Chick math

The coop is up, and the chickens just spent their first night in it. We told them they could sleep well, knowing that no predator this side of Godzilla could possibly break in. We hope we’re right about that.

Their new home is made from rough-sawn 1×10 pine, battened all the way around. It’s eight feet long, four feet wide, and about four feet high, with four nest boxes and several roosts made out of tree branches. The floor is vinyl-covered wood, topped with pine shavings. It’s got a sloping roof, covered in Tyvek and roof shingles, with a ridge vent on the high side. It has a window.

Their run, which isn’t yet enclosed, but will be by the end of the week, is eight by sixteen. Its base is bordered with 6×6 treated lumber, with poultry wire underneath it, so that anything that tries to dig under will hit wire rather than chicken. Above the poultry wire is a layer of compost and a layer of pine chips.

A chicken coop like this is very solid, very chicken-friendly, and very expensive.

How expensive? Funny you should ask. I was just adding it up.

Treated lumber and wire for base 196
Sawmill pine (first trip)    231
Sawmill pine and pine chips (second trip) 110
Sawmill pine (third trip)   32
Miscellaneous hardware and parts 144
Roof shingles     53
Feeder and waterer        45
Chicken wire for run enclosure 40
Run door and decorative rooster  15

That comes to $866, and it’s not even everything. I haven’t counted hardware we already had, the used table saw we bought to rip 1x2s, or the new blade for the used table saw. I also haven’t included the bale of bandaging material we went through when Kevin nailed his index finger to his middle finger with a Porter Cable F350 framing gun.

By the time you include the brooder, the chicks themselves, and the Cambodian dinner we’re going to buy Dan and Linda to thank them for lending us their pick-up truck, we’re definitely into four figures. Factor in feed, and I figure we need to harvest about 400 dozen eggs to – ahem – recoup our investment.

Kevin attaching poultry wire to the 6x6 lumber that is the foundation of the coop

The coop with nest box hatch, clean-out door, and chicken door open

7 people are having a conversation about “Chick math

  1. Surely the cost of labor dwarfs the cost of materials. Remember that both you and Kevin could have been doing something remunerative in the time you’ve spent, and plan to spend, messing about with chickens.

  2. It certainly took a lot of labor, but calculating the value of that labor is a dicey proposition. I’m a writer, and I write about the chickens, so you could argue that the time I spend IS part of my job and will, with any luck, be remunerative. As for Kevin, he’s a trader. Which means that some of the time he works he loses money. In fact, he could lose the entire cost of the coop in about seven seconds. Besides, he finds manual labor therapeutic, and that kind of therapy may make him a better trader.

    Sure, one or both of us could get an actual job, but that seems pretty far-fetched, don’t you think?

  3. Hi Tamar, To paraphrase MasterCard, Cost of chicken house, $866. Pleasure gained from keeping chickens: priceless. Some my happiest days when Dan was growing up and we lived in Sudbury were spent enjoying chickens. We had a motley grouping of layers, all types, and
    many inbred-offspring of bantam parents who laid tiny eggs but were such fun to keep. Just remember to close up the chickens at night! Only time we lost some was the night of forgetting this sine qua non of chicken keeping. Enjoy! Also, handsome boat. Congratulations. You will love it now that you can readily get out on the water.

    Best, Mimi

  4. Nice coop! Was it a kit?
    Looks like your chickens will live in comfort and security.
    Perhaps I might be able to convince my lovely bride to take the plunge into backyard chickens myself.

  5. Mimi — We most certainly are getting pleasure from the chickens. You can’t watch them and not laugh. We haven’t yet had anyone tell us they didn’t enjoy having them. It’s just that little predator problem …

    Woodsman — Nope, no kit. Kevin designed and built it himself, with a little help from me. And tell your lovely bride what I told Mimi — everyone we’ve talked to who’s kept chickens has enjoyed it, and made great omelets.

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