Building a chicken coop does not have to be a complicated or expensive tare, there is a diversity of materials that can be used as a coating that is very easy to acquire and very economical, some can even be free, as in the case of recycled pallets.
The materials used as lining for chicken coops have similar characteristics, these materials must comply with structural resistance to protect the hens, and they must be flexible to be able to work them and light.
Here is a small list of the materials most commonly used around the world as coatings for chicken coops, for their quality, affordability, and economy.
1-Plywood: the ideal material to build a chicken coop
Plywood panels are the ideal materials for building chicken coops, due to their lightness and versatility.
Among the ideal conditions that the materials chosen to build a poultry house should have, are that they should be practical and economical, dismountable, recyclable, and scalable.
That is to say, capable of being able to be modified in size without great difficulty and recovering to the maximum the materials used, and in this case, two more characteristics must be considered.
To be easily transportable and dismountable to make it easily accessible to cleaning and disinfection treatments or in case we want to change the location either by reason of fertilizer or sanitary.
The condition of being movable requires a lightness of weight along with some structural rigidity, therefore, although a chicken coop can be of any material, should be discarded bricks and all kinds of common materials in self-construction as mud, adobe, superadobe, or bales of straw, to focus on lightweight materials and withstand the stress of transport as panels and plywood.
Plywood is one of the most popular and economical alternatives for use as siding in chicken coops, The boards used to manufacture the chicken coop can be made of pine, oak, or any other compacted granulated material.
The ease of obtaining plywood as well as its cost are the main advantages that this siding material offers, it is also a relatively easy material to cut and assemble while offering adequate strength to protect the poultry house.
It is a material that can look aesthetically pleasing with the right wood stain, although in reality, aesthetics is not something that is paramount when designing and building a chicken coop.
2-Wire Mesh: the most economical option for siding a chicken coop
Is there a more economical option than plywood to siding a chicken coop? Yes, the wire mesh is the perfect option, Plywood can be very economical, but the larger the size of the coop, the more expensive it can be.
In case you are going to build a chicken coop of considerable dimensions, several chicken coops, or you are simply looking for more economical options to enclose a chicken coop, there are options of more economical coatings.
The wire mesh is also known as hardware cloth, The metal mesh is a product that is easy to find in any hardware store, its usefulness is very varied and one of the most common uses of this type of mesh is as insect screening on doors and windows and also to cover chicken coops and other types of birds.
There are different sizes of wire mesh grids, for the lining of a poultry house we usually use 1/4 “x 1/4” or 1/2 “x 1/2” grids, these are the smallest dimension grids.
The 1/4″ mesh offers more protection to the chicken coop and also has a better aesthetic appeal.
The wire mesh offers sufficient protection against insects and rodents as well as larger predators such as foxes. The smaller the mesh screen, the more protection it offers, so I recommend 1/4″ x 1/4″ mesh as a siding for a chicken coop.
Caution, do not confuse the wire mesh with the chicken wire mesh, the chicken wire mesh has hexagonal grids, offers less protection, and is aesthetically less attractive than the wire mesh.
You can also use 1/2″ hardware mesh, the problem with chicken wire is that the material it is made of is not as strong and the holes are very large.
Although chicken wire is an inexpensive mesh liner, mice can pass through the chicken wire and can be a problem in chicken coops.
The only disadvantage I see to hardware mesh as a siding is that it does not offer any insulation for very cold climates and seasons.
3-OSB boards: Cheaper than plywood
OSB panels (Oriented Strand Board) are very similar to plywood panels and cheaper, in fact, these panels can even be stronger than plywood, the thickness of OSB panels is about 2 times greater than plywood.
However, OSB panels have a major disadvantage when used as siding for poultry houses. Generally, these houses are built outdoors, and some OSB panels are not waterproof, that is, they deteriorate very quickly when in contact with moisture or water.
The way to keep them suitable for exterior use is to paint them from time to time, so they could last for several years.
Although OSB manufacturers admit that the glue used to compress the wood chips in OSB panels is waterproof.
In case you decide to use OSB panels you must take into account that there are different types of panels according to their function, so you must specify that you need OSB panels that resist humidity.
4-MDF boards: Similar to OSB panels and plywood
MDF boards (Medium-density fiberboard) are often confused with OSB boards because of their great similarity, they have basically compressed chipboard, with the difference being that MDF is more versatile than OSB to work with, although OSB boards are structurally stronger.
MDF panels are also cheaper than plywood, so using them as siding for a chicken coop can be a very economical idea compared to plywood.
MDF panels have the disadvantage that they cannot be used in a high humidity environment or in direct contact with water, therefore, although they can be used as siding for a chicken coop, plywood or OSB panels are preferred.
5-Pallets: a very inexpensive siding
I have seen many DIY projects made with recycled pallets, some people discard the pallets so this cladding could even be free.
Pallet siding can also be quite aesthetically pleasing with good woodworking skills and the application of good wood paint.
Pallets for the most part are also safe enough to be used as a liner for a chicken coop, although in the past pallets were treated chemically, nowadays pallets are treated with heat and not chemicals.
However, if you are concerned about using pallets and exposing chickens, avoid using pallets containing “MB” siblings, as they may be treated with methyl bromide.