As groceries have gotten more expensive, I have decided if I can provide some or most of my own, then at least I will always be able to eat. So first order has been to get some chickens. During the warmer months, McMurray Hatchery will ship a minimum order of chickens at 15 birds. That is much better than the 25 needed during the colder months. So I went and placed my order and the first available date to get all the birds I wanted is in mid August. Good .. plenty of time to get the chicken house and yard done.
So I went cruising the net for cheap ideas to get a coop made. Living paycheck to paycheck does not allow me the luxury of purchasing plans or materials. I needed cheap and what could fit in the back of an SUV. I found this coop and thought it was workable. I just needed some pallets. So I started to hang out on Craig’s list and when my son was home for the holidays we went to pick up some that were close by. I wanted several pallets all the same size but ended up with each one different. They were different in width as well as length. So together we roughed out what would fit where and ended up with three pallets as the base that were set on four pallets for support.
The two front pallets are solid and I ended up lining the inside with old fence boards. You can see the left side they boards run vertical and the right side they are horizontal. I was trying to keep things like mice out so was looking for the best way to seal off access to the inside of the coop.. not a perfect building. When you are into free and cheap, you have to work with what you have. The fence boards and the 2x6x10’s and 4x4x8’s came from another Craig’s list find. They had bought a property to flip and removed the privacy fence and a deck. You can see I used the fence boards on the back as well in an overlap. I may take them down and get rid of the overlap and just but the boards side by side. I still need to do an end and it will be done with butted up boards.
I also have framed out the doors there in the back. They are held together with scrap wood until I can get to Lowe’s and get some of the metal braces designed for this. I will then be on the look out for wood large enough I can put across the back to cover the empty space. A local Habitat for Humanity Restore has cabinet doors for $1/each that I added to the end where I will gather eggs. They had some much larger doors but I wanted to wait until I had measurement for what I need on that back door. So hunting list is free plywood or some cabinet doors for a few bucks to do the back.
This is the view of the back of the nesting boxes. Again .. scrap fence boards I got for free. So far the only thing I have purchased it the hardware cloth, hinges and a ton of screws. I have several hundred screws in there and it looks like I still need more. I purchased a jig saw when I first bought the house and that is what has been making all my cuts. I do need a T-Square but have been making do with the edges of boards to draw my straight lines to cut on. A good cordless drill is also a good investment.
The hardware cloth is rather expensive and it looks like we are going to need about 50′ to go around the outside of the run. From what I have read, a raccoon can reach in and yank a bird’s head off. I expect to have hens locked in the coop at night and coons are nocturnal animals so should not really be an issue. BUT.. I would rather do it right the first time so have taken the time to make the coop as predator proof as possible and the run as well.
Working with the hardware cloth has been a bit tedious. It is sharp and you need a good set of snips. Mine are some old craft wire snips I have had around the house for years. I like the smaller size gets in to the half inch squared rather nicely. Because I need predator proof and good ventilation I have decided to run the wire from under where the metal roof will rest and then down into the fence boards in the inside of the coop. You can see there is a space in there I was initially concerned about insulating. But from what I read ventilation is more important. The cool thing about this is the open spaces in the pallets below allow air to come up that wall as well as allows air in from the front. Where I live there always seems to be a nice breeze so I hope the spaces front and back under the metal roof and the larger angled areas on the ends should keep the air moving.
Always the cheapskate I used tabs from my soda cans as washers. I had seen where they could be used to hang pictures and I started to save t hem because you just never know.. lol. And I have found a pretty good use for them here. Seems stapling the cloth will allow predators to rip them out and gain access so screw and washers are the recommended.
So far we have done pretty good in keeping the costs down. I have about $10 in the hinges and will need two more pairs for the back doors. I think I also have about $50 in screws right now but bought them here and there getting ready for the project. I still need some more so will also pick them up gradually. The biggest expense for me is going to be the fencing. After some time on the net I have found 50′ of hardware cloth 36″ in width is going to run a little over $100 including shipping. And that is just going to be the bottom 3′ of the run. Above that and across the top of the run will be a 2″x4″x48″ wire mesh. We are looking at about 150′ there. Best price so far is on Amazon for $44.99/50′ with free shipping.. so we are looking at another $135 for that wire. I did snag some good 4×4 posts but will need a few more, and I will also need some Quickcrete to set the posts. Knowing what I need and what it costs will allow me to watch for sales as well as Craigs list. I may have to do without a few groceries in the next few months to get all this done, but the eggs and if necessary meat will eventually offset the temporary doing without.