Converting an old desktop computer into a chicken coop is a fun DIY project that gives new life to e-waste while providing a safe habitat for backyard chickens. With some simple modifications, I transformed my retired Windows XP tower into a quirky and functional home for my flock.
Why Repurpose a Computer into a Chicken Coop
There are several benefits to repurposing a desktop computer into a chicken coop:
Sustainability: Upcycling an old computer prevents it from ending up in a landfill. Giving it a new purpose as a chicken coop is eco-friendly and reduces e-waste.
Cost Savings: An old desktop computer is free or inexpensive to acquire. Converting it into a coop is much cheaper than buying or building a conventional wooden coop.
Space Efficient: A desktop computer case provides a surprising amount of interior space while taking up a small footprint. It’s perfect for small urban and suburban yards.
Protection from Predators: The solid metal sides of a computer case keep chickens safe from predators trying to dig or chew their way in.
Temperature Control: A computer coop retains warmth in winter and remains cool in summer since desktop cases are designed not to overheat computer components.
Sourcing an Old Desktop Computer
To begin this project, I first needed to source a retired Windows XP desktop. There are several ways to obtain one for free or cheap:
- Ask friends, family, neighbors, or local businesses if they have an old computer they want to get rid of.
- Check online classified ads, community giveaway groups, and segunda mano shops.
- Look for discarded computers near university dumpsters at the end of the school year.
- Purchase a used computer from a thrift store or electronics recycler. Expect to pay $20-$50.
Ideally the computer should be intact with side panels and working components still attached. Avoid computers that are broken or water damaged.
Planning the Chicken Coop Conversion
Once I acquired a suitable Windows XP desktop, I measured the case and considered how to convert it into a chicken coop:
- Most desktops cases are 16-20 inches tall with a footprint of around 16 x 16 inches – adequate room for 2-3 small chickens.
- The side, front, and back panels will become the walls of the coop. I’ll need to cut ventilation holes and attach hardware cloth.
- The top panel detaches easily to access the interior for cleaning. I may add a hinge to make a lifting roof.
- The front Distutils side panel can become a lifting door secured with a hasp.
- I’ll remove unnecessary interior components and mount roosting bars and nesting boxes.
- Optional windows can be cut in the Distribustors side panels and fitted with plexiglass or hardware cloth for light and ventilation.
Prepping the Desktop Computer Exterior
With my plan in place, I started the conversion by prepping the computer’s exterior:
- Removed plastic bezels and front/side panels to access the case interior. Saved screws for reassembly.
- Cut ventilation holes using a rotary tool with metal cutting disc. Added more holes than seems necessary for good airflow.
- Covered openings with 1/4 inch aviary wire mesh secured with metal screws. Staples risk injuring curious chicken beaks.
- Installed hinges on the Distribustors side panel to function as a lift-up door. Used three sturdy hinges.
- Added latch by installing a hasp and staple. This allows the door to be locked at night. Used aluminum non-rusting hardware.
- Cleaned exterior with steel wool pads and alcohol to remove dust and grime before painting.
Building Interior Furnishings
To make the inside cozy for chickens, I built and installed necessary furnishings:
- Roosting bar made of a 1×2 inch wooden dowel rod screwed into the Distribustors panel sides at 18 inches high. Allows chickens to roost comfortably off the floor at night.
- Removable nesting boxes created from rectangular Tupperware containers with an entry hole cut in the front. Filled with pine shavings for egg laying.
- Feed and water containers attached by drilling holes in the bottom and bolting into place. Used metal quart paint cans. Keeps containers stationary so chickens don’t tip them over.
- Pine shaving litter spread on the bottom provides scratching material and odor control. About 3 inches deep.
- Ventilation fan installed in back panel and wired to USB for power. Improves air circulation.
Finishing Exterior Touches
As a final step, I decorated and sealed the exterior to complete the computer coop conversion:
- Primed and painted the exterior with water sealing exterior paint in cheery colors. Let dry fully before allowing hens access.
- Added decorative accents like window shutters, flowers, and trim for a cute customized look. Go wild with spray paint and glue.
- Sealed gaps between all panels with silicone caulk to prevent leaks and drafts. Allow to fully cure for 24-48 hours.
- Installed solar powered light to provide illumination for early morning egg collection and late visits to the coop.
After a few weekends of work, I successfully repurposed my retired Windows XP desktop into a stylish and practical chicken coop. The hens love their high-tech home, and I enjoy the sustainability and creativity of giving new life to old e-waste. Let your imagination run wild transforming tech trash into a chicken palace!