Monday, September 26, 2011

Pallet Coop

The Best Chicken Coop Ever comes with a cost. A pretty high one. Still waiting on one of these hens to lay that golden egg to recoup some of the cost associated with the penthouse suite they're living in. So when it came time to build a second coop to house the Dorkings we bought and plan to send to freezer camp late in fall, we wanted to shoot more for something like 'the cheapest coop ever.' I searched through posts on (best chicken site ever) and found some people making use of pallets for coops; a great way to reuse materials and make a sturdy coop at a low cost. I saw some people actually stripped the pallets down and reused the materials to make the coop; time is often worth more than money and this seems like way too much work for me. I hopped onto Google Sketchup and began experimenting with the idea. The goal was to use as many materials as we could that were already in the shed, or given to us to make the coop cost nearly nothing. My dad just happened to be coming into town the weekend we planned to start building and may have ended up working for his supper (supper being the Bishop Don Juan, so I'd say he was paid handsomely).

I talked about the pallet coop idea in the carpool so much (yeh, I'm really fun at parties too) that I had everyone on the lookout for good pallets in the trash that I could grab up. I also had a donation of old lumber going as well. We collected 10 nice pallets, a few pieces of free plywood, several landscaping blocks, some nailed together 2x4's that needed to be pried apart and in the shed we had some leftover hardware cloth, a gallon of outdoor paint, metal roofing screws and some other odds and ends. We had almost all the supplies we needed; my dad and husband ran to Menards to pick up some nice metal roofing sheets, a latch for the door and a few 2 x 4's for the roof. Total bill was around $100.

They started by laying down some landscaping block to have a level and perfectly squared structure slightly raised off the ground to save from rot and water damage. Four pallets were laid on top of the block and then plywood on top of those. Four pallets were then placed vertical for the walls. We joined this coop with our existing coop to save on having to make another wall and the hardware cloth in place gives them light and airflow during the summer. In the winter we will fabricate a temporary wall to close this in so the coop isn't drafty.
Building a pallet coop

We (and by 'we' I mean 'they' while I watched and took pictures) then took one of the pallets and turned it the opposite way so it would stand taller and we could later cut it at an angle to support the roof. 
Really useful nail gun in action

Floor in place and 2 out of 3 walls ready in the Pallet Coop
To be honest I really don't know the full details of how the coop was built other than it was my idea and after some sort of magic it all came together and looks great. It has 3 walls and the fourth wall is the hardware cloth from the existing coop. 9 pallets were used total leaving space for a small door. There is a long overhang in the front for some protection from the elements and because it didn't seem like a good idea to try to cut the roofing sheets. Hardware cloth was used to enclose the front of the coop under the roof where it was left open for ventilation and also around the coop my husband dug down about 6" and lined the openings of the pallets with hardware cloth to keep any critters from making a life out of living under it. The coop structure was built in a day and the details were finished up about a week later taking a few hours. The coop was actually finished and the chicks were moved into their home as I was counting between contractions waiting to go to the hospital the day my daughter was born. The coop was complete and chicks moved by 6:00 pm and my daughter was born at the hospital an hour away at 10:00 pm. Cutting it pretty close I'd say. So this coop was actually built about 2 months ago, I've just been to busy too get it up online. 

We had plans of making a small run in the front with some old fencing from a dog kennel, but haven't completed that project yet, they seem to be doing just fine free ranging for now. Here are some more pics as it was being built and the finished project:

Cheapest coop ever. All this for under $100

Almost finished. Added a 6" board along the hardware cloth so we could add in pine shavings

Love the metal roof. Looks good, lasts forever. Worth the money.

Finished the hardware cloth, painting and doors right before we
headed to the hospital for the birth of our second daughter


Elizabeth said...

Looks good! We're tossing around ideas to house layers and meat birds next spring. We lost half our laying flock a few weeks ago (they were free ranging and never came home...most likely coyotes got them) so we haven't been free ranging during the day and our current run is not suitable for long-term use. Are you planning on breeding the Dorkings?

Admin said...

Yes, we're going to keep 3 hens and 2 roosters out of this group and hopefully breed our own to raise next summer. Crossing our fingers that it works out.

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