One of the first steps in bringing chickens to your backyard homestead is building a coop. The size of the coop depends on how many hens and roosters you intend to house. Opinions differ on the amount of space needed, but a general rule of thumb is two to three square feet of coop space per bird. Once you have a general idea of how much space you’ll need and what shape you want your coop to be, you can set out finding materials to build your new hen house.
You can purchase chicken coops from many big box home improvement or farm stores in your area. These coops will run you anywhere from $150 to as much at $1,000, depending on size and amenities. However, just because you are buying an expensive coop doesn’t necessarily mean you are getting a good quality one. Cost and quality are some of the biggest factors when homesteaders decide to build their own coop. However, purchasing all new materials to build your own can be almost as expensive as buying a kit or premade coop. This is why homesteaders often choose to use reclaimed materials for their coops.
You can create a chicken coop out of almost anything — from old wooden pallets to buckets and more. A quick Internet search will give you thousands of great ideas to get you started. If you don’t have a ton of materials laying around, you can visit your local junkyard or ask your neighbors for donations. Keep an open mind while you are looking for your materials. An old shed and dog house with a run can make a great chicken coop with plenty of space for your flock to run. You can kick Fido out of his outside home and use it for your nesting boxes.
There are some beautiful coops that have been made from branches cut from a tree in the yard. This strategy creates a beautiful, naturally camouflaged coop that blends into the landscape and can keep predators away. Do you have an old car headed to the junkyard? Use that for your coop. Remove the seats, wheels and engine and add chicken wire to keep your flock contained.
Buckets are often reused because these can serve as nesting boxes, feeders and hold drinking water for the chickens. Old tires are great for wallow pits, nesting areas and even for the structure itself if you have enough of them.
You can call around to local building material providers that will often offer materials that are damaged or misshapen, for little or no cost. You can use cinderblocks or old pavers for the foundation or for the walls. Electric and cable companies will often give away or sell the spools on which wire lines are rolled. You can use these to construct your coop or as accessories, such as nesting boxes. Branches from your pruned trees can serve as roosts for your flock to hang out on during the day.
Some stores will sell reclaimed materials from home remodels at low cost. You can reuse things like old windows and doors as part of your coop’s structure. Dog doors can be used as the entrance to the coop.
Before you sell your old furniture in your next yard sale, consider using it for your hen house. An old dresser could be a great nesting area for your hens if you take the fronts off the drawers and add chicken wire to get adequate airflow for your flock. The front of the drawers can be used as a ramp to get in and out of the nesting area or to add on extra nesting boxes.
There are lots of great reasons to build your coop from reclaimed materials. Not only is it cost-effective, but if you have a bunch of junk in your yard or garage that is just taking up room, you can use those materials to clean up your space at the same time. Using reclaimed materials also keeps those materials out of the landfill, and they add a special charm that you don’t get from prefabricated coops and traditional structures.
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