Make a chicken coop using scraps easily found around the farm or at the tip. Fencing mesh, flexible tree prunings, mud, straw and tin. This chicken coop uses very basic weaving skills and earth building techniques. Very easy for those who prefer to avoid hammers, nails and corners!
Step 1: Gather the Materials
The frame is built from flexible tree prunings and fencing mesh. I used wisteria prunings, but any kinds of branches with a little flexibility will do. The fencing mesh came from the scrap metal pile. It came in two lengths of 60 cm high x 1.5m wide. Posts were already attached to the fencing mesh, but posts or star pickets could be attached following the building of the frame.
Step 2: Build the Frame
The frame for the chicken coop is constructed by weaving flexible branches through the fencing mesh. Begin at the base with the first branch, and weave it in and out of the gaps in the fencing mesh. Begin weaving the second branch just above the first one, but weave on the opposite side of the vertical wires than the first branch. Work up the fencing mesh, branch by branch, always alternating the weave on either side of the wire. If the branches are too thick to weave through every gap in the fencing mesh, going through every second gap is fine. Use the longer branches first. If a branch is too short tuck the ends into the branch below, and continue weaving with another branch. When the whole panel is woven, fill any obvious gaps with remaining branches.
Step 3: Secure the Frame
For this project, I arranged the two panels in semi circular shape. The two panels were wired together at the back, with a large opening at the front of the coop. It's important to position the opening in a sheltered position, so that wind will not blow into the coop. This is the time to attach star pickets or posts to the fencing mesh if they are not already in place. Star pickets can be hammered into the ground and wired onto the fencing mesh if needed. Set the frame in place before you bang in the posts!
Step 4: The Perch
Chickens need to perch, so choose one or two branches 2-3 cm in diameter for their perch. Run the stick across the middle of the coop, wedging it between the woven branches. It should be long enough that it can protrude from either side of the coop and be able to take the weight of a few chickens.
Step 5: Making the Walls
The coop frame is finished with a 50/50 mixture of straw and mud. Any old mud will do. Mix mud and straw well and form into workeable clumps. Use your hands to apply the mud/straw mix to the woven branches of the frame. Slowly build up the layers of mud and straw onto the branches and push into the gaps, until the no gaps remain between the branches. Use smaller sticks and bark to add structure where the gaps between the branches are too big. As the mud dries it can shrink and fall off, so keep an eye on it and patch as necessary.
Step 6: Attach the Roof
We roofed the chicken coop with the lid of an old round water tank (sorry no photo), but tin sheets would do. Make the roof a little wider than the walls to protect them from rain. Run garden hose around the edge of the tin, so the sharp edges don't cut you when collecting the eggs. Add straw to the base and your coop is ready for the chickens to move in.
Beware! While this chicken coop provides good protection from the elements, it provides no protection from predators and is best used inside an existing fence or chicken run.