By now you hopefully have an outstanding ideal location for your chicken coop! Your next important question is, “Should I use recycled or new materials for my chicken coop?” I will be blunt. BOTH!!!
It doesn’t matter if you have the best intentions to use all renewable recycled materials. You will be using new as well! There’s really no way around it. However, being smart about it and finding clever ways will help determine if you will break your pocket book and/or your back.
When I started this project I was adamant about using only recycled materials for financial concerns and because this is a “DIY” -Do It Yourself blog.
However, unless you currently have left over materials laying around and royal status with friends and neighbors, gaining access to the right kind of supplies for free takes work and not always feasible. Also, some items are not easily attainable depending on where you live. Let’s not forget proper tools and hardware. Parts and tools can always break right in the middle of a project; and most of all, time is not always on our side.
In corresponding with a friend that lives in California, he used Craigslist and other on-line trading sites to get most of the supplies he needed for his chicken coop. He did quite well obtaining materials for free, but even he occasionally had to make purchases to fill in the gaps.
On a side note: Here are the pros and cons to using on-line trading sites. Pros: You can usually find what you need with little to no cost. Cons: It can take quite a bit of time, dealing with limited availability, mismatched materials (if that is important to you) and sometimes the frustration of dealing with non-reliable people. If you have the time and flexibility most of the cons can be dismissed.
At some point, one has to break down and purchase something to help the project progress. To answer the question, “recycled or new materials?” it is important to be realistic in your research and planning. I used “recycled materials” whenever possible and used “new materials” as needed.
Here are the items I used and feel free to use this list as a good starting point.
|playhouse (future hen house)|
|miscellaneous scrap lumber in all shapes, sizes and types|
|roofing cedar shingles|
|screws and miscellaneous hardware leftover from other projects|
|some paint and tools|
|ten 8 foot long pressure treated wood decking boards|
|eight 4X4X10 wood posts for fence supports|
|assorted lumber (1×4, 2×4, etc) to reinforce and fix a small section of the hen house and for various roosting poles|
|2 Ondura® brand roofing sheets|
|hardware (ie. metal plates and brackets, combination locks, hinges)|
|buckets and PVC pipes for feeding and watering systems|
It also helps to plan ahead with what types of feeder and watering system you want to use so you can watch for great deals. If you don’t have chickens yet and just want to purchase your feeder, grab them on Amazon now and have them shipped for free if you are an Amazon Prime member. If you are not a member of Amazon Prime, this is a good opportunity to sign-up and get a 30 day free trial. Some of these items are heavy and ship for free as a bonus. You save so much money! In a happy moment I found in my research that buying some of the items on Amazon were even cheaper than a local hardware store or farm supply store. Be sure to check out the bottom of this article for some great suggestions on picking out feeders and water founts!
Kids Playhouse converted for a Hen House?
YES! If you like the idea of a playhouse for a hen house, recycle by using one you may have in your own backyard. If that is not an option, check on-line or ask around with your friends and/or neighbors to see if you can find one. Make sure it’s in good shape, can withstand years of use and be altered easily.
Wooden Playhouses VS. Plastic Playhouses
Wooden playhouses can be easily altered for ventilation, adding nesting boxes and accessibility for chickens and adults. It’s easy to screw things into the wood panels such as shutter doors, water and feeding systems, heat lamps etc.
Plastic Playhouses I have seen pictures with plastic playhouses for hen houses. Mainly, the downside with these is that they are hard to alter. Ventilation is key with all chicken houses, and if you make a mistake it’s not easy to fix. If looks are important to you, you can run into problems with it looking strange using plastic and natural materials together. I have seen some clever designs, but not everyone has a red cape flapping behind them to get the job done. If you are in a position to choose, go with wood. Otherwise, make sure you do your research for preparation!
Planning your Design
I’m not a huge blueprint person, I’m more of a few doodles, measurements and a bunch of research to suffice my needs. I prefer the hands on method, map out a few ideas from my research and jump right in to the project.
For example, I can see scrap lumber and a wooden pallet on the ground and think, “Wow there’s enough wood to make a bench!” I don’t design it by making blueprints. I just start measuring and start drilling pieces of wood together until it’s done, and the majority of the time it works. Once in a blue moon it costs me a few extra dollars from mistakes–which is not the best approach; however, I learn so much from doing it this way. I am not a perfectionist by any means and find my greatest rewards are from my mistakes that I work through. I think this is what gives me the knowledge of knowing a little bit about a lot of things.
Yet, if you are one that likes blueprints and tons of details written down, it’s good for all practical purposes to take the time to meet your needs. Each person is unique in the way they learn and process information. Maybe you can relate to my approach or you have your own technique. Either way, hopefully this will help you get started.
On Day 2, I traded my neighbor a 12 pack of beer to bring me a truck load of wooden pallets. All the pallets were uniform in size and good quality. I was so excited! Later, I discovered it ended up taking a total of 3 truck loads full of wooden pallets and a grand total of 3 packs of beer to get all the recycled materials I needed. A win – win situation!
I live in a neighborhood with an association. Even though at this time our association is not active, I wanted to be respectful of the people I live around. It was important for me have the chicken coop not look like a make-shift coop that stuck out like a sore thumb. I already knew my measurements for the coop were large, but that didn’t stop me. I took the approach of a “white picket fence” with visions of my hen house looking like a red barn to give the impression that we are “living the American dream”!
