Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Best Little Henhouse in MD: Good Lays Here

There are a couple of points I'd like to stress regarding chicken coopage:

1. Have your coop before you get your chicks.  This might seem silly (which is what I thought) since you're getting baby chickens, but those babies grow up fast and when they get big enough, you'll want them out.

2. Ready made chicken coops are expensive.  You can find a few in the $300 range online, but the quality is iffy.  Best bet in my opinion- build it yourself.  Better yet, get a boyfriend/girlfriend who is handy and knows their way around a saw and let them build it for you (which is precisely what I did).

First, I came up with a plan.  I researched coop designs, found one I liked and altered it for my personal needs (original plans found at The Tangled Nest). The coop design is a 4'x4' floor plan and 3' high.  The coop stands 2' off the ground and the area under the coop is enclosed with heavy wire mesh to provide a run that extends an extra 4 feet past the coop (so the run is 4'x8' and 2' tall).

Next you need to figure out the amount of lumber you need.  Don't quote me here, but I think we used 16 2x4's, 2 1x4's and 2 sheets of 4'x8' plywood siding.  We salvaged 2 large pieces of plywood for the roof and floor and also used left over shingles for the roof. After the wood, heavy screen and all the hardware, I spent about $200.  You could certainly spend less than that if you aren't worried about how the coop looks.  Since my coop sits within sight of the house, it was required to be as aesthetically pleasing as possible, and because I didn't have to buy plywood for the roof and floor, I was able to spend extra on the wood for the sides of the coop.

All that's left is for you (or your significant other) to take the plans and turn them into an actual coop.

Making the first cuts
If your chickens are able to operate power tools like mine are, that's a plus too.
Couple of the girls checking on the progress
All framed up

Working on cutting the sides

Finally looking like a coop
Stayed tuned for photos of the completed structure!