I will bet the biggest hurdle for folks who want to keep backyard chickens is the cost and hassle of building a coop. Fortunately, with very basic skills and very little money, anyone can put together a long-lasting, well-constructed, high-performance chicken coop by using free pallets.
I’ve seen articles about using pallets to build structures, but they often recommend the very hard work of taking all the pieces of the pallet apart with a crowbar for the raw wood. Don’t do that! Whole pallets are made to be sturdy, square and lightweight. Don’t sacrifice that by dismantling them.
In this coop design, whole pallets provide ready-made framing for the floor, walls and roof. A few more pallets, easily cut apart with a reciprocating saw provide free siding and roosting bars. A couple of people using these pallets, inexpensive materials, a few tools and low-skill.
techniques can build a coop in two or three lei surely afternoons.
Frugal coop builders will find an inexhaust ible supply of free wood in the form of wooden pallets at local businesses: plumbing supply houses, HVAC installers, feed-supply stores and even garden centers, among others.
These photos, captions and sidebar, supplemented with tips from my book Hentopia: Create Hassle-Free Habitat for Happy Chickens; 21 Innovative Projects, show how just about anyone can build a coop from free pallets with just a drill, jigsaw and a reciprocating saw. So get started on your nearly-free poultry pallet palace! 🙂
Tools & Materials
how many pallets are needed for a backyard coop for 8 to10 hens? considering a common pallet is 5-by-40-by-44-inches,you’ll need about 14 pallets
- 2 pallets for the floor
- 5 pallets for walls(1 pallet cut in two)
- 4 pallets for the roof
- 3 pallets to quickly take apart,by cutting the nails with a reciprocating saw, for board and batten siding and roosting bars.
You’ll also need
- a screwdriver
- a recprocating
- a hammer
- a razor knife
- a straight edge
- spray paint (to mark ground location)
- six pairs of cinder blocks
- 1 box of 3-inch screws
- 2 sheets of 1/4-inch plywood
- 1box of 2-inch screws
- 1 roll of mineral roofing
- 1 box of 1-inch roofing nails
Lay out two pallets to I define the footprint of a coop for 8 to lo hens. Mark the corners with spray paint so you’ll know where to put the cinder block foundation. For more hens, add one or more pallets to make the coop longer (not wider, or you won’t be able to easi ly use the pallets to make a roof!).
Level six pairs of cinder blocks to be the founda tion. Either dig out some soil or shim some wood on top so the floor will be level.The blocks raise the coop off the ground to create a moat to protect your chickens from predators.
They also keep mud from splashing on the coop in the rain, so you don’t need expensive pressure-treated wood for the coop. Angling the corner blocks makes the coop impossible to tip over.
Lay two pallets together on the blocks for the floor framing. There’s no need to connect the floor to the blocks. The finished coop’s weight and friction will keep It in place.
Use 3-inch screws to tie the two floor pallets together where the 2-by-4s meet. Drive three screws ¡n from each side.
Trim a sheet of 74-Inch plywood to cover the pallets, and screw it down with 2-inch or smaller screws. The smooth surface will make cleaning out the coop easier.
Stand wall pallets on edge, and screw down to the floor and to each other with 3-inch screws. Put one whole pallet on each wall, and cut down the fifth pallet to fill the gaps on the long sides.
Leave one short panel of wall framing out, so you have access to Install the 2-by-4 ridge beam and 2-by-4 ridgepoles to support the roof pallets. You will also need to leave this short panel out while installing the roofing pallets.
Attach the four roofing pallets to the ridge beam and the top of the walls
with 3-inch screws.
FoundatIon, floor, walls and roof framing are in place.
Use 2-by-4 pallet scraps as roosting bars.
Trim and clamp 1/4-inch plywood to cover the roof pallets. It should extend at least 1 inch past the edges of the roofing pallets. Secure it with 2-inch screws through the pallet’s 2-by-4s.
Use the razor knife and a straight-edge to trim the roll of mineral roofing (same material roofing shin gles are made of) to cover the roof. Allow a 1-inch over lap of the roof plywood at the bottom and sides. A third piece of roofing can be gently bent over the peak of the roof. Pin the roofing ¡n place with 1-inch roofing nails at the bottom and side edges. Cover the peak with a galvanized ridge cap cut to length and a dozen 1-inch metal roofing screws
Install a “best nest box” at one end of the coop.
Use a reciprocating saw to cut the nails on three pallets. (Each pallet might take about lo minutes).The 2-by-4s can be used as roosting bars. The 1-by-4s and l-by-6s can be used as board-and-batten siding to cover the gaps in the walls and the gaps at the end of the roofing pallets. Attach with a pair of 2-Inch screws at each end, screwed into the 2-by-4s of the wall pallets.
This is a view of the nearly finished coop. I The gable openings need to be covered with hardware cloth to keep critters out. An automatic pop door needs to be installed on the side facing the pen. Two clean-out doors and a keeper access door made from 3/4-inch plywood need to be installed on the other walls of the coop.
Carpenters traditionally attach an evergreen frond to the roof as part of a “topping out ceremony.” Depending on the source, this practice either:
• honors the spirit of the living trees sacrificed to make this structure or
• attempts to hide the structure from the angry tree gods.
Either way, best to stick with tradition and attach the frond to the roof peak to cover your bases! 🙂