There’s something so rewarding about having hens.
I like seeing them run to me whenever I’m outside. It’s silly, I know. They’re my pets. I don’t have them named because I can’t tell them apart, but I still took care of them from the egg, from being in chicksville…
Yet, when obtaining baby chicks, there’s something amiss with the whole operation of raising hens. The whole idea of providing them a home. I made the mistake of buying a cheaply constructed coop during my first chicken raising round. After experiencing the wrath of a fox demolishing all of my hens and their babies, I decided to build a fortress. I was determined to protect them as much as a I could against the forces of nature.
Now, most will tell you that a fortress isn’t necessary when it comes to chickens, but I couldn’t stand the thought of losing another one.
I’ve made two coops in the past two years. Both were made from free pallets and from wood pulled up from subflooring in my house. I saved all of the wood because I knew I would use it for something. I didn’t use a design. I didn’t write down a plan. In fact, what I did probably goes against every sense of logic embedded in the woodworking industry. I winged the coops. Ah, wing punning….with birds.
My town told me there’s a structure limit of four feet by four feet by four feet. In order to not have to get a building permit, the coops had to be within this height, length, and width. For the floor, I installed hardwire between two layers of plywood and screwed it into the bottom of the coop. I built a nesting box (open, not divided) with a door on the back for easy access. The floor and nesting box have vinyl flooring installed (bought a remnant) for easy cleaning.
I used mostly decking screws in different sizes for the coop.
I also used a large dowel going across for the hens to roost. A branch could have been used as well.
Some leftover roofing material was used for the top, and I outlined the edges with vinyl just to make it pretty after I painted with discarded exterior paint (AKA the Oops! paint).
But, let’s get to the nitty gritty here. I want to discuss working with pallets. People post pictures of their pallet makeovers, and I’m going to break the news to everyone straight up: PALLETS ARE A PAIN. Try removing nails from one JUST ONCE to get my gist. Wait, now, pull out a Saws All because having a tool like it will be what you need. Get a blade that’s going to cut through nails in order to remove boards. Also, be prepared to spend more time cutting things away than you might if you actually went out and bought wood and started from scratch. The point of all this is that I didn’t have to really buy much of anything and created a coop that would have cost me well over $1,000 to purchase. It’s sturdy. It has hardwire in the bottom of it. I even have ways to lock the doors at night so the slyest of foxes won’t break and enter. However, cutting boards off the pallets probably wasted a few hours of my life with the exception of the fact that I knew I was reusing something that was tossed out.