While we were waging a campaign to the city to allow us our backyard chickens, we started planning what we'd do when we won!
First things first, we needed the equipment necessary for chicken keeping (water bucket and feeder) and our sweet hens would need a home.
We started with an internet search. Pinterest has a ton of awesome chicken coop ideas and tons of downloadable free coop plans. One of my favorite websites www.backyardchickens.com has a whole community of chicken keepers who have shared their homemade coop plans. We kicked around the idea of building our own coop for a while, but when you looked at the cost of lumber and the amount of time it would take - we didn't feel it was worth it to us. Maybe if we had a bunch of spare wood or materials laying around that made it a cheaper option... but we really didn't. We'd have had to buy everything which would cost as much, if not more, as just buying an already made coop..
So we looked at buying a coop. We went to our local Tractor and Feed store which had a few coops in a box (a very big box). Their cost was between $250-600 for coops that would fit 6+ birds. We knew from research that we wanted 6 birds - that's the minimum I'd recommend for a family of four if you want to have enough eggs for your cooking needs (and have enough left to share with family, friends, and neighbors periodically). We're down to four chickens right now and we're having to buy from the store every so often because we don't have enough eggs for our family (which also doesn't leave us any to share which is kind of a bummer).
Anyway, for $250 the coop seemed extremely basic/cheap and those lower cost ones typically had a good amount of negative reviews. We looked at other websites like Hayneedle.com, anthropologie, and Williams Sonoma even. Beautiful coops, but very expensive!
So we turned to our reliable friend Craigslist and spent some time searching. Eventually we found the PERFECT coop for $200. It was only a 20 minute drive into the country - someone had a bona fide farm with goats, horses, dogs, and chickens all wandering around. It was really cool visit. They had bought a bigger coop and were selling their smaller one - it was a little weathered from the Texas sun, but with a little TLC we knew it would be perfect! It is adorable. Fits up to 12 birds, which is perfect because we didn't know for sure how many birds we'd end up wanting/getting. Who knew if 4 was enough, 6, 8? So that left us the ability to grow our flock. We knew we'd never want 12 or more - we're not looking to make this a business, just a fun hobby.
So I spent the weekend sanding the coop down, staining it with some walnut colored brown stain we had left over from past projects, and sealed it with two layers of sealant (waiting a day between each coat)..
After one weekend's worth of work we had a $800 chicken coop to house our new chickens in (for the more palatable price of $200!):
Our last touch was to build the chicken run. Luckily we already had an old metal dog pen that we unscrewed and straightened to run from the coop to the shed. We bought a roll of reeds from Home Depot to put across the top to keep the chickens from flying out and to help with shade. We used some fencing materials to block of the right side of the coop so the chickens have plenty of room to hang out along our fence line and behind the shed. We usually let them out every day for a couple of hours so they can free range. Our tree is good coverage to keep them safe from hawks (I saw one swoop down one day, thinking about grabbing one of chickens for lunch - it was crazy!! Luckily they hid under the tree and were fine).