Trying to build a free/cheap materials coop that will be good through winter

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by sodamancer, Jun 4, 2012.

  1. sodamancer

    sodamancer In the Brooder

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    I live in the PNW and our winters are fairly mild with 3 weeks or so of truly nasty weather most years. I do not want to spend a ton on a coop. In fact i would like to try to build it for 100$ or less. So what can/should i use for the nesting box area/inside coop area. Will buckets work as nesting boxes? I have some large 3in radius limbs from my fir trees.....can i use those without for the frame? Roofing? so i need shingles or will plastic work? I have looked and looked and looked again for free/natural material built coops and am coming up with very little. any direction would be great. I have 5chicks and will bring in 1-3 more this week. they are 3ish weeks old. How much time do i have before they need the coop? I am very visual and hearing or reading is not the same as seeing pictures. thanks in advance
     
  2. DenverBirds

    DenverBirds Hatching

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    I just finished our under-$100 coop today. Our girls are about 2 months old, and we had them in a giant rubbermade tub setup until today, when I moved them into the coop. I know you said you prefer pictures but my wife is out of town with our camera. So I will explain with words and maybe post pictures at a later date. Maybe send me a message later and I can post crappy phone pictures on the internet for you to see. For what it's worth, I've lived in Portland, OR and Eureka, CA, so I can imagine what a coop would need in those areas. Make it waterproof!

    Best advice: scrounge lumber! The free section on Craigslist and re-purposed building goods stores are good. I work in construction/carpentry, so I have the opportunity to get free lumber and building products when we demolish parts of homes that are being remodeled. Maybe you have a friend in that line of work. Here in Denver, there's a place called The Lumber Guy that sells scratch and dent lumber for cheap, and you can haggle. Find a place like that. Or when I lived in Portland, there was a store on the hip stretch of Milwaukee Street that sold salvaged building and architectural stuff. Sometimes Habitat for Humanity has stores like that, too, but not in all cities.

    Small tips: Cut up bicycle tubes make great weatherstripping for doors. Our friends swear by them. Or get the strips of sticky-backed foam weatherstripping at Home Depot (I hate buying from them) for $3. Cut off ends of lumber work well for holding open lids (like on our nest box) and windows. Look for people in your neighborhood getting a new fence installed - where is the old fence? The 4x4 posts and 2x4 or 2x2 stringers from the old fence are great for building a coop. In fact "furring strips" (also Home Depot, yuck), are super cheap and for our small coop - built to house six chickens - I didn't need 2x4, except in a couple of important structural locations. I haven't had much luck with Freecycle, but some people swear by it. It's a group/listserve thing that you have to sign up for and it seems like a more reliable version on the free section on Craigslist. I just made a feeder and waterer out of PVC pipe today. The cost was cheaper than pre-made versions. You could also do the 5-gallon-bucket watering system instead of buying what is exactly the same thing for much, much more. Any home-improvement store sells stick-it flooring tiles (12"x12") for 25 cents or less. I put them over my plywood floor so that cleanup will be easier in the future.

    I did have to buy a few things. You don't really see used and still actually usable roof shingles anywhere. They get destroyed when you tear them off to replace the roof. I had to buy a pack of shingles, but I suppose you could probably find corrugated plastic roofing used or free. I have been unable to find wire fencing/chicken wire as of yet. That stuff is expensive, so we're free ranging for now, and I plan on making sure they are in the coop a little before dark - there is a fox in our city neighborhood that cruises our alley about once a week. You will have to buy screws and nails and door latches, but those won't break your budget.

    Things I already owned that made life easier: a cordless drill, a circular saw, a chop saw, building (specifically framing) knowledge. If you don't posses these things, try to find somebody you know or an acquaintance who does. You'll have to pay for the labor, of course, but at least you'll be able to provide the free or near-free materials. If you have enough hens maybe trade a weekly supply of eggs to defray the cost.

    Notes on your post:
    I wouldn't use plastic sheeting for a roof. There's no sure-fire way or making sure water doesn't creep under the plastic and soak into the wood of the roof, or into the coop itself.
    I have seen "buckets" for nesting boxes - they are actually pre-made and manufactured specifically as nesting boxes, but they are kind of expensive.
    Your birds ought to have all their feathers by the time it gets cold in the State of Jefferson, so they should be cold-hardy.
    You could use your tree limbs for the structure, but if they are freshly cut, they will dry out and shrink, loosening all the screws or nails and essentially ruining the structural integrity of the coop. Ask a timber-framer about such things.
     
