22 February 2011

How to build a chicken coop for free

I found an ad on Craigslist several weeks ago, that offered 5 laying hens for $30.  How could I pass up that?

So we pulled out our stockpile of "this might come in handy", and looked it over.  Because chickens require a coop, of some sort.  Here it is:

Also available were several varieties of boards, two sheets of plywood (one long and skinny, one 4'x4') two rolls of linoleum, and a bucket of hinges.

We used the platform (formerly Monkey1's loft bed) for the floor, and cut the 2x4s in half for the corners.  Monkey3 helped:

We nailed them to the corners, using a square to make sure they were...well, square:
Monkey3 helped some more.
Monkey1 helped, too.  Once the 2x4s were on, he and Monkey2 wandered off to build a tipi:

It was a building kind of day.  We tied the 2x4s at the top with strapping:

 Next up was walls, and we didn't have enough wood for that, so we headed to the local building supply store.  But not to buy wood; oh no.  They pile their pallets out back, free for the taking.  We went through and picked the nicest ones, and came home with these:

(I still can't believe that was all just going to be thrown away.)  You know, getting pallets apart without wrecking the wood is really hard.  They use these twisty nails that think they are screws, and just really don't want to let go.  Kind of miserable, and my arms are still sore, but we did get enough wood for the walls.  We added more strapping around the middle, and screwed on the boards top, middle, and bottom.  The screws stuck out on the inside, which led to Monkey1's favourite part:

See the sparks?  That was even more impressive after dark.  But that came later...

That first day (Saturday) we finished the back wall and used the 4'x4' sheet of plywood for the floor.  We pieced it together, and left about a foot hanging off one end to floor the egg boxes.  We decided to stop, since it was getting nippy with the sun going down.  There wasn't a cloud in the sky, and we left the coop out in the yard to finish on Sunday afternoon.

Sunday morning we woke up to sleeting rain.  The plywood for the floor was mostly soaked.  We'd left a pallet on top of it, so that part was dry, but we knew we couldn't put linoleum down over a mostly wet floor.  We hauled it into the garage, and left it to dry while we headed off to church.

It actually did dry out, so we stretched the linoleum out and tacked it down before lunch.  A longer drying time would have been good, but we had a time crunch because (fanfare) we were picking up the chickens that afternoon!  (Stop shaking your head at me!)

We drove WAAAAAAY up north - about an hour - to the land of never-ending wind, and met the girl who was selling us the chickens at a BP.  She had her boyfriend with her, and the chickens in a cardboard box.  The monkeys wanted to see the chickens, so she pulled them out of the car, and pushed the flaps down a bit.  One hen poked it's head up through the hole, and the guy said (very quietly) "I am not chasing these chickens all over the parking lot." Just one more long-suffering male, dealing with a crazy woman.  :-D  She made the monkeys promise to take good care of her "ladies", and we headed home.

We carted them home (after a quick stop to pick up food, waterers, and feeders) and put the box in the yard, while we tried to finish up the coop.

It probably would have been good to start with a plan, but when you're making the best of what you've got, planning can be a bit difficult.  I suppose we could have sat down with our pile of junk and sketched out a detailed plan for what to do with it, but where's the fun in that?  So we had to pause, here and there, to figure out what was coming next.

About 8:30 we finally put on the egg boxes, hung the roost, and put the final wall on.  We used the long skinny piece of plywood for the last wall.  Cut in half, it fit perfectly.  We hinged both pieces at the bottom so we can open the whole wall for cleaning, or only half just to let the birds out for the day.

We covered it with a tarp, because we didn't have enough wood on hand to finish the roof...plus, it was late, and we'd been working hard all day.  The tarp was good enough for a while.

Final result:

For the egg boxes, we used a sheet of heavy plywood off one of the pallets.  The Mad Scientist built a u-shaped frame, inserted it into the coop, and screwed it to the 2x4s on that side.  He screwed the floor to the bottom, and we hinged the remaining plywood to the top.  It wasn't quite wide enough, so we filled in the back with a piece of strapping.
Total cost so far:  $3 for the tarp, plus three hasps and three latches for the two doors and the egg boxes.  (I don't remember how much those cost.)

Next up:  "It's not about what you have in your closet!  It's about who your friends are, and what they have in their closets!"  (Name that movie.)

1 comment:

  1. Love this! We may be in possession of some acreage soon, and this is fantastic.


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