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Chicken Coop/Run for Under $200!

Here's how we built our coop and run. Designed for our first nine hens, who have spent two cozy winters with no frostbite, and have plenty of space to hang out when not free-ranging in the backyard. Some folks spend hundreds, even thousands of dollar on their coops because they either:

1.) Think it is too hard to build.) or

2.) Worry that up-cycled/handmade designs will look "ramshackle."

To tell the truth, I worried those things too, at first. But, since we didn't HAVE thousands of dollars, we got busy.

​​I'm proud to say that other than some 2x4's, paint, and hardware, the entire project was made from recycled wood and leftover construction supplies generously donated by family/friends.

(Oh wait, and the weather vane. I designed the entire coop around this metal rooster weather vane, which set us back about $33 on amazon.) As for the overall budget, I didn't exactly keep track, but a conservative estimate is that the total project cost less than $200.

We think it looks pretty great. And it wasn't too difficult to build at all. Took us about 2-3 weekends. Basically, I built a box. Then there were some straight cuts with the skill saw to form the four walls. (Karl's department-I can't saw a straight line with that thing to save my life!)

The run was easier still. We made some big rectangles our of 2x4, which we covered with the wire and then pieced together in another box-type frame. I used some old pressure-treated deck railings for the "wall" area in the run, and cut down a lovely old screen door that we found in our shed.

Rather than dig down to bury wire, we skirted the entire coop about 18", then covered that with cobble stone (also free-cycled) to frustrate diggers.

We installed these solar motion lights around the perimeter, which hopefully discourages predators, but also gives us great lighting if we go in the back yard at night.

I built a large rounded "hobbit style" door with a screen ventilation hole to clean out the coop, and a matching door for the chickens entrance. (NOTE: The egg box was added to the outside wall of the coop in a later stage of the project.)

I screened the bottom and top of the "cube house" with 1/2 hardware cloth for full protection against mice and invaders. (The original ideal for the screened floor was not only to keep out predators, but so that the hens could have a ventilated floor in the summer, which would be covered by thin plywood and bedding in the colder months. Honestly, they didn't like walking on it, so we've left it covered the entire year. Next time, I won't bother wasting the wire for the floor, I will simply nail on some plywood.)

The last part was the roof. Having never built or shingled ANY roof before, I was worried it wouldn't hold up. I watched some YouTube videos on This Old House showing how they built a similar design for a barn cupola, and I copied their framing technique. I used the jigsaw to cut all the angled pieces. Staples were used to attach the roof shingles, because the plywood was too thin for traditional roofing nails. (Because we built it separately, the roof had to be light enough to lift onto the coop afterwards!)

I can't say my joist connections are anything close to perfect OR pretty to look at, but that's on the inside, and the chickens haven't complained. Plus, after two winters and MANY windstorms, I'm proud to say the thing seems BOMBPROOF. In fact, this past winter, a nasty storm snapped two nearby fence posts in half, taking down three privacy panels, but the coop was completely unfazed. Norm Abraham (and my Dad) would be proud.

We hope this goes to show that with strong will, a lot of planning, and some good ol' fashioned Yankee ingenuity, you CAN build a beautiful chicken system for a VERY reasonable cost.

Thank you for reading. Sending love from the farmstead!

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