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This year we decided to do a run of cornish-rock chickens to put in the freezer. For this project we needed to build a cheap chicken coop. We usually don’t raise chickens for butcher, although we keep plenty of egg layers around. I didn’t want to spend a ton of money, getting a pen and house put together, seeing as how we may not want to do it again. So I am going to share how I got our cornish-rock meat chickens all set up without spending any money.
How to build a cheap chicken coop.
I would not say that this was a free chicken coop, but it is as close as you can get. This was a very cheap chicken coop to build. We built the chicken coop out of recycled materials. You may have to work a little to find some places to get your materials. It is entirely possible to get everything you need without paying a dime. Cornish-rock chickens are usually ready to butcher at 8 or 9 weeks of age. So you really don’t want to sink a ton of time and money into the housing for them .
Setting up the chicken run
First lets start with the pen, you need to keep your birds safe from predators which means providing them with a safe fenced area to be in. To solve this problem we used an old dog kennel made out of chain link fence that was already laying around. If you do not have any thing like this to use go on craigslist or face book. Sometimes you can find someone who had a dog pass on or run away that is willing to give the items away. Inside the pen you are going to need some kind of shelter to give your chickens a place to get out of the elements. The chicken coupe should keep them dry when it rains, provide shade when its hot, and keep them warm if its cold.
I built an A-frame tent style shelter for our birds. I used an old shipping container to build the frame, if you don’t know how to find free building materials here is a link to my article on how to get free building materials. To cover the A-frame chicken house I used some old air mattresses that did not hold air any more. The material from an air mattress is pretty thick and holds up to the wind much better than a tarp. I did consider using a tarp and would have if I did not have the old air mattresses to recycle.
Build a Cheap Chicken House
When building the frame make sure you make a place so that you can clamp a brooder light, for the cold times. We also added a tarp to the top of the kennel to provide extra shade and cover from rain, the tarp did not hold up very well but did last long enough to do the job we needed it to do. If we do another run again next year we will most likely get an actual kennel cover. If it is cold outside, make sure that you put the pen in a place that you can easily run an extension cord to while your chicks are young. They have to have a good heat source or they will die. You need to provide supplemental heat until they are feathered out. Our cheap chicken coop dose not give much insulation.
Save money raising chickens
There are a few more great ways to save money on your chickens. The first is to get a deal on the birds when you buy them. If you go to the larger nation wide feed stores that sell chickens seasonally, they usually start to lower the price toward the end of the season. If you find a deal like this then be ready to act fast, and be able to take a fair amount of birds. They will typically give you a better deal the more you buy. I bought 20 in this run, it was the last they had, and I only paid 20 cents per bird.
Another great way to save money raising chickens, would be to supplement the cost of feed by growing some of your own. You can find an article about growing your own chicken feed here. If you can find access to cheap food to supplement you may be able to save a lot of money that way also. Here is a link to an article that gives one good way to get cheap chicken supplement feed.
Backyard chickens for meat
I hope you have a great time raising your chickens. We need more people out there that produce their own food. Whether it is grown in gardens or raising animals to put in the freezer. The satisfaction of growing your own food is something that can not be easily matched. There is a lot of work involved and it is not always easy. When you open up your freezer to a wonderful harvest, it makes it all worth while. Just be sure to wrap that meat good, or maybe even vacuum seal it. You don’t want to see all that hard work go to waste. Go build a cheap chicken coop and get to raising your own dinner.