Don’t you love it when a plan comes together? When I first heard that a chicken ordinance had been passed in our town, I immediately started planning a coop. I took this pic at my desk one day in July, when I was knee-deep in graph paper and http://backyardchickens.com. Thinking we’d be buying all of our materials, I was calculating costs of lumber, insulation, hardware, paint, and fencing.
By the time I was submitting my application for a permit, I’d drawn up what the finished coop would look like. I’d also printed out a map of our neighborhood and marked the distance the coop would be from property lines of neighbors.
While I was drawing up dreams, I started gathering materials from craigslist. These windows were free from a couple who was remodeling. I ended up only using the front two, but the others will be used for cold frames in a month or two.
Then, by a stroke of luck, a local business posted that they had a huuuuge shipping crate that was free to whoever would tear it apart. I think it was 16′ x 8′ x 8′, and had contained a large piece of manufacturing equipment shipped from Germany. It contained all the 4×4’s and plywood we’d need for the coop, which was a considerable savings considering that the walls, floor, and ceiling would all be insulated, requiring double the plywood of an uninsulated coop. Richard spent two full days at the business with his chainsaw, a giant pry bar, tools and mallets and hammers, pounding that thing apart. He came home with not one, but TWO loads, like the one below.
Then an irish dance company in Milwaukee posted that they were disassembling their entire dance floor because they were moving out of the space. I got all of the 7″ thick insulation pieces, about 500 linear feet, for $40. The steel roofing panels were used and posted in a different ad, and I got the entire roof for $65.
I wanted the back and side windows to let in as much light as possible without losing as much heat as even a double-paned window. These glass blocks sell for $6 each at Home Depot. I got 40 for $25 on craigslist.
The run area attached to the coop is about 25′ x 30′, and we needed about 15 T-posts to attach the fencing to. They’re $7 each at Home Depot. I found these used for less than $1 each. They’re rusty but perfectly sound.
Unfortunately, there’s really no such thing as used fencing on craigslist or anywhere else that I’ve found, so I ended up having to buy that from a farm store. Same thing with deck screws and a couple of 14′ x 2″ lumber pieces for the frame, paint, and hardware. All in, the coop cost around $650. The kind of coop we built would go for upwards of $2500 if you were to commission a builder for it, so I’m ok with that cost.
The other part of the planning was picking which breeds I wanted. Living in Wisconsin, these were my requirements:
- Not breeds bred strictly for production, like Sex Links, White Leghorns, or Production Reds. More like heritage breeds that lay less eggs, but lay eggs for longer.
- Cold hardy
- Heat hardy
- Steady egg layers, from 3-6 eggs/week
- Dual meat and egg birds
- Bear confinement well (for nasty winter weather, when they won’t go outside)
- Pretty birds
- And last but not least, pretty eggs!
I decided on Buff Orpingtons, Black Australorps, Golden-laced Wyandottes, Easter Eggers, Salmon Faverolles, Plymouth Barred Rocks, and French Black Copper Marans.
We started building in August, and our application for a permit was approved on September 5th, 2013. Next up, pictures of the coop going up!