Building your own Chicken Coop on A Budget
Building your own chicken coop can save you a lot of money. A store bought coop can cost anywhere from $100 to thousands of dollars, depending on how elaborate it is. You can even purchase a chicken house as extravagant as a small guest’s home in your backyard, though most prefer a more modern approach. One alternative to avoiding the ostentatious chicken coop is to do it yourself (DIY). This gives you various options for customizing your chickens’ abode to suit your needs, your desires, and of course—your pocket book. Fortunately, building a chicken coop on a budget is much easier than you may think!
Make a Plan
The first step in creating your chicken coop is choosing a design for your coop. You want to consider the amount of space that you have. As well as the amount of chickens that you plan to house. You can either download free blueprints online or draw up your own detailed plans, unique to your needs. By starting out with a detailed plan, you can ensure that you have all the right materials and avoid those last minute trips to the store.
Gather your materials
Make a list of all the items you will need and then utilize all your resources to absorb some of the cost. You could also look into getting some DIY chicken coop plans, which will include a list of materials and give you some guidance. Items on your lists may include plywood, PVC pipes/fittings, fencing, wire/zip ties, wood shavings, tools, and nails. Scour your home for anything that you may be able to use. You might be surprised at what is lying around in your garage or closets. Next, visit local farms to see if they have any wood shavings available or even some spare chicken wire. Another good resource is construction sites. They may be willing to give you some scrap wood that they do not plan to use. Do not be hesitant to stop by the junk yard to look for something you may be able to “upcycle”. One man’s trash in another man’s treasure”! Finally, check with friends or family members to borrow any tools that you are missing. If you are resourceful and plan ahead, you may be able to reduce your budget significantly.
Determine the Amount of Space Needed
The amount of space you need is determined by how many you chickens you will have and how large of a chicken run that you plan to have, if you decide to add one on. For a completely inside coop, you should allot a minimum of five square feet per bird. Chickens enjoy the ability the play outdoors and come inside for nesting, If you are creating an outdoor “chicken run” with an indoor space for rest and nesting, the ideal space is four square feet per bird outside and two or three square feet per bird inside.
Assembling the Coop
For the purpose of this economical coop, we are designing a basic indoor coop (approximately five feet per chicken). An outdoor chicken run can be easily added to accommodate the needs of your chickens, by making it a ‘two-story’ coop.
Step 1: Assembling the Frame
Arrange the PVC equal tee connectors (these are the PVC union pieces that PVC pipelines insert in to) so that they form a rectangle roughly the size of the designed coop. Angle them so that their openings face towards the inside of the rectangle, rather than facing away from it.
Next, insert your PVC pieces into the open holes so that they form the structure of your future coop. If your pieces are too long, you should be able to easily saw them down to the required length. A hacksaw, though normally used for cutting metal, is the best fit for this job. It can cut through PVC pipe much easier than a wood saw. It can be a little tricky trying to get all the pipe pieces to be the same length.
We strongly recommend that you make at least a few measurements when you begin sawing the pieces down. A simple tape measure or yardstick should work just fine. A pencil, pen, or piece of tape can help you mark where you need to make your cuts, to be precise. If you own a vice grip, this can make the sawing process come out more even. It should not matter too much, since the pipe ends are just going to be stuck in to the tee joints. Attach the wood pieces to the PVC pipe. Drill small holes in the wood. Then run the zip ties or wire through the wood and around the pipe, securing it tightly on the outside of the coop.
Step 2: Anchor the Frame to the Ground
Now you are ready to anchor your coop to the ground. You can choose to use wooden stakes or a piece of pipe. Whatever you have lying around the house should work. You should be able to push the stakes into the ground on your own, but if it is winter or the ground is unusually tough, a hammer or rubber mallet will help. Avoid your instinct to dig a hole! The re-added dirt does not pack in firm enough to keep the pipe firmly planted.
Chickens prefer elevated coops, especially for nesting. Some chickens will not even produce eggs if they are not elevated. You may prefer to build an extended frame in the same manner as before, creating a ‘two-story’ chicken coop. Keep the bottom story covered with chicken wire instead of walls to allow them some fresh air. If you opt to stick with the indoor ‘one-story’ chicken coop, elevate the coop with pallets, bricks, or cinder blocks.
Step 3: Get Ready to for Nesting
Inside of the coop, create one nesting area for about every five chicken. Many people go with the traditionally boxes made from wood. Those are easily assembled by informally nailing sheets of wood together to fit in the designated space. These are simple, if you are looking for just something functional. If you want add a little uniqueness to your coop, you can find some creative big baskets around the house or at garage sales to give it a unique look. Cover the nesting areas with wood shaving and be sure to go retrieve your fresh eggs daily.
Step 4: Make it feel like home
Hens love to sit along a perch during the day and even as they take their evening’s rest. Be sure to add one or two of these cozy perches for your birds’ enjoyment and comfort. Next, add in a convenient feeding trough for the birds to fatten up on and to finish up, liberally cover the ground with wood shavings.
Your coop should be all set and ready to go. If you feel frustrated along the way, remember that building and managing a hen house is as much of a lesson in self-sufficiency as it is about actually enjoying the eggs. Get ready to start scrambling those eggs.
Here’s an infographic and image to pin so you can find this information easily when you need it!
Thanks to Gardenaholic for providing this guest post.
Your egg, chicken and backyard adventures do not need to end here. We have a whole page dedicated to helping you get the most out of eggs and chicken raising, including an entire series on Raising Backyard Chickens. Now that you have your coop plans, time to add the chickens!
See of this information and more on our All About Eggs Page HERE.