Thursday, April 21, 2011

House Those Hens for Under $10: How to Build a Chicken Coop on the Cheap!

Our chicks are just about 3 weeks old and it is amazing how fast they grow.  They don't look anything like the cute, fuzzy balls of fluff we brought home at the beginning of the month.  They are still living in our family room in a clear plastic Sterlite tub, but the time is coming for them to move on up and out of the house! 

Integrating chicks with adults is not a good idea, but eventually everyone is going to have to live together.  Until that magical moment (I'll have more to say on that topic in a future post), we need temporary "outdoor" housing for the growing brood.  Our local farm store advertised a swell looking small coop for $239 - yikes!  And a search on Craig's List returned few options as well.  With time running out (who wants month old pullets living in the house?), we turned to the DIY plan.

Hal sketched out a basic salt box coop design and we were off to the home improvement store.  We purchased two 4 x 8 sheets of OSB plywood ($6.97 each!!) and we were on our way to a new temporary coop. Within two hours we had the basic structure together. We ended up using just one sheet of the OSB plywood.  The roof and floor came from a few pieces of plywood we had left over from other projects; otherwise we would have needed the second sheet.  We also had screws, the 1x corner supports, roof hinges, decorative trim and paint. Our cost in this has been our time and about $7. 

I am confident that you could build something similar for well under $50 with supplies from a Habitat for Humanity store or similar second hand building supply store.

It's with screws, so when the chicks move into the main coop, it can be dismantled and stored.  It will be great to have on hand for future juvenile housing or for any reason that we need to separate flock members.

The coop measures 3 feet across, 3 feet tall in the front and 28 inches tall in the back and 32 inches deep.  The roof is hinged and lifts up from the back.  It will sit on four 4x4 posts about 18 inches off the ground.  This is a perfect size for four growing chicks.  Since this is only temporary housing, we don't need to worry about nesting boxes - by the time they are ready for that, they will be in with the big girls.  However, there is room for a nest box and it would be perfect for two to three hens. 

It's not done yet as we still have to get a few more coats of paint on it, add vents, attach the door and ladder.  Then comes the pen construction.  We've going with the "row house look" as it will be placed right next to the main coop.  Stay tuned for that project.

If you would like the actual dimension of this Salt Box coop, let me know in the comments and I'll send you the details!


  1. I have recently moved closer to CDA on more land and yesterday picked up my first ever chickens! I now have four Orpingtons - plus they laid two eggs on the way home!!

    Oh Yeah I am officially a farmer! LOL


  2. Hi Clair,
    Congrats on getting your new chickens and getting a couple of eggs to boot! That's the benefit of getting older girls vs chicks - less time waiting for eggs. Enjoy and keep me posted on how they are doing!


Thanks for reading and sharing your comments! Candace

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