-store has doors and windows as well.

    We had someone on here build a coop out of all recycled material including popbottles!! Here it is
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2011
  6. Cindy in PA

    Cindy in PA Overrun With Chickens

    Jul 8, 2008
    Fleetwood, PA
    Our 8 by 8 coop cost about $500 in 1993. We had free fencing from a State Game farm at that point. I have since gotten 2 free kennels & bought a 50 ft. roll of welded wire to fashion the 300 Sq. ft run I have now. We did put on new shingles leftover from our house redo in 2006. So that is maybe $600 over 18 years. It presently houses 14 chickens, but I have had up to 20 in there.

    Last year we built a 4 by 6 coop (moveable) with a 12 by 4 enclosed run. That cost over $400, but again all the wood was new & we did the run in hardware cloth. That houses 9 bantams right now.

    I have seen plenty of larger sheds on Craiglist for less than $500. You just have to search intently all the time. It isn't cheap to build a coop, but if built right, it will last a long time.
  7. maizey

    maizey Chillin' With My Peeps

    its going to be hard to justify start up costs.. It was for me anyway. Spent waaaaay more than I had in mind. But hubby and I did at least agree that we wanted quality food..not necessarily cheap food, and wanted some small ammount of control over that food. Chickens also make me happy and are relaxing and take my mind off lifes money isnt always the only factor involved. Having said that, you would be surprised what people are willing to part with at yard sales, craigs list etc....If you keep your eyes open you can probably gather up everything you need and then some for little to noting. Good luck!
  8. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    Country Dreamin' :

    First off, i didn't realize how expensive pre-fab coops and even garden sheds were! How the heck i am going to afford this?

    Buy secondhand, a shed or playhouse from craigslist etc. Or, scrounge up (as opposed to 'pay full retail price for') some materials and build something yourself.

    Secondly, i am having a hard time understanding the space rule. I have read 4 sq for every chicken. It seems like if i want to have 8 layers and 10 meat birds i am going to need to have a GIGANTIC coop!

    Honestly there is no magic number. A lot of BYCers keep their chickens at 4 sq ft apiece indoors plus suitable outdoor space; some keep them in less space; personally I have tried that and seen how they behave and will never keep them at less than 10-15 sq ft apiece *plus outdoors*.

    If you wanted to give 4 sq ft apiece to 8 layers, that would only be a 4x8 coop, not very big at all! (Plus a run, or free range, or ideally both)

    Meat chickens are a bit of a different thing... if you mean CornishX (supermarket style) birds, they can more-reasonably be kept in crowded conditions than layers can because they do not move around as much and also will only be "enjoying" your coop for 6-8 weeks before you kill and eat them. So a lot of people will keep them in 2-4 sq ft apiece TOTAL, and they do reasonably ok although sanitation/air-quality is a GIANT NIGHTMARE and you WILL NOT WANT THEM IN YOUR LAYER COOP, I am serious. (Even CornishX do benefit from more room and an outdoor run, though, at least health- and happiness-wise, although moving around more can mean slightly lower feed conversion efficiency). So if you wanted to give your 10 meaties 4 sq ft apiece total, that would mean something 4x10 or 5x8.

    A whole lot of the space-requirement thing depends on your climate though. If you live in, like, Hawaii, and LITERALLY the chickens will never ever want to spend much of a day indoors because it is so yucky out, then truthfully all you need is room for adequate roosting space (8-12" per chicken is plenty -- this pertains only to layers, not meaties). If OTOH you live somewhere with viciously cold or snowy winters, then it is hard to predict what your particular chickens will do but quite often they will not want to go outside much if at all for days or even weeks at a time, and it is a real good idea to give extra space so they do not start killing each other.

    The two main considerations space-wise are a) the more crowded they are, the more burdensome sanitation becomes and the harder it is to ensure adequate ventilation; and b) the more crowded they are, the likelier they will start engaging in pecking/cannibalism -- yes, they WILL kill each other if they happen to be grumpy that day or if they peck someone enough to see blood and get all excited about it -- and note that pecking/cannibalism problems cannot *always* be solved by providing more space, sometimes it becomes such a habit that the only thing to do is make a whoooole lotta chicken n dumplings and start a new flock.

    But honestly it is not like you are proposing to have SO many chickens... I do not know what climate you are in, but for most peoples' purposes you'd do fine with a 4x8 or 6x8 (or larger if you can get it!) layer coop (e.g. secondhand garden shed) with a 5x8 lean-to roof built off one side to make a 3-walled pen for your meaties.

    Good luck, have fun,

  9. puredelite

    puredelite Chillin' With My Peeps

    I have found that for me I can house more chickens than the 4 sq. ft. rule as mine have a sizeable fully enclosed run and on bad weather days when they chose to stay inside they mainly sit on the roost and only are on the floor to eat or drink.Maybe being a little crowded also helps them to stay warmer in winter. As for a coop, yes the startup cost is a little pricey but this sight is just full of ideas and info. You may want to find a small sawmill in your area as "rough-cut" lumber is normally a good deal cheaper than dimension lumber at the Depot, Lowe's, etc. 'Specially now that home building is down, lumber prices are also down. Some sawmills have a scrap/cull pile that usable lumber can be had quite cheap. Chickens aren't that hard to please, they just need a home that is safe, dry and blocks the wind. Have fun!

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