DIY Straw Bale Chicken Coop

by Frank Gapinski

Here’s a great idea for a chicken coop built to fit the dimensions of straw bales. A simple four post construction with a raised floor and tin roof is all you need. Both sides of the chicken coop have temporary straw-bale walls that keeps the coop warm in winter and cool in summer. Chickens lay their eggs and roost in the center of the coop. In the springtime you replace the straw with fresh material. You don’t need to build any extra timber walls as the straw bales will keep the elements from entering the coop and keep the chickens nice and cosy.

The discarded bales can be either used as mulch bedding for the garden or used as deep litter for the chickens to scratch through and fertilize the material. Either way, its an efficient way to build your coop and keep the chickens happy.

This version was built by Dr Kirsten Small, a permaculture enthusiast who had this coop built on a slight slope in her backyard garden. Having the coop positioned up the slope allows any nutrient runoff in a storm to feed the bottom part of the garden. The tin roof also collected all the rainwater that fell into a 220 litre barrel. The water was then fed to these neat little chicken nipple drippers. The chickens when thirsty would nudge the nipples and a small amount of water would drip onto the plastic saucer arrangement. The chickens soon figure out how to get a drink and this system prevents fouling of the water, as usually happens when kept in a conventional drinking bucket.

Chicken Tractors

Kirsten also has a large hoop ‘chicken tractor’ that she places over her old garden beds to get the chickens to dig up the garden, fertilize it and eliminate any weeds, pests and seeds before replanting her garden bed. A few weeks is all it takes before the chicken tractor is nudged down the garden for all the chickens to resume digging and weeding her garden for her. Repositioning all the old straw bale hay from the walls of the coop as mulch back onto her garden completes this neat little permaculture idea.

DIY straw bale chicken coops provide great insulation and also sound proofing for roosters in the suburbs. The chickens have a cosy home to roost in at nights. Having a high platform also prevents rats and mice from moving in as well. Extra space below the coop allows the chickens to have a cool spot to escape the sun or rain during the day. You also get the advantage of not needing to spend additional money on cladding your coop with side walls. Kirsten says her daughter likes the cosy feel of the coop so much she wishes she could sleep in it!

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