Episode 24 Show Notes
If you have been listening to the show for a while, you may have noticed that we do not normally have guests. To be more accurate, we have never had a guest before. That, my friends, is about to change. Next week, on Episode 25, we will have a very special guest on the show. If you follow us on Facebook, you will know before everyone else who the guest is and you will have a chance to send in questions for us to ask him on the show!
Rain & Fire (ants)
After a very nice summer, we are now being deluged with heavy rains on a daily basis. Some part of the yard have turned into lakes, and the rest is moist and spongy.
Unfortunately, this has brought all the fire ants to the surface and spread them everywhere! Normally you can avoid them by avoiding their easy-to-spot mounds, but now it seems no matter where you kneel down for a few moments you end up covered in the little buggers.
Suzy noticed a lot of them crawling on some of the coops and in egg boxes. She tried sprinkling the egg boxes with DE to drive them away. We’ll see if that works.
You Can Build Your Own Chicken Coop and Save Money
If you have priced out pre-built chicken coops before, you know they can be pretty pricey. A quick (not scientific) search found a website selling 3 x 5 coops starting at $850 and 8 x 12 coops starting at $3,200!
Fortunately, even if you have never built anything before, we are here to tell you that you can indeed build your own chicken coop, and save a bunch of money in the process. With no experience whatsoever, we built all nine of our chicken tractors. The smaller ones are 4 x 8 coops that can be moved by hand. There are also three large 8 x 12 coops that need to be moved by golf cart or lawn tractor. And every week, we have people pull into our driveway and they just sit there looking at the coops! Often, they will flag us down and ask how much we are selling the coops for. They are always disappointed when I explain that we aren’t selling them.
The cost of material to build our smaller coops is around $425, which is half the price of the ones online. The larger coops cost us about $600 to build. That is a huge savings compared to $3,200!
Decide on a Coop Type
The first thing you will need to do is decide which type of coop fits your lifestyle and your future flock.
Do you want a stationary coop and run or a chicken tractor you can move from spot to spot in your yard? Maybe you want an egg mobile, a coop you move from one fenced in area to another around your yard.
How Many Chickens Will You Have?
Decide how big your future flock will be. You will need to plan for 4sqft of space for each chicken in the coop (or sleeping area) and 1-sqft each in the run.
Make sure you think not just about how big your flock is now, but how big will your flock become in the future. It may be easier to build a larger coop now than a second coop later.
Also, think about whether you want to keep your entire flock together in one coop or break them down into several smaller coops. Since we mate and raise different breeds of chicken, we need to keep them separated into appropriate rooster and hen trios, which is why we have nine chicken tractors and not one big coop.
What Features are Important to You?
Think about what features you want in your coop before you go looking for designs. Do you want to have to go into the coop to collect the eggs or do you want to be able to collect them from outside the coop. How will you fill the waterers? Or the feeders?
If it will be a chicken tractor, how do you want to move it? Should it be light enough to move by hand? Should it have wheels to help push it? Our larger tractors all have skids so they can be towed across the lawn.
Choose a Design
After looking at designs online, you can take the features you like best and come up with your own design. If you don’t have an inner architect, you can also download free plans online or purchase plans in individual or collection form.
Gather Your Tools
You will need all the basics: hammer, tape measure, level, etc. An electric screwdriver or a drill with screwdriver bits will save you from carpel tunnel syndrome later.
You will need to do a lot of cutting. A simple hand circular saw can accomplish just about all the cutting you need to do, but some specialized saws can make the job easier and much less aggravating.
A jigsaw will allow you to cut rounded corners. A miter saw will allow you to make extremely precise and straight cuts in 2x4s a and 2x3s.
My favorite tool in the workshop is my table saw. It is old contractor-grade model I found on Craigslist. With it, I can cut lumber and plywood sheets very straight and with incredible precision.
Both miter saws and table saws can also be used to make cuts at specific angles, which can be very helpful of you are building anything other than a square box.
If you don’t own some of these tools, ask around to see if you can borrow from a friend.
Whatever you do, make sure you learn the proper way to handle any tool you use. The last thing you want is to be looking around the grass for your fingers so you can take them to the hospital to have them sown back on.
Decide on Materials
If you want to use new materials, decide on what you will use. If you are using wood, will you use pressure treated wood or non-pressure treated? Nowadays, pressure-treated wood uses a “less toxic” chemical. We still prefer to use non–pressure treated, but plenty of people use the pressure treated stuff on their coops and report no problems.
One way to save money is to look for recycled materials. We built one of our coops almost completely by collecting unwanted pallets and breaking them down into their parts for the wood. We were able to quickly find ten and even twelve foot long pallets that contained ten and twelve foot long 2x4s.
If you decide to collect pallets, read the stamped markings on each one to determine what process was used to treat it. An “HT” stamp means it was heat treated. Most other stamps refer to a chemical treatment. You don’t want those ones. Only use heat treated wood pallets.
Hardware, such as hinges, latches and such, can easily become 50% of your build cost. Look for pre-owned hardware at garage sales and estate sales.
Where Will You Build?
If you decide to build in your garage or workshop, make sure you don’t build the coop bigger than the door it will need to travel out of.
If you decide to build outside, consider making some shade over the area, especially if you build it in the summer. Also, have a tarp handy to cover it in case it rains.
Ask for Help!
Don’t be afraid to ask for help when it comes time to build. Having someone around who has built something before can save you some time and a few mistakes.
Just Build It!
In the end, remember that it is just a chicken coop. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes or that it won’t be perfect. Teh satisfaction of making something for yourself will cover up a lot of boo boos. Just get out there and build it!