How to Make a Quick, Easy and Cheap Poultry Cage

Last week I took the Muscovy ducklings and all the chicks to the local livestock auction. Since cages sell with the animals at this auction, I needed to make or find three cheap cages to take them in that I wouldn't mind losing.

A quick, easy and cheap poultry cage

As I considered the materials I had on hand, I came up with a solution that's quick, easy and inexpensive - mine were free since I had everything I needed.

This cage would work well for more than birds too. It can also be used to transport a rabbit or other small mammal. It's quick to construct, easy enough for a child to make (with a bit of help cutting the wire), and very inexpensive. Mine were free, using the leftovers from other projects.

I started with a cardboard box large enough to hold my cargo. I kind of underestimated the size I'd need for the ducklings, they could have used a bit more space, but they wouldn't be inside for long and I didn't have a bigger box.

Cover the top of the box with poultry wire.

One of my boxes had an open top, and another had the front and top open - it was a display box from a grocery store. The third had the top flaps still attached, but I taped them straight up to give the box more height. If your box is tall enough you could simply cut off the top flaps.

Next I cut a piece of chicken wire to fit the top of the box with enough on each side to fold over. If you're moving a smaller animal you can use another type of wire, perhaps hardware cloth or even window screen. I used tin snips to cut the chicken wire, but you could use wire cutters if that's what you have. Chicken wire isn't the only kind that will work, it's just what I had on hand.

A transit cage from a box and poultry wire.

I fit the wire on top of the box, folded the edges down, and molded the corners over so it would stay on well. Now it resembled the lid of a shoe box.

Then I used the pointed end of a meat thermometer to make a few holes at the top of each side of the box. I started out with a pencil, then used a sharp knife, but the metal end of the thermometer worked the best for me. Feel free to use what you have.

This next step is optional. I wanted the young birds to have the option of being given water to drink. I used a plastic cup for each box, but clean, empty yogurt containers would work great for this too. I put two holes in the cup using an office hole punch, about a half an inch apart, and then made matching holes in the side of the box by putting the cup inside and poking the pointed end of the thermometer through the holes and the cardboard.

How to add a water cup in your cardboard poultry cage.

Using a cable tie, I attached a cup to an inside corner of each box.

Attached the water cup with a cable tie.

I put shavings on the bottom of the box, added the birds, and set the wire lid on top of the box. With cable ties I fastened the wire lid to the box through the holes I'd punched near the top. I started out using baling twine, but it's sort of plastic-y and didn't stay tied well. I thought about using the string that holds feed sacks closed, but that might not be strong enough. Cable ties worked perfectly.

Add shavings to the bottom of the temporary cage.
Holes punched near top of box, to attach the wire top with cable ties.

If the holes were too close to the top I thought the cardboard might give way, so I'd made them about half an inch from the top. It's a good thing I did, because the guys who work at the auction carried those cages by the wire tops! Fortunately the cable ties held strong. The box of month-old ducklings was pretty heavy.

The chicks and ducklings traveled to the auction in comfort and safety, and went to their new homes in the familiar cardboard cages, without the trauma of being transferred to another container. May they have long and loved lives on their new farms.

You'll find all of my chicken-keeping posts here - and for more homesteading encouragement subscribe to The Acorn, Oak Hill Homestead's weekly-ish newsletter.

This post has been shared at some of my favorite blog hops.


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  1. Love it - aren't you clever??

    (hope you don't mind my leaving a comment here...) Just dropped by to let you know the blog post listing over 30 great homesteading/simple living sites (including yours!) sorted by state has been published. What a great resource for all our readers! I'm hoping all the blogs included on this list will share it on their site too for their readers to enjoy, as well as sharing on social media. Here's the link --> Thanks!

    ~Taylor-Made Homestead~

    1. Thank you including me! This list obviously took a lot of time to compile, so thank you for your hard work. I'll be happy to list it in my sidebar and share on social media too.

  2. Fantastic solution! It sure is handy to keep some of those scraps around. You just never know when you might need them.
    Thanks for sharing this great idea on The Maple Hill Hop!

    1. It IS handy. Someone famous (Einstein maybe?) said that inventions are 10% inspiration and 90% a good junk pile. LOL

  3. I love Kathi's comment, so Funny. Great job!

    1. Thanks, Jamie. Wish I could take credit for that saying. :-)

  4. I had Muscovey Ducks. I need to go read that post. We started with six ducklings. They grