Monday, December 26, 2022

Chicken Coop - DIY or Premade Kit?

Have you been to the grocery store lately? Have you seen the price of eggs? Have you been able to find eggs? Just this week my local grocery store had only the "cheap", bottom shelf eggs, and they are now $8 per dozen. 

Thankfully the city in which I live just recently passed a chicken ordinance that now allows chickens. Unfortunately it takes some time to raise chickens from chicks to egg laying age. But fortunately I have been planning for this for some time, so my chicken farming days are already in the works. 

Let me back up a little bit. As my family and I have developed our gardening prowess, we knew that eventually we would want to have backyard chickens. But our city did not allow them, so I pestered the mayor and the City Council members for years. This year, we were finally in a position where it seemed that the City Council would pass a chicken ordinance, so I started researching chicken coops. 

There is a lot of information out there about chicken coops. And it seemed that the more research I did the more questions I came away with. As I looked at designs, I struggled with what our coop would look like. It would have to be "aesthetically pleasing" (my 12-year-old's words), it would have to be practical, and it would have to be affordable. 

I started by looking at some kits. Thinking that we would have 5-6 chickens, the kits for that size of flock ranged from about $250 to $1,000+. But as I looked at some of the kits on the lower end, I started to realize that many of them were quite small. In fact, Many of the kits that were under $500 were so deceptively small that they did not show chickens in the pictures, so there was no size comparison for how bit or small the coops were. Upon close inspection of one I liked the look of, the dimensions, once I found them, showed that it was only 32" tall and about 40" wide. This definitely would have been a disappointment in the part of the yard I was planning for the chickens, but also would have been quite claustrophobic for our chickens. 

So then I started looking at plans for making a chicken coop. And while I did not find plans that I exactly liked, I started getting great ideas for things that I wanted my chicken coop to have. I did noticed that it was very difficult to find anything that stated what the materials for a chicken coop would cost. 

So DIY or Premade Kit??? Well, if I had a lot more money, there are some adorable kits out there that seem to be high quality (Jamaica Cottage Shop has a couple that I really liked, although they are too tall for my five foot height limit, and the $2,000+ price tag was way more than I could spend, although the materials seem to be high quality and the coops look solid). However, looking at the kits that were more in my price range, I was underwhelmed with what I would get for that amount of money. 

So in the end DIY won out. It would allow me to build exactly what I wanted and would meet my city's parameters. While it is definitely more work than putting together a kit, I know that in the end we will have something that we will be proud of. 

So what does a DIY chicken coop cost? Mine is 3.5'W X 7.5'L x 5'H, or just over 26 square feet. With the exception of some 3/4" plywood that I already had on hand, and the paint which I also have on hand, the materials cost just over $400. So I'm essentially paying what I would have for a lower end model, but it is much more solid (my wife commented today that we could use the coop as a bomb shelter based on how sturdy it is), is exactly the dimensions that I needed, and will house our little flock of chickens perfectly. 

Be on the lookout for pictures of the completed chicken coop, complete with drawbridge (what?!?), as well as updates on how we are doing as chicken farmers. And please feel free to leave some comments below about your chicken experience. What kind of coop did/do you use? Pros and cons about it? 

Here's to a wonderful 2023 with productive gardens, happy families, lots of DIY projects, and high egg production! 

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