Building A Chicken Coop: 11 Cheap Tips - Backyard Poultry (2024)

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As long as you do not cut corners on the important things, there are many ways to get a cheap chicken coop without jeopardizing the final coop.

By Chris Lesley – Building your first chicken coop can be fun. It can be daunting. It can be exhilarating and stressful, but ultimately extremely satisfying. The one thing it does not have to be, though, is expensive.

While you can certainly lay out hundreds of dollars for a pre-fabricated coop and come away, you can also spend next to no money and build your own coop with results that are just as satisfying.

So long as you do not cut corners on the important things, like having appropriate ventilation to prevent respiratory diseases, there are many ways to get a cheap chicken coop without jeopardizing the final coop.

Use free chicken coop plans online.

While you can purchase the perfect chicken coop plan or pay someone to design one, there are lots of coop plans available online for free. Just make sure it meets all of your needs in terms of flock size, roosting space, and nesting boxes.

Plan carefully ahead of time.

Anyone who embarks on a lot of DIY projects knows this one by heart, but planning how you are going to use your materials, where you are going to place the coop, and what you are going to build ahead of time will not only save you a lot of stress and headaches, but also save you money by allowing you to buy exactly the materials you need and not shell out for extras that will not get used.

Build for the weather.

Knowing what weather you are expecting and what stresses it will put on your coop will help it last longer and save you money on repairs. If you build for floods in an area known for blizzards, you will have to concede with a lot of frost heaves and snow piles that your coop may not be designed to handle, and those repairs will add up.

Borrow or rent tools you do not already own.

Even if you do not have an electric drill or a staple gun, one of your friends or neighbors probably has one you can borrow. If not, many hardware stores will rent them to you for a few days for significantly less than the cost of purchasing one.

Consider purchasing or renovating a second-hand coop.

With so many fly-by-night chicken keepers embarking on a backyard flock on the back of a trend, this is a legitimate option. Cruising Craigslist or Facebook forums may turn up a wide variety of used chicken coop for cheap. This can certainly be economical, but should also be approached with caution. Make sure any coop you purchase used has been thoroughly cleaned and is in good enough condition to protect your girls.

Use scrap wood and other free materials.

Scrap wood is easier to find than a lot of people realize, even if you do not have a pile sitting in the backyard from your last attempt to build your own bookshelf. Many people will have leftover wood from their last project that they will be happy to give away or sell very cheaply. Another option is businesses, which may have leftover scrap wood or old pallets that you can use.

A single 2×4 makes a perfect roost.

This should be the cheapest part of your coop, honestly. As long as you have a foot apiece for each hen to call her own, the cheapest building material here is, for once, the best.

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Consider any extras carefully.

While accessories like chicken waterers and chicken feeders are non-negotiable, many companies are interested in selling you products for your coop that may not actually be necessary. For instance, is an automatic coop door crucial for managing your hens and your work schedule, or is somebody home all the time to perform the same function? Considering this before purchasing extras will help you cut down on unnecessary costs.

Make your own predator deterrents.

While there are plenty of fancy, purpose-built predator deterrents on the market, there is no need to pay for them. If you are tired of the CD and DVD collections you have not played in years, you can string those up from the trees to frighten off hawks and owls. Hand mirrors and reflective tape also work wonders without breaking the bank.

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Find and repurpose as many elements as you can.

Odds are you have several elements of the perfect chicken coop lying around your house or yard already, and you did not even realize it. Milk crates make great nesting boxes. An old bookcase or kitchen cabinet can be a great wall or starting structure for a chicken coop.

Build exactly what you need.

This sounds obvious, but building a coop that exactly serves your needs — even if it is more expensive in the short run — will save you money and grief in the long run by keeping your hens happy, healthy, and safe. It will also prevent you from having to shell out to renovate or build a new coop when you realize that something in your first build was not quite up to par.

Starting your first backyard chicken coop is certainly more than expensive enough already; there is no reason that a chicken coop needs to raise that price tag any further.

Luckily, careful planning, clever sourcing of materials, and a few common sense cost-cutting measures can keep it from breaking the bank. It just needs a little resourcefulness and creative thinking to see the coop that is not there yet, but will be soon.

