Build Your Own Chicken Coop
By Candi Johns
We up-cycled a swing set into a chicken coop.
What is up-cycling? It’s when you take something that is no longer usable and turn it into something fabulously useful. There are materials everywhere waiting to be up-cycled into chicken coops. Many folks have used old barns, wooden pallets, or piles of scrap wood from construction sites to pull off a great coop for little to no money.
Chicken coops don’t have to cost a lot of money. All you need is a little creativity and time.
We have three chicken coops. None of them were originally constructed to be chicken coops. One is a rabbit hutch. One was part of a swing-set. One was a shed.
They all house chickens now.
You can literally spend as much money as you want on a chicken coop. It’s amazing how much they can cost. We needed a chicken coop without the giant price tag.
When the baby chicks first come home they need special care and lots of warmth. To learn how to take care of baby chicks go here.
We start ours in this:
It’s a rabbit hutch. There has never been a rabbit in this cage. Lots of chickens have loved it. We put a heat lamp, drinker, feeder and hay in it. This is called a brooder (a heated house for chicks). The chicks live in this hutch until they get their real feathers.
Once they look like they have mange (about 8 weeks old), it is about time to move them to the real coop. If it is extraordinarily cold when your chicks are 8 weeks old, they can stay in the brooder a little longer. Better to be safe than sorry. To read more on moving baby chicks to the big coop go here.
There are coops for sale everywhere and you can spend as much money as you want on one. We had a swing set that was falling apart.
Maybe it was because of over-use.
This little house section of the swing-set is what DH (Dear Husband) transformed into a chicken coop.
My oldest son helped DH with the transformation. They added walls, roof, shingles, doors and wheels. The old swing-set is now a chicken coop. That we can roll around! This coop houses broody hens hatching their eggs Here’s our first flock of chickens coming out of their coop.
Aren’t they cute?
Chickens prefer to sleep on roosting bars. A tree branch makes a perfect roosting bar. After all, if these chickens were living in the wild, they would be roosting in trees at night. Right at home.
We quickly went from six chickens to 20 chickens, so we needed more space for the girls. We installed a second roosting bar (you can see the two roosting bars above my son’s head), which doubled the number of chickens that could roost in this little coop.
First, we put a second roosting bar above the first one. It was like a two-story roosting hotel. It did not work. The chickens on the top bar spent the entire night pooping on the chickens that were sleeping on the bar directly below them. Gross. You could tell who slept downstairs by looking at their backs.
So, we turned the uneven bars into parallel bars and nobody gets pooped on. Much better.
We painted the little coop red. It was a perfect. We used it for two years. Then our flock grew to 50. Between the incubation projects going on in our house and the broody hens hatching out their eggs in the coop, our flock was expanding exponentially. This little coop was great for 15 or 20 chickens, but not for 50.
We needed more space. That’s when we got this swanky green one. It is an Amish-built shed. The Amish also build chicken coops. The coops cost quite a bit more. The coops are also smaller than the shed. Smaller and more expensive. So, we bought the shed instead of the coop. My children and I converted the less expensive “shed” into a coop. We added a chicken door and a ramp on the side.
We added roosting bars, nesting boxes and poop boards for the girls.
Poop boards are great. They keep the coop cleaner. The purpose of the poop board is to catch all the poop coming out of the chickens while they sleep.
Chickens never stop pooping. Day, night, awake, asleep … always pooping. It has to do with flight and being lightweight. Chickens do not store waste. This makes them lighter and able to fly short distances. This comes in handy if they need to flee from a predator. Apparently, if you don’t have any poop in you, you can move faster.
We used 1-by-10 pine boards. They are placed under the roosting bars. When it is time to clean up the coop, all we do is scrape the poop off the boards into a bucket and you are done. These handy boards turn a one-hour cleaning project into a 15-minute job. To see more on cleaning up the coop go here.
Here is another view from inside the coop. The chicken door is right behind my daughter. You can see nesting boxes on the right.
Of course, we train our chickens “the redneck way.” If you want to learn how to keep chickens without fences (the redneck way) go here.
The new shed-coop has worked out great.
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Read this editor’s letter about her new chickens and their lively personalities.
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