ideas on chicken keeping- im new at this : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread

I am going to build a chicken house/ pen to house 10 hens and 1 rooster. The only problem is, I have to built it for cheap (I can afford some chicken wire, and a friend is giving me some chain link). I have never built a chicken pen... my neighbor built one and it is huge, like 25x25, with 8 foot posts and 1/2 inch rabbit wire all around. It must have cost 3-400 bucks.. and I dont have that. Any ideas? I dont know how high, how much room to keep chickens happy, umm, nest and eggs areas are also a mystery. Remember.. cheap!

-- Kevin in NC (, April 06, 2001


When I have to do something inexpensively, I start at the library and do all the free research I can. You can also search the archives here, there's a ton of chicken information from past posts. The one thing I can say is absolutely the most important for the health and production is give them plenty of fresh air and sunshine. They'll need a good source of light, like a good size window in their house and windows or doors that you can leave open year-round for ventilation. Those things, as well as free ranging if possible are really important. And, chickens don't need a really pretty dwelling, they need shelter and protection from predators at night. My husband built our best nest-box from used pallets, and we use old milk crates for additional next-boxes. Good luck! It's been one of our more successful endeavors on this farm.

-- Rose Marie Wild (, April 06, 2001.

Dear Kevin,

In the process of building a chicken coop also and needed to do it inexpensively-here is what worked for us; went down to our local lumber yard and they sold us a pick-up load of 2x4x8 and 2x4x10's of oak for 30.00-Boards that were rejected by the lumber yard for various reasons but worked great for the coop--it came out wonderful!

We too are located in NC-good luck and e-mail with any questions


-- Brigid Luckey-Smith (, April 06, 2001.


Check this site: for some links to other poultry sites where with a bit of time you can find coop plans. Basically, you need a place where the chickens can get in out of the weather and are protected from predators. They like to roost, and nest boxes(where they lay their eggs) can be made out of anything sturdy enough to hold them. Like old laundry detergent buckets, etc., with straw inside for them to nest in. Your run doesn't have to be large, enough for them to wander if you are feeding them, or you might let them "free range" during the day and lock them up at night. However, hawks, fox, etc. might go for chicken lunches. Just think about what you have to keep out......have a way for you to check for eggs, and keep them sheltered from the weather. You don't need a palace, I've used pallets for wood and made adequate shelter for them. Try that Rocking T Ranch site..lots of information on chickens plus a forum for health questions. Enjoy your life.

-- Deborah (, April 06, 2001.

for nest boxes you can use old dresser drawers. THats what we do. but lately we just let our chickens run loose. Keep an eye on them to find out where they lay their eggs!! Good Luck!!

-- michelle (, April 08, 2001.

Kevin, try if you can, to build your coop next to an existing shed, etc. and you'll save the cost of several side posts, and the wire or wall material for one wall. This will also help if one wall is needed for a housing enclosure. We are building an additional section onto our existing 12 x 16 chicken coop. The new lumber (4 x4 posts, and 2x4 braces) totaled less than 30 dollars, and the new 50 roll of 48" wire was only 20 dollars. Your neighbors coop is LARGE. Thats not bad, but for only a dozen chickens a bit unnecessary.... as far as the actual house inside, the chickens require about 2 square feet per bird. BUT they dont care if the structure looks ramshackle or not. Nor does it HAVE to be a full eight feet tall. The chickens don't require vaulted ceilings, or even new T-111 siding. (old discarded plywood crating will suffice.) The door needs good hinges, and a lockable hasp. For nest boxes, get 3 or 4 milk crates by robbing the dairy at night. Just joking about that last part. Please do skim through books at your local library. Some good ones (with PICTURES) are "the have more plan" and the one by readers digest entitled: "back to basics". There are others, I'm sure, but I always see these two, that we own, in the library. With a four foot tall house that has a lift up roof, 3 nest boxes on one end, and a small wire coop/yard around them, you'll still have change from a hundred dollar bill to buy a bag of chicken grain. That's how WE started, years ago, and after a couple more years, we built one that was a bit taller that we could walk right into. That way you find out if you really LIKE keeping chickens, without having to mortgage the home. God Bless. xxxxxxxxxxxxx P.S. Keep your grain stored in tightly sealed trash cans, or the like, or you will soon be attracting rats to your farm.

-- The Action Dude (, April 08, 2001.

I have always heard that to avoid problems, allow 3 square feet per bird.

-- ~Rogo (, April 08, 2001.

I'm also getting ready to start with chickens. I plan to build a coop right on to the back of My barn. Lots of good info on the here. Thank you all!

-- Robin in Md (, April 12, 2001.

I just built my first chicken coop with pits and pieces from our local salvage yard. I got some old 4m hardwood beams that used to be the frame for a garage for $1 each and sheets of old corrugated iron and some of fibreglass for 2$ for a 2x1m sheet. Also got all the fencing I needed (about 40m) for under $10 and the I used for the run fence were between 50c and 1$ each. In the end I built a 2m cubed coop (with an old caravan door that cost 5$ for access) and a run 12x6m for 65$ all up. Thats AUD so USD would be half that 32.50. I also got all the stuff I needed for inside the coop dirt cheap from the slavage yard including an old cane bookcase for $2 that the like to sleep on/in. Hopwe this helps

-- Wayne Stobbe (, May 04, 2001.


I am doing an animal care course andknow a little about chicken pens. The pen needs to be predator proof and so wire mesh is needed. The wire mesh is cheap. Wood can be used and is a good insulator. The pen needs an inside housing area for nesting and for warmth. The pen should be about 3ft by 1ft ( although can be any size, but big enough for the chicken to walk about in). The pen should be ideally a traingular shape so that the rain can run off the shelter and the roof of the inside pen should be covered in a plastic coating for protection of the rain. Many perches should be provided inside the pen for the use of the chickens feet, chickens have lots of problems with their feet if on the ground. The perches also contribute to their natural behaviour. A pen like this should not be costly and can be built easily. The pen size can vary and so the pen can be big or small as long as the chickens are taken into consideration (exercise).

Hayley Lowry

-- Hayley Lowry (, May 19, 2001.

Well...we were new at keeping chickens also. We built an very inexpensive small shed kit and use one corner for the goat to get in out of the weather, and the rest for the chickens. We ordered 25 of them from a hatchery - the entire process has been very fun. We had them in what we thought to be a varmint proof coop, but we woke up one day to find 10 of them missing - little chicken bodies scattered all over the yard :(

We secured the fence, and thought we had things under control for a few days, then this morning, found the rest of them gone - thanks to a local fox. My advise - boobie trap your coop! You can't use enough chicken wire - so be sure to secure the sides of the coop and we are going to dig down farther and secure the gates differently and try this again. Good luck!

-- Dr. Barbara D Stewart, N.D. (, May 12, 2002.

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