Chris has been raising backyard chickens for over 20 years and is theChickens and Morepoultry expert. She has a flock of 11 chickens (including three Silkies) and is currently teaching people all around the world how to care for healthy chickens. Her new book, Raising Chickens: The Common Sense Beginner’s Guide to Backyard Chickens, is available in paperback and eBook form.

Building A Chicken Coop: 11 Cheap Tips - Backyard Poultry (2024)


How much space does 11 chickens need? ›

The ideal amount of outside space that your chickens will need will depend on what size of chickens that you are raising. These are the numbers that we are using as a general average. Small chickens get 8 feet of square feet per bird. Medium chickens get 10 feet of square feet per bird.

How much does it cost to build a chicken coop for 12 chickens? ›

On average, most coop building projects cost between $300 and $2000, but the cost can go up to $2000 or more, with the national average standing at $650. Ultimately, the actual cost of building your chicken coop will entirely depend on what you want your final product to look like.

Is it cheaper to buy or build a chicken coop? ›

Overall, a DIY chicken coop will be cheaper than a pre-built option. However, there are numerous tools and supplies that you will need to purchase if you do not already own them. There are multiple options for those wanting to build a chicken coop themselves.

What is the easiest chicken coop to build? ›

A-Frame Chicken Coop

Many people love A-frame chicken coops because they are budget-friendly, easy to build, and movable.

How many chickens do you need to start a coop? ›

They've been known to create kinships with one another and are intelligent enough to recognise not only each other but us humans too. For this reason, two chickens are not quite enough to sustain this social nature. Three, four or even five would be a good number of chickens to start your flock.

Is a 4x4 coop big enough for 8 chickens? ›

Our 4' x 4' Quaker Coop Specs at a Glance: Estimated space for 8 to 10 chickens. Total Height: 80" Ground to Base Height: 14"

Do chickens need to be on grass? ›

You do not have to position the coop on grass, but this is the most popular choice. It will need to be relocated every one – three days before the grass becomes totally worn out. Hens will scratch all the grass and moss up to uncover tasty insects, so it is unlikely that your lawn will remain pristine for very long.

How many chickens can be in a 4x8 coop? ›

8 large standard chickens would be ok for space in a coop with your floor space of 4 x 8 feet. The general rule, which takes into consideration that your birds may spend days or even weeks in that coop when the weather keeps them in. 1 adult large standard chicken per 4 square feet.

Does my chicken coop need a window? ›

Your chickens will spend a lot of time in the coop so they need fresh air, designing a coop with sliding windows is a great way to keep them cool in the summer and warm in the summer.

What bedding is best for chickens? ›

Straw. Straw is by far the most popular chicken bedding on the market, with a whopping 43% of people telling us this is their material of choice in our latest Hensus. It's easy to get hold of, is good for insulation and provides great scratching material for your hens.

What is the disadvantage of chicken coop? ›

Chickens Require Plenty of Time Investment

You will have to care for them every morning, provide food and water, and let them out of the coops to run and check for eggs. You'll also need to maintain the chicken coops by cleaning them weekly and checking your birds for any wounds and insects.

Are chickens financially worth it? ›

The answer is… it depends. If you're looking to become more self-sufficient and enjoy the process of raising chickens, then it may be worth the investment for you. Additionally, if you have a large family or use a lot of eggs in your cooking, then the cost savings may be more significant.

Is owning chickens cheaper than buying eggs? ›

It is not cheaper with a small batch of hens because you don't really get enough eggs to sell them or offset those costs. And it's a lot of work no matter how many birds you have,” she said.

What can you use instead of a chicken coop? ›

Use a trampoline, swingsets, dressers, cabinets, cribs, playhouses, pallets, armoire, cars and more.

How much does it cost to build a 10x10 chicken coop? ›

Coop SizeBasic CoopsDeluxe Coops
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How much does it cost to build a chicken coop DIY? ›

As mentioned, you could save on labor fees if you DIY build a chicken coop because you'd only need to pay for materials and tools. Depending on how big and elaborate of an enclosure you want, you'll pay anywhere from $100 to $2,000 to build a chicken coop yourself.

What is the cheapest wood for a chicken coop? ›

Oriented Strand Board (OSB) is the cheapest form of plywood. OSB is engineered by using adhesive and compressing layers of wood strands together to form a solid sheet. OSB that has been sealed with primer and paint is a reasonable choice for use inside the henhouse.

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