When I first looked at the possibility of raising chickens, one of my main concerns was the cost of a coop. I wanted to have something that didn’t cost a lot, but when I checked out the farm supply stores, I found coops that were anywhere between $200 and $500. Those were way out of my price range, and I got discouraged.
With some research though, I found that there are ways to make your own coop that cost very little, or nothing at all. I’ll explain the pros and cons of each option below.
Do you have an old gardening shed in your backyard? They make a great chicken coop with very little work, and a decently sized shed can easily house a dozen chickens. You can convert the entire shed, or wall off a portion of the shed, and turn it into a perfect coop. Remember to add roosts and nesting boxes, and your chickens will be living the high life.
If you don’t have a shed, check Craigslist or your local Buy and Sell pages on Facebook. There are people giving away their old sheds all the time in my area. All you need to do is drop by with a truck, load it up, and bring it home (safely).
The downside to a shed is that in the winter, your shed will need to be heated to keep your chickens happy, and the bigger the space, the more expensive it is to heat.
Another great option, if you have only 3 or 4 chickens, is to use a dog house. You can get some hinges, and make a door in the side of the dog house for easy access to the interior so you can clean it and collect eggs. Again, nesting boxes and roosts are a necessity.I see old dog houses being
I see old dog houses being given away on Craigslist and Facebook constantly. Most people just want to get rid of them or sell them for a few bucks, so scour your local buy and sells and pick up a good deal.
The downside to a doghouse is that they are small, so only house a few chickens, and require that you get down on your knees for cleaning.
If you want to get completely creative, you can always find pallets and build your own design. You can get pallets for free from a lot of places. Just drive around and you’ll find piles of them at many hardware stores, giant box stores, and even liquor stores. Always go in and ask the manager if you can take some.
The cool part about pallets is that there are many designs and tutorials available online that show how to make a chicken coop out of spare pallets. You can build as fancy or as plain as you’d like, and make it just about any size you need.
The cons of this are more varied than the other options, however. First, you need to make sure the pallets you get are safe to use. Check out this article to find out how to tell if you have safe pallets. Secondly, this is the most time-consuming option, so if you’re in a hurry, this may not be the option for you. Finally, while the pallets may be free, you’re going to need nails and screws, hinges, and other hardware, and that does add up in cost.
Take a look at your yard, and decide what will work best for the space you have. Are you good with tools, or still new (and that’s okay)? How many chickens do you plan on having? These all come into consideration when you build your coop. Regardless of what you choose to do, also remember that your chickens will need outdoor space, called a run, to live in as well, so take that into consideration. Have fun, whatever you do!