If you're looking to add backyard chickens to your home or homestead, then you will likely want a chicken coop! There are 11 tips for building a functional and beautiful chicken coop that doesn't cost a lot of money.
The chicken coop will almost inevitably be the most expensive part of setting up your first flock, but there’s no reason it has to break the bank.
There are many ways to cut the costs on your chicken coop without compromising on the quality of your coop (which would cost you more money in the long run anyway, as we’ll get to).
Cheapest Ways To Build a Chicken Coop: 11 Tips
A few savvy choices and smart building can keep you un the black without endangering the health or safety of your hens.
Find a plan for free online.
There are lots of high-quality chicken coop plans available for free online, and there’s no reason you shouldn’t take advantage of them to get a blueprint or at least an idea of what your coop is going to look like.
Choose the right location.
A good location will not only keep your coop standing for longer, it will also make it easier (and cheaper!) to keep you chickens healthy and safe. An elevated location will keep your coop dry, prevented both wood rot and damp, sick hens. Enough shade will help your hens stay cool in the summer without you paying to run a fan or treat heatstroke. Building your coop far from low shrubs will help protect your girls from predators.
Pick a breed based on your climate.
This doesn’t sound coop-related, but it is. If you live in Arizona, for example, choosing a tropical breed that withstands high temperatures will save you a lot of money on air exchangers and fans. Choosing a cold-hardy breed will save New Englanders on heaters and insulation.
Source second-hand materials.
You’d be surprised how many people have scrap wood laying around in their house, from bookshelves that fell apart to DIY projects that never got finished (or started). Businesses might have old pallets you can have for free
We built the chicken coop below in 2020 and were able to raise 17 chickens in this coop! We added another 30 chickens later on and had to start free ranging them.
Now we keep turkeys in this coop!
Build well and build once.
If you build a shoddy chicken coop, you will ultimately have to spend more money repairing or replacing it. Put in the time (and, if necessary, money) to build a functional coop that meets all of your needs and won’t fall apart under the first snowstorm.
The old carpenter’s adage of measuring twice and cutting once also still holds true. It will save you time and materials, even if it means your dad was right all along.
Know where you can and can’t cut corners.
This also goes back to the high cost of low quality. Swapping out brand new nesting boxes with old wooden crates is a savvy cost-cutting measure. Replacing all the hardware cloth with cheaper chicken wire is an open invitation to rodents and snakes.
Ask friends and family for advice, materials, and labor.
Anyone you know who keeps chickens will likely be over the moon to chat with you about coop specifications, breed requirements, and chicken coop problems.
Carpenters and intrepid DIY-ers you know are also a good source of information. They might even have some leftover materials you can use for free!
Repurpose items from around the house.
A chicken coop component you already had is a chicken coop component you don’t have to pay for. Old milk crates can easily become nesting boxes; a bookshelf or cabinet is a great source of free wood.
Make sure to check any items you choose to repurpose for warp, rot, loose screws, or other things that would make them less than ideal as building materials.
Plan carefully before buying your materials.
If you are going to buy materials, make sure to buy the right ones, and also not to buy more than you need. Knowing your measurements and specifications ahead of time will help make sure you aren’t paying for feet of lumber, lengths of wires, and boxes of screws that will end up sitting in your basement or backyard for years.
Some waste is probably inevitable, but careful planning and smart buying can reduce it drastically and save you a fair bit of money.
Correct is often better than expensive.
Remember that the fanciest or most expensive materials are not always the ones you want for your project, and getting exactly what you need is more important.
For example, you could spend a lot of money getting high-quality pressure-treated lumber for your coop, but untreated secondhand wood will actually be a better choice; pressure-treated lumber leaches chemicals into the soil and can be dangerous to chickens.
Remember, though, that correct is also better than cheap; if those old pallets are full of rot and falling apart, buying (non-pressure-treated) lumber is the better choice.
The cheapest coop is a sturdy, safe one.
In the long term, any money you save in building a coop can easily be eaten up by vet bills and replacement costs if that coop isn’t a safe, healthy place for your chickens to be.
If a disease prevention or predator protection measure seems too expensive, think about the cost of replacing an entire flock lost to Newcastle disease or a hungry fox, and then reconsider if you want to buy that air exchanger or extra hardware mesh.
Just because chicken coops can be expensive doesn’t mean they have to be.
Any reasonable builder can build their own for very little money. Think ahead and buy smart and your coop might even be free!
MORE CHICKEN CONTENT:
- Feed Chickens These Chicken Scraps
- Pros and Cons of Adding Chickens to Your Garden
- Homemade Chicken Salad Recipe
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