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2012
    1 person likes this.
  3. DenverBirds

    DenverBirds Hatching

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    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/7333301720/" title="The girls have moved in by sthslvrcnfsn, on Flickr"><img src="http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7226/7333301720_f9d68896ba_z.jpg" width="478" height="640" alt="The girls have moved in"></a>

    So this is a picture from one end of the coop. The floor is 5'x3', and there are nest boxes to the right (outside of the picture), which are 18"x5' Notice the 4x4 posts in the corners - that's the main structure, with sheets of OSB (Oriented-strand Board - comes in big sheets like plywood) making up the four walls. I went overkill and added diagonal cross bracing and vertical corner bracing on the outside. Ha! All the structural integrity is on the outside, not taking up precious room in our little coop. The roof joists are 2x2s. I caulked every seem and primed the entire inside for two reasons: to prevent drafts and to hold together the splintery-ness of the OSB. And because I used to be a painter.

    The coop is basically a variation on this them: http://mychickencoopplans.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/How-To-Build-A-Chicken-Coop.jpg. It's elevated off the ground, and the nest boxes cantilever off of one side. It doesn't really look like this aesthetically, though.

    Also, notice that I tried to use branches I trimmed off of a tree in our backyard for roost poles, but the poles cracked when I put screws into them. Good for roost poles, bad for structure.

    More pictures to follow at some point.
     
    1 person likes this.
  4. sodamancer

    sodamancer In the Brooder

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    Thankyou! I am blessed to be the daughter of a carpenter. A busy one but i learned a bit by watching. I do have basic tools, a skill saw, sander and drill the rest i can snag from my dad. He often comes across free or cheap building material too. Will lattice work for a wall as opposed to chicken wire? I can get that free too.

    Thanks for the great ideas!

    kai
     
  5. columbiacritter

    columbiacritter Songster

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    Please keep in mind PREDATORS while you are building. It doesn't do any good to build a cheap coop to feed the raccoons your chickens!
     
  6. sodamancer

    sodamancer In the Brooder

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    This is very true. My dad has chicken wire (no idea why) and i think lattice burried in th eground 6inches or so should protect against coons.
     
  7. AMA Chick

    AMA Chick Chirping

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    Chicken wire won't keep predators out. You need hardware cloth;)
     
  8. sodamancer

    sodamancer In the Brooder

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    I was thinking of using it to supplement the lattice. is this still not good enough?
     
  9. MamaRudey

    MamaRudey Chirping

    Where in the PNW are you? We are at about $150 for our 9x9 coop. Found two truck loads of hardwood at a yard sale for cheap, we have a local lumber store that does nice cuts of wood for economy prices... traded a couple feathered chooks for roofing... It is all working together. I wanted to spend $100, and after my roof supports will probably be into it $200.
    On a side note my neighbor lets her chickens free range 24/7, as does my other neighbor and the lady I get my raw milk from (her coop is three sides of plywood with a plywood roof) down the road. Although we have a lot of racoon activity in the area it doesn't seem like their that interested in chickens? Who knows. My neighbors have no doors on their coops amd their chickens are thriving.
     
  10. sodamancer

    sodamancer In the Brooder

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    Jun 2, 2012
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    I am up close to the CAN border. I live in a community in the county. So we have bylaws. Like no roosters and only 8 chickens. which means that free ranging makes me nervous. I also have 3 small kids and a rooster that came at my kids would likely be supper. How cool about the wood. My dad lmk he had a bunch of scrap i could have. My chicks range from 2wks to 4wks so i think i have time. We have been talking chickens for the last 2 months and last week decided to wait until next Jan. An unexpected interest in an egg co-op from 2 friends brought us to chicks yesterday.........so we have chicks. I jumped in knowing the minimal and am a bit scattered. I am thinking a coop that is 6lx4hx4w and 3 nesting boxes made from repurposed buckets a door for us to get in and clean easily with a hen door and ramp. a small door to collect our eggs behind the nesting boxes and 2 roosting areas with a poop board. the coop will be 3ft above ground.and i am hoping to use a drip water rain barrel style. wow look at me ramble. I think i need to go draw something up now and that will give me a better idea on cost and what to collect.

    New question.....how old before i let my chicks out into the world?
     

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