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Our Chicken Coop

June 3, 2010

I’ve been promising this post for months.  Our chicken coop is finished.  I’m really happy with this coop for several reasons.  The first being that we spent less than $50 on materials and more than 75% (probably closer to 90%) of the materials were reused or extras that we have had on hand and been saving for years, in some cases, for projects.   The second reason is that neither my husband nor I are skilled in wood construction.  I have no experience with construction and my husband is a fantastic fabricator, but working with wood is very different than metal.  Third, the coop turned out larger and more substantial than I had imagined when I was planning it in my head.  We ran into many problems along the way, but it is finished and a safe home for our chickens.

Our chicken coop

I’d like to talk about materials in more depth.  I tease my husband all the time about being a hoarder, but in the case it really paid off.  The materials we had to purchase were:

  • the bulk of the chicken wire (we had some remnants laying around, but most was newly purchased)
  • three 4″ x 4″ square posts for the doorway and load bearing wall frame
  • 1 quart of orange paint (from the Habitat for Humanity ReStore)
  • 3 bags of concrete
  • one or two boxes of nails
  • a small bag of nail-in chicken wire staples
  • a few tubes of Liquid Nails
  • four hinges (we used one we had on hand from a interior door for one purpose, but needed a total of five)
  • staples for the staple gun

The materials we had saved for years and used were:

  • copper covered composite shingles (free from a job-site where my husband was working eight years ago; we held on to them because we had only enough for a small project)
  • plywood from our shop and various remnants from projects around our home
  • constructed triangular wooden structures that we used as trusses for the house (previously used as scaffolding by my husband on a structural steel job)
  • 2″ x 4″ cedar decking, salvaged from a deck that was being torn down several years ago
  • nearly one gallon of white paint, left over from a previous home project or left in our basement by previous owners when we moved in (not sure which)
  • cinder blocks
  • corrugated galvanized roof peak covering (given to us by a friend)
  • plastic-based dog food bags (my husband has been saving these for a while and we used them as insulation on the roof and on the floor of the house)
  • miscellaneous lumber pieces for the bottom of the walls, door frame, etc. (the only new lumber purchases were the three 4″ x 4″ posts)
  • brass patio table frame (this is what we built the house frame onto; the house was originally much taller, but when we moved it into place, the legs snapped because we underestimated how much the finished house would weigh; the top of the table is still the frame under the house which is resting on stacked cinder blocks for height)

The downside of using all these recycled materials was that it was a real challenge to design the house and coop as we went while utilizing what we had on hand and not having excellent carpenter skills.  It was like putting a very detailed puzzle together.  It took us 17 times longer than we thought it would.  We started in mid-March and I just finished weaving the last of the chicken wire covering the top of the coop a couple of days ago.  The chickens have been living out there for 2 months, but at the beginning it required more work on our part letting them in and out of the house in the morning and night so they would be safe from predators.  Now their coop is fully enclosed and then can enter and exit their house as they please.

We have a large dog kennel temporarily in the coop, because it is serving as a sort of brooder for the two younger chicks that we have.  They were born right after Easter, so they are about five or six weeks younger than the older batch and they haven’t been accepted when we’ve tried to introduce them.  So, they stay in the kennel when the bigger chickens are in the coop and when the bigger chickens are released into the garden, the two younger chicks get free reign in the coop.  When they are nearly as big as the older ones, we’ll try to sneak them into the chicken house during the night and see if they will be accepted.

Here are progress pictures in the construction of the house and coop:

Laying out the copper shingles to make sure we had enough

Basic framing for the house

By the evening of the first day we had the bottom layer of the floor in. See the cedar decking?

Layering the cedar decking base, dog food bag insulation layer and top layer of plywood flooring

Finished floor with door hatch cut out

Pine tree above the coop as viewed through the door hatch

Framing is finished

Roof decking being installed

Insulating the roof with dog food bags

Shutter malfunction & copper shingles being nailed onto the roof

A month later: house has been painted, hinged door added and coop framing started

The blue plastic is covering straw, which we throw into the coop to keep smells down and to line the ground

The hinged door with the white horizontal pieces: egg gathering and house cleaning door.

A chicken's view of the house. That triangular area covered with chicken wire at the roof peak is for ventilation. We have wood triangles to cover both ends during the winter.

So, that’s the coop. It’s been mostly finished for a month or so; we just ran out of steam and didn’t get the nagging bits finished like finishing “sewing” the chicken wire seams together until recently.  The chickens can get in and out of their house as they choose through the floor hole and they have a cinder block step.  This is handy because apparently the chickens are early risers, and I’m not.

Here are a few gratuitous chicken pictures:

Unfortunately this is probably a rooster so he will be dinner. I love the colors of his feathers.

Our two smaller chickens, Silver Laced Wyandotte and Ameraucana crosses (if I remember correctly)

The bigger chickens frequently stare at these smaller interlopers

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. June 3, 2010 7:18 pm

    You and your husband did an amazing job. Some times you need to take a break and step back in the middle of a huge project. Definitely worth the work – if it was bigger I would rent it.

  2. wingclipped permalink
    June 4, 2010 12:19 am

    Great coop! I can’t help thinking that the roof covering looks like two giant wings!

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