Friday, April 12, 2013

Which Came First...The Chicken or the Coop?

I have read a lot of blogs and heard a lot of stories of people getting chicks in early spring believing that there is plenty of time to build a coop before they are feathered out and ready to be housed outside. Although 6-8 weeks seems like plenty of time to build a coop, I don't want the extra pressure of a deadline. So the current plan is to begin building the coop first then acquire chicks.

By far, the coop is the most costly investment to adding backyard chickens to our homestead. I scoured the internet for pre-built, pre-fab, and craigslist coops. I also searched for craigslist sheds, ice shacks, and other out buildings that could be converted. I didn't find anything that was affordable or of the quality necessary to withstand our harsh winters. The only other option was building the coop. It will be a huge challenge because we have very little building tools or skills between us.

I searched the internet again for coop plans and ideas. I tried to plan sensibly and thought a shed type coop that used standard wood and plywood sizes to make things easier. Inspiration and ideas from various sources are "pinned" to my Pinterest page.

The First Coop Idea
With a 4 x 8 foot walk in shed type coop in mind, K and I ventured to the nearest big box home store to price out lumber. I quickly became disheartened when I discovered that my plan was way, way out of budget. Just when did plywood get so expensive?!

I considered giving up on the whole idea thinking there was no way it was affordable. Just then, an employee at the store asked if we needed any help. K explained our goal. The employee brought us to the back of the lumber section and introduced us to the "scrap bin." The scrap bin had a bunch of 2x4s, 4x4 sheets of plywood, and other lumber at 4-foot lengths all for around 50¢ each and told us this was replenished all the time.

As we left the store, I was still uncertain about the whole coop building idea but my mind began assembling the coop with the scrap bin pieces. Not only is the price a bargain, but we will also be able to fit the smaller lumber in our SUV eliminating the need to rent or borrow a truck. I would be able to maneuver the smaller pieces much easier too and could even build the coop myself without K's help.

"But I'm the builder." K said as I explained my thoughts out loud. "Ah ha!" I thought as this proved to me that he was looking forward to the project. K was in the middle of a large editing project and didn't have the time to devote to planning and building a chicken coop. I tried to be patient and wait until he was finished so we can work on the project together. In the mean time, I continued my research by reading books, blogs, forums, and sketching up plans. I also watched a lot of videos on youtube on how to build walls, frame in windows and doors, and shingle a roof.

8 comments:

  1. I found that I didn't like a walk-in coop. I want one I can rake out, but being in there is nasty. Plus, in our area, a raised coop doubles the space the birdies have. They enjoy hanging out under it. Can you visit some coops?

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    1. Thanks for the advice. This was the first concept. I have made changes since. It is no longer a walk in coop, but raised up with two clean out doors on each end. I changed it to save on lumber costs. I also liked the shaded and protected space under the coop. I didn't really think of the ick factor at the time. Glad to know that I made the right decision. Thanks again, I really appreciate your input.

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  2. Good luck with your project.

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    1. Thanks! It will be fun to build something.

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  3. Your local lumberyard may also have damaged pieces of metal roofing that they set to the side. If you don't mind mixed colors these will do nicely for a roof. This UK website has a lot of good ideas, very basic structures: http://www.henhouses.co.uk/

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    1. What a great idea! Luckily, my father has some asphalt shingles for the coop roof, but it would be nice to have some shelter for part of the run. We are going to purchase most of our lumber next week at a local mill yard just down the street. I'll be sure to ask about damaged metal roofing. Thanks!

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  4. Sounds like an exciting venture. I would love to have a few chicks but it is not possible where I live.

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  5. You are very wise to build the coop first. We had to do some chicken shuffling for a while when our flock was young, to get by until we finished our coop and covered yard. Thankfully we did not have to do that for too long.

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