When I started pestering my husband about chickens (again), I knew I was fighting an uphill battle. He did not want to spend a bunch of money and time on the construction of a suitable coop. We’d already been down the road of improper chicken housing before, and it wasn’t a road that either of us wanted to travel again. But I really, REALLY wanted to give chicken keeping another try. And I thought that with a little bit of forethought, we could eliminate the challenges we ran into before. For starters, the birds would need enough space. And the coop would need to be easy to clean. And most importantly, the coop would need to be secure. Nothing like coming home to find your chickens walking along the 6′ high wall that surrounds your yard! But to construct this type of set up from scratch would cost quite a bit of money in materials, not to mention all the time and sweat it would take for the hubs to actually BUILD the thing.
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So then I started scouring the internet trying to find the best deal on a “coop in a box”. I had my eye on this one but the price tag was a bit hefty. (It’s actually on sale for 58% off right now if you happen to be in the market for a pre-fabricated coop!) Not only was the hubs not excited about building a chicken coop, he also wasn’t excited about the idea of another “thing” in the yard. Our yard was already overrun with toys, bikes, gardening tools, a composter, and our very well-loved Little Tikes Playhouse. So as I sat in the yard one spring evening watching the kids play with everything BUT the playhouse, I got to thinking… Why couldn’t we just turn the playhouse into a chicken coop?!?! I didn’t tell hubs about the idea right away. Instead, I began looking at the structure of the playhouse to see if my idea would even work. Guys, I swear, this thing was MADE to become a chicken coop! It had everything we needed! The house is large enough for me to walk inside to rake it out, it has plenty of space for a nesting box, waterer, food, and a roosting bar. And it even came with a little cut out section near the floor (picture a doggy door) so the chickens could access the run we built behind it! I sketched out an idea of the modifications that we would need to make, and I presented my idea to the hubs. Guess what? He went for it! It was PERFECT. The structure was already built. We wouldn’t have to add another “thing” to our already tiny yard, and the best part? It’s totally incognito. No one would EVER suspect chickens were living in the playhouse! That night, I ordered our chicks! So how did we transform the playhouse? Well, let’s take a tour, shall we?
The first thing we did was cover all the openings with garden wire. Hubs had a roll of this laying around from some other project. He used drywall screws to attach the wire to the windows. The coop actually stayed like this for a while. While the chicks were still small, it was best for them to be confined to a smaller space, so not having a run wasn’t an issue.
Next the hubs built the run. You can see the “doggy door” in the bottom left corner…this is how the chickens get in and out of the house. The run is a pretty simple A-frame structure made out of 1″x 1″ pine pieces. The frame was made in sections and the wire was screwed on to each section as it was assembled. The top of the run lifts up so I can climb in and rake out the poo. I just prop it open with an upside down rake and jump on in.
The corners are all secured with these nifty L brackets. And the whole top piece is attached to the frame with some thin chains that act as a hinge. Here is a picture of the chains.
The brown plastic covering you see on this window is actually the cover to our sand and water table. The hubs cut it to fit over the largest window to break some of the wind in the winter. He used more drywall screws to attach it to the house.
Inside the coop, we attached a roosting bar (made out of an old broom handle) to the side of the house using a simple scrap of wood to attach it.
Here is a look at one side of the roosting bar. The other side just sits on the “mantle” inside the house.
My favorite part about the coop is the nesting box. Hubs attached a recycling bin to the wall using a couple brackets. It’s the PERFECT size for a comfy chicken laying box. And it’s up high so there’s a little privacy. We did cut it down a bit…chickens are not very bright creatures…they were afraid to go inside when the lip of the box was up higher.
The feeder is hung from the ceiling by a thin chain (to keep the birds from standing on it), and the waterer just sits on the floor. The set up is working BRILLIANTLY for us. The birds are happy and laying an egg per chicken per day (even though it’s winter), and it is all super easy to care for. The best part is that we were able to make this transformation for a whopping $46. I can’t say enough about how awesome chicken are…I’m pretty sure my kiddos would agree! Think you might transform your little tikes playhouse into a chicken coop?
Here is the complete list of materials and tools we used to make our playhouse into a chicken coop. Our chickens have been living in the coop for 8 months, and it’s still holding up great!
- PVC Coated Wire
- #10×5/8 self tapping screws, to secure wire to playhouse
- Double pointed tacks/staples to secure wire to wood frame
- Angle/corner ties
- Drywall anchors to hang feeder from inside coop
- Diagonal cutting pliers – for cutting the wire
- Cordless drill
- Magnetic bit holder
- #2 bits
- Hammer (for pounding staples)
- Chop Saw for cutting 1 1/2″ pieces of wood
- Carpenter Pencils
- Measuring Tape
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