Why Use Recycled Wooden Pallets?
Unlimited accessibility to recycled wooden pallets drew me to the idea that it might make a really cool chicken coop. By using wooden pallets it helps the environment with saving trees. Since pallets originally have a different purpose, recycling allows you to bring new life into them. They are made with a very hard wood such as Oak, Pine, Fir etc. that gives them a bonus strength.
Where do I Find Wooden Pallets?
Where do you get wooden pallets? Accessibility is fairly simple. Hardware stores, grocery stores or even just driving down the road. In fact, I saw one sticking out of a neighbors trash can down the street today! I suggest, put your brave hat on and manners, of course…bat your eyes and you can get them free just about anywhere. Please be mindful that they are treated with chemicals and who knows where they have been. Termites and bugs can be a problem. Even molds and bacteria. Use common sense when using pallets and remember to use gloves and weed out suspicious looking pallets.
How Big Should I Make my Chicken Coop?
Square footage for chickens is extremely important and worth taking note. Many websites and experts have different recommendations on the square footage you will need per chicken. Four square feet per chicken is a standard recommendation. You can find more details if you Google it from a variety of resources. Go ahead and plan for more space than you expect you’ll need. It doesn’t take much to get a few adorable baby chicks and stumble across a different breed that you can’t resist and end up taking on more than your original plan.
Personally, I wanted extra hens because death in baby chicks is unfortunately common. Also, Henrietta the Hen may end up being Henry the Rooster. Too many roosters means some may need to be weeded out later. You’ll need extra space to take this into account. My motto…”Go Big or Go Home”!!!
The biggest part of Day 2 was getting 8 pressure treated boards for the new deck. We already removed the playhouse and the old deck. The decking had to go. They were rotted and falling apart.
I purchased new pressure treated boards that were 8 feet long. My primary goal is for the deck to last for many, many years. Since the hen house would be sitting on it, strength, reliability and quality are major requirements. After we got the boards unloaded I laid them on the old framework to make sure they would fit properly.
I have seen blogs where people used pallets for decking, but since they are treated with harsh chemicals, it didn’t sound like it was a smart choice in use with chickens. After tons of research, I found that wooden pallets can also splinter easily and you never know where they have been. With potential moisture and bug problems using new decking made this decision easier for me in my honest opinion and worth the extra cost.
“Remember backyard chickens are not just pets and livestock. Chickens are an investment into your future!”
By purchasing 8 foot decking boards, they were already measured perfectly. No cutting necessary.
We drilled holes in the boards to line up with the original framework. There are nuts that were originally submersed into the concrete foundation and came through the main foundation framework.
My husband graciously screwed each board down into the framework from the old decking foundation. We used decking screws that were left over from another project. Another great resource that didn’t cost anything for this project.
Day 2 – came to a completion with a beautiful new deck.
Once that was completed I was ready to start the Hen House. Be sure to subscribe to my blog to watch everything come together!
Day 2 cost – Purchased ten 8 foot decking boards approximately $100.00. Recycled materials used: Left over screws, drill and bits.
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I went ahead and did some research for you that are Amazon Prime related; here are some great resources for feeders with great reviews:
Watering Systems and Founts
Chicken Nipples! God’s gift to clean water for chickens. You’ll still need a bucket and/or PVC pipe but nipples are a great solution for clean water.
I chose this 5 gallon food grade bucket for a great reason. This comes with a Gamma Seal Lid. It allows you to twist and untwist the lid to secure it. I originally purchased a snap on food grade lid and the darn thing keeps coming off and suggest this method instead. This should provide you with security to keep the water clean. Drill a little hole on the top of the side of the bucket to allow air flow. Use this bucket with the chicken nipples and you’ll have an affordable, outstanding clean water solution. They also come in a variety of colors. Please note that I can’t find one at this time that is Amazon Prime approved. You may need to pay for shipping for this specific item but it’s well worth it.
This is for a metal Double Wall Fount for water. It only holds 2 gallons. I recognize some people can’t lift much weight. This is a good option for someone that needs something less heavy.
This is for a metal Double Wall Fount for Water. It holds 5 gallons. Since this one is 3 extra gallons you will not need to refill the water as often as the 2 gallon Fount, but it will be heavier.
Galvanized Steel Feeders
This feeder does not have a lid. If you build a roof over the feeder this shouldn’t be a big issue. This feeder holds a good amount of food and is still manageable. I personally do not have a lid over mine. It’s fine because I have a roof and I use deer netting over the coop to keep critters out.
This feeder has a lid. Perfect if it rains to protect it. This holds a few more pounds of food than the previously listed one. Please remember the bigger they are, the heavier they get.
I will be writing an article regarding a trick to keeping the chicken feeder clean and dry during rain storms. As soon as that is done I will be posting and linking the article! Be sure to subscribe for when the information is available! I promise you’ll love it! It’s something you won’t want to miss!
If you like the items above please feel free to use these links to purchase them. If you are not an Amazon Prime member, please click this link to start your free 30 day trial and take advantage of the free shipping!
Thanks for reading and if you are enjoying the day by day building adventure be sure to sign-up for updates. I will also be posting a variety of tips, suggestions and strategies as I have victories in learning about Backyard Chickens!