Building A Better Coop On a Budget

Building A Better Coop On a Budget

Our chickens were in desperate need of a more substantial and safer coop/run combo. When we first started keeping chickens, money was tight, we still had lots to figure out, and we gave it our best. We found a used big box store chicken coop from a local online chicken keeping group for pretty cheap, built a PVC run around it for security and moved on. Then winter in Colorado happened. The poor mass manufactured coop and PVC run did their best to keep the ladies safe and enclosed. We had a tree branch (about 200+ lbs) come down in a storm and land directly on the run and coop. They both survived the beating, and the chickens were just fine. 20160904_113018.jpgThe PVC run used to cover the factory coop is shown. The condition of the the overall enclosure and coop was not great. But it did its job.

We were fairly certain the coop and run combo we currently had would not survive another winter, and may take the birds out with it. I was able to take about a dozen pieces of almost new 2×4 lumber, as well as 11 full sheets of OSB plywood home from work for free, so it was time to get this project started. I did not use any plans, I am not a carpenter, and only have what I would consider hobbyist level tools available. After looking at several examples of the coop and run combo I knew I wanted, it was time to start drawing and mocking up the structure.

Once we had decided on the basic layout, size, and nesting box design we moved forward pretty quickly. We kept the table saw, compound miter, and drill/impact drivers busy for a couple days getting everything cut and assembled. We chose the patio as our assembly location. It became apparent that as we continued, this thing would only become heavy and more awkward to move about 100 or so feet across the yard to where the chickens live, so we decided to keep paint to a minimum and not attach the roof at until it was in it’s final location. We also did not hang the people door until after it was moved to make sure it would open and close properly.

As paint went on, and the structure took shape it was time to figure out how to get this beast across the yard. We have a hard time asking for help, that is part of what attracts us to projects like these that allows us to be that much more self sufficient. We decided that we wouldn’t want to flex the framing too much while lifting it, and dragging it would damage the the bottom framework once we got to the gravel part of the yard.  We ended laying plywood and these plastic slip sheets to build a “runway” of sorts and drag/pull/push the whole unit across the yard. It ended up being much easier than we had thought it would be.

Sliding/pulling the structure was much easier than we anticipated

To be able make this project fit our mission of sustainability was great. All but a minimal amount of the wood material was reused from a taken apart shipping crate at work. We also used as much scrap and cut pieces as possible wherever they would fit. This helped keep the cost down significantly, but it also limits our impact on the environment as well.

We learned a lot on this project, it was the largest build that either A or K had attempted to date. There are things we would have done differently now, mistakes that could have been avoided, and a couple design changes would be made if it was all to be done over. After all, this project was necessary so it had to be done right, on a (very) limited budget, while we also wanted it to be as user friendly as a finished coop for us as possible. This coop run combo is much more secure, will be easier to clean, gathering eggs every daily is much simpler, and opening and closing the door is a breeze now. We are excited to show off what we accomplished, but we also are here to help anyone thinking of something similar in anyway we can.

Last but not least, here is the finished product. K made us a new sign to welcome the ladies into their new home.


Thank you for reading, please reach out with any questions!



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