Have you ever wanted to build a chicken run and coop for your backyard chickens, but had no idea where to start? Take a look at these four inspiring chicken coop projects from chicken keepers around the country — all of them were made with a combination of recycled materials and elbow grease! It just goes to show that building chicken runs and coops doesn’t have to be expensive when you can reuse and recycle building materials.
Chicken runs and coops can come in all sizes and styles, depending on the size of your flock and your location. One of the great things about using local materials for building chicken runs and coops is that you reduce the total carbon footprint of your building and keep materials out of landfills. If you want some great ideas on how to build a chicken coop using local and recycled materials, look at these great stories for inspiration.
Make Chicken Runs and Coops Using 100 Percent Recycled Materials
Michelle Jobgen, Illinois – We built our chicken runs and coop almost totally using recycled materials. We bought about $9 worth of screws. We recycled a barn that was falling in at a neighbor’s farm. We used whole pieces of the barn walls for the coop’s walls and floor. We used scraps of tin for the roof given to us by another neighbor. The old tin nesting box was actually on the property when we moved here. We just added plywood bottoms because they had rusted through. We screwed some shelf supports into the walls and screwed branches (instead of boards) about 2″ thick for our roosts. The can on top of the waterer keeps them from roosting on it, helping the water stay clean longer. The bungee cords on the feeder let us know when it’s getting low without having to enter the coop.
Move an Old Chicken Coop to a New Site
Marci Fouts, Colorado – Our chicken love story started out like many others. Newly moved to clean country living in northern Colorado from metropolitan Phoenix, we started out with a small flock of six chickens in an A-frame portable chicken coop in the backyard. We had many trials and tribulations; learning how to raise baby chicks, deciding when it was okay to turn the heat lamp off, how to dust for lice, etc. The next door neighbor’s dog wiped out all of our original flock except for one bird who was renamed Lucky. We started again and moved our portable chicken coop to a safer location with a better fence.
Our daughters, ages 8 and 10, were so excited when the first egg was discovered and they tried to guess which hen had laid the precious prize. Then it was on to the fair, where our oldest daughter won Grand Champion, Standard Other Breed, for her Ameraucana chickens; the trophy was bigger than the bird. That was all it took to get us hooked on chickens! We added more exotic breeds to our flock: bantam Sebrights, Frizzles and Silkies; and some new layers, giant silver Cochins and the reliable Leghorn. Before we knew it, we needed a bigger chicken coop and started investigating all kinds of chicken runs and coops for the backyard.
We live in a small town that continues to see development. While this is a positive thing for our economy, we feel a small twinge of disappointment each time we drive by a farm that has a for sale sign in front of it by a large developer. Such was the case for the building that we saved.
On the corner of Eisenhower and I-287 is an old brick farmhouse, along with several farm buildings, that look as if they have stood there for 100 years. Unfortunately, it was on the corner of a busy intersection and was a prime location for a convenience store or gas station; so the land was for sale and the buildings were to be demolished. We felt if we could save at least one of the buildings, we were doing our small part in continuing to maintain our community’s farming heritage; not to mention keeping perfectly good materials from heading to the local landfill.
We called the developer, who gave us his permission to take one of the buildings from the site. We selected a small 8′ x 8′ building that sat on a 2′ high concrete foundation and had been used to hang chickens after they had been slaughtered. It was full of trash, mice, bugs and cobwebs; but we could see its potential. We recruited some help and set about freeing our new coop from its current foundation and surrounding trees.
We thought that it would be a piece of cake to push the building onto the flatbed trailer, but that turned out not to be the case. The idea was to pull the building onto the flatbed atop two round poles using a come along; however, the bottom slats of siding on the building started to crush and shred as they snagged and got caught on the poles. Putting their creative heads together, the guys slid a round pole horizontally under the building and rolled it slowly across the long poles onto the trailer. It was a slow process and took almost four hours to move the building from its foundation to the trailer.
After strapping the building down tightly, we had an eight-mile drive to the new location. It was slow going, but our new coop made it safely and was ready to be lowered onto its new foundation using chains and the good old John Deere. The new 2 x 4 lumber foundation was built with a solid wood floor on 4 x 4 skids with large eye hooks on the ends so that the building could easily be pulled with a tractor to whatever location we desired. The coop was secured to the new foundation using 20 lag bolts.
Then the fun work began. With paint scrapers in hand, we painstakingly scraped off 30 years of dried paint and old wood splinters; removed old rotted window panes and pulled lots of rusty nails. We went back to the farmstead and found an old wooden door on another of the buildings that we modified to fit our coop. We pulled down cobwebs and scoured the inside so that it was clean and sterile, and built new nesting boxes and roosting ladders. The old wood on the outside was so thirsty, it soaked up three layers of paint as we painted the building and trim to match our barn. We purchased fence panels that are used to make a dog run and wrapped the chicken yard around the side and back of the building to ensure that regardless of sun location, our flock had plenty of shade.We moved our flock into their new home on a rainy Saturday afternoon. It was wonderful to watch them inspect their new quarters. They had plenty of space to walk around, scratch in fresh shavings and perch on their roosts, even with the stormy weather outside. Our recycled chicken coop has become a beautiful addition to our property and we feel good knowing that we were able to take something old and make it new again.
Indigenous Materials & Friends’ Donations to Build Chicken Runs and Coops
Jayne Lantz, Indiana – This is our chicken coop made from items friends and neighbors had lying around. We have 30 chickens at the present time living in the house.The chicken coop is built with 75 percent recycled materials, galvanized roofing, 2 x 4s, and stone. The inside walls have hickory flooring left over from our son’s house. The main expenses were concrete, the outside cage, and wire. The pen is 8′ x 16′, and the coop is 8′ x 8′.
We will be adding chicken wire along the sides of the cage for chicken predator protection and we have chicken wire along the top of the pen also. We would have liked to have free range chickens but too many predators including fox, coyote, dogs and muskrat prevent that. Many hours have been put into building this coop but my husband enjoyed doing it and having our friends and neighbors admire it as it was being built. We did plenty of research into building sturdy, attractive chicken runs and coops and are happy with what we finally ended up with!
Build Chicken Runs and Coops By Using What You Have Now
Rocky Mountain Rooster’s Coop Bed & Breakfast—Hens Welcome! The Griesemers, Colorado – We got three Barred Rock hens and one Rhode Island Red rooster this spring and wanted to make sure they had great “accommodations”. We looked into many different ways to build chicken runs and coops, and my husband decided to build this 12′ x 12′ chicken coop with an attached 12′ x 12′ run. We call it The Rooster’s Coop Bed & Breakfast. They sleep in, come and go as they please and each hen lays nearly one egg a day for us. These are our first chickens ever and we can’t wait to add more to our flock!
We started our chicken journey in April 2009 with four hens. They were the cutest little things. We named the littlest chick “Peep” because that was all she could do. What a precious little thing. We kept them in a 2′ x 4′ x 4′ wooden coop with two little nests and thought this would be perfect for them. After all, they were so tiny and seemed to be very content to cuddle for warmth. Things were going wonderfully and we couldn’t wait for our hens to turn six months old so we could have fresh eggs!
We were reading all about raising chickens and looked at all kinds of options for building chicken runs and coops – we were trying to be prepared. We had a heat lamp, lots of fresh food and water and we would spend loads of time with them, talking to them and bonding. Month after month, our hens were growing, having all the feed, scratch, bread, oatmeal, cornbread, and veggies, that their little hearts desired. We thought it was funny though, that little Peep was filling out differently than the other hens…and we thought her colors were just gorgeous. Three Barred Rock hens and one Rhode Island Red hen … what a perfect flock!
To make a long (and very obvious) story short, we learned that little Peep wasn’t a hen, but a rooster. One day we heard this little “hen” making the strangest sound, and we looked at each other and just laughed. Our little Peep was growing up and had just tried his very first crow! After a few short weeks, Peep was crowing and quite proud to be doing so. We decided that three hens wouldn’t be enough for this little guy, so we got two more hens, a Lakenvelder and a Brown Leghorn, both beautiful. And Peep was very happy his flock was growing…with all hens.We decided that their little 2′ x 4′ x 4′ just wouldn’t do it, so we took an extra 12′ x 12′ x 12′ loafing shed and turned it into their new home. We filled the loafing shed’s dirt floor with hay, packed it in very tightly, and then put plywood on top of that.
We had seen other insulated chicken runs and coops, and used those ideas to finish building our backyard chicken house. We took 3″ foam insulation, lined the walls and ceiling with that, and put plywood sheets on top of the insulation. On the front wall, we added a small window with a screen, a walk in door with glass and screens, and a little walk-out door for the chickens. Next, we built six chicken nest boxes, put hay in them, put up four chicken roosting bars, separated the room with wood to lay a thick layer of pine shavings on the floor for the chickens. On the other side of the room, we laid linoleum for us to walk on to go in to feed and clean out the coop. What a treat! Then we built a 12 x 12 x 24 run and attached it to the coop to ensure the chicken hawks, falcons and other birds that we have here in Colorado wouldn’t have a meal to go!
Our girls just love the nests, coop and run and are now giving us around four eggs a day. We both wish we had done this years ago! We love our chickens and adopt more hens. We now have nine hens and our rooster, Peep. Needless to say, he is a very happy rooster!
Originally published in 2009 and regularly vetted for accuracy.