The coop your chickens call home should do two things: protect them (from the elements and predators) and give them a cozy place to roost and lay their eggs.
You can work with what you have and convert dog kennels or garden sheds or take on a simple design and build one from scratch. You just want to make sure you are working with a solid structure on a good foundation.
For our recent coop build we chose to ‘work with what we had’ (of course) and used up whatever building materials we had lying around. Old fencing and barn boards, leftover shingles, reclaimed windows and doors…..good stuff.
Our research showed that we needed to allow 2 to 4 square feet of space per chicken for the coop and 10 square feet of space per chicken for the run. Our coop is on the smaller side for the number of chickens we ended up bringing home (we were originally just going to have 12 and ended up bringing home 25…hee.) But, we figured they’ll be spending a lot of their time outdoors and they really do seem to like things cozy and close. More times than not, I catch them all huddled up together….it’s pretty sweet, actually.
The design is simple.
It’s built up on posts and has a wooden floor and has fencing around the base.
Old windows are hinged and propped open and closed with other scraps of wood. The window screen is small mesh hardware cloth stapled to the inside of the window frames.
If you’re using salvaged hardware, the main thing is to make sure that it’s in good working order and that any latches are secure.
We also installed a gate on the inside of the coop door, so that we had another ‘barrier’ when entering the front door of the coop. We’ll be swapping that out for a screen door down the road, I think.
There is driftwood hung throughout so each of them has a place to perch. Chickens typically share nesting boxes, so we built six and could always add a couple more, if needed.
For the run, it was all about giving them a ‘safe’ place to frollick and have fun in the fresh air.
We did have to purchase new small mesh fencing for the run but used salvaged wooden pallettes and posts to ‘dress it up’!
Then came the fun… a playground of sorts in the middle of the run made out of driftwood. They LOVE it. We’ll probably continue to add a few things here and there.
This was another time I was thankful my dad is a commercial fisherman…His netting and his expertise with how to work with it came in very handy for covering our run. I like how it looks and there’s peace of mind in knowing nothing from above can swoop down and cause a casualty.
We also made sure to have some seating scattered around…right now, it’s the hottest place for everyone to hang out.
We’re all pretty proud of the outcome considering we worked entirely with salvaged goodies we already had (excluding the fencing). Brings a smile when I think of what things looked like just a few weeks back…. and now here we are checking one more thing off our sustainable homestead wishlist!
It’s learn as we go…..and thus far, it’s been a very rewarding experience.
Cheers to setting up house for your chickens and keeping it playful and fun!