When we moved to our new house we had to start from scratch building a chicken coop. I ordered a cheapy prefab coop online to house the 3 hens we brought from the old house. The coop and run was small, but it did the trick until I had the time (and money) to create something bigger and better. If I had all the money in the world, I would hire someone to build a super fabulous dream coop – but that’s not my reality. As you may have guessed, I’m more of a DIY/Repurpose kind of gal. The end result? A chicken coop made from a kids playhouse. What do you think?
FYI – The coop was put on top of two pallets that were covered with stapled down linoleum.
Step by Step How To:
1. Clean & Paint
Find an old playhouse (you can usually trash pick one or find a freedie on craigslist). Take it apart and clean the heck out of it. Then let it dry completely. (The house I got had mice nests inside….ew.)
Once you have decided on the colors, lay plastic pieces on a blanket and start spray painting. Krylon and Rustoleon both sell spray paint for plastics. Read the spray bottle and make sure it’s made for outside and plastics. You really only need to spray the outside of the playhouse, the inside doesn’t matter. Make sure you read the label and allow for the correct amount of drying time in between.
2. Weather & Predator Proofing
Once the paint is dry, it’s time to start making sure all the parts are weather tight and predator proof. Starting with the door, I used heavy duty plastic (sold at walmart in the fabirc section) and chicken wire to cover the holes in the door. The plastic allows the light to still come in, but protects the hens from the rain, wind, etc. The chicken wire keeps out any predators that might try to scratch their way through the plastic. I caulked the edges for extra sealing, but I don’t think it’s necessary. I used screws designed to hold the chicken wire in place (like this).
Attach plastic and chicken wire over the windows. Again, you want light to come in.
Since there were 4 windows in the coop, I covered 2 of them with plastic and chicken wire and the other two I covered with repurposed lids of old plastic bins. My kids helped to decorate those windows with permanant markers which was then coated with a clear coat of spray paint. The white color still lets some light in.
Now for the tricky back window. In my coop, there was a gaping whole in the back of the playhouse. I formatted a hinged door to cover the hole. This allows access from the back to clean it out. At first I thought it would be a good “egg collection” door, but you will see I didn’t end up putting the nesting boxes there. I put another piece of heavy plastic to help prevent drafts under the “flap door”.
Now you can put the pieces together to finish the inside and finishing touches.
3. Fixing Up The Entryway
First, add some kind of predator proof latch to the door. I also added a hook and eye latch to prop the door open and also keep the door from flapping in the breeze. I also found that when it rained, the rain blew in the front door, so I added an overhang using an old plastic bin lid.
4. Preparing The Inside
You’ll need to add some kind of roosting bar and nesting boxes. The playhouse I used had a little shelf on the inside. I thought it would be a great place for the nesting boxes. I added supports on the sides of the shelf and put a little ladder together. Then I added some more plastic bins (can you tell I have a bunch laying around?) Here is what it looked like the first time.
I quickly found out that the girls would roost on the nesting boxes at night and (ahem) poop inside the nesting boxes. Yuck.
So I reconfigured the nesting boxes and put them on the floor under the shelf and attached some peices of wood to the shelf for roosting. Since the hens didn’t seem to use the ladder, I took out the ladder to make more room. This is what it looks like now and it has worked much better.
Now all you have to do is add wood chips, water and food and you’re good to go! Total cost was about $100 – which was mostly paint. The fencing was another $100. Considering most new coops cost over $500 NOT including a fence, I think my $200 project is pretty awesome!
Things I will probably still do to make it even better:
– Secure the playhouse to the pallets with “L” brackets.
– Secure the pieces on the inside with “L” brackets and then seal the seams with caulk.
– Add a vent out the top that can be opened and closed. (Right now the natural breeze through the seams provides air flow, but I worry the draft will be too cold this winter.)
I’d love to hear your thoughts and comments on how I could make the coop even better! Thanks for reading! 🙂