Building Chicken Coops From Recycled Supplies
Three Vermont families offer their unique views of building chicken coops and life in the country.
Welcome to the Pollios' coop, a work in progress.
Londonderry, Vermont – From New York City to rural California, the backyard chicken movement has taken the country by storm, and chicken coops large and small are popping up all over the place. Some coops are a personal expression of their builders, others are quite simply works of art, and still others reflect ingenious use of recycled materials. No doubt about it, part of the chicken-keeping charm is found in providing a quirky coop that keeps the birds safe and is a conversation piece to boot.
“There was no rhyme or reason for it,” Michael Pollio says, recalling the family decision to get chickens for their Londonderry, Vermont, farm. “We were sitting around one day, and just decided to get some.” Tara, his wife, who overheard our conversation from the sewing room, popped in to say, “We live in the country after all, and what could be better than having fresh eggs?”
So began their adventure. Michael’s assignment was to study the subject, which he did with books, searching online and talking with longtime chicken enthusiasts. After considerable consideration, the Pollios decided to build a flock with Rhode Island Reds, the quintessential layers; Plymouth Rocks, for their easy-going temperament now favored by 12-year-old Owen; Ameraucanas, for pastel eggs; and Silver Laced Wyandottes, Tara’s pick.
Michael then designed and built a coop using surplus boards long stored in the barn. Having learned through research that simple was the way to go, he was able to construct the coop for under $400. The coop has open housing for the birds, which is easier to clean than a coop with nooks and crannies, and a means to lock and unlock the door from the inside as well as the outside of the chicken house.
“I relied on guide books for the fundamentals, but it was Yankee ingenuity that gave the coop its character and kept the costs down,” Michael says. The Pollios’ coop sports a detachable wooden floor, which provides some protection in winter, and, when removed to expose the wire mesh beneath, allows additional ventilation in the summer.
The Pollios’ coop has been a work in progress – a storage area for feed and supplies recently has been added. Michael also raised the coop’s outdoor perimeter to encourage air flow and added a mesh wire net across the top to keep high-flying predators at bay. To keep the burrowing varmints from digging their way in, Michael constructed a sturdy wooden foundation using recycled boards that also adds to the coop’s interesting appearance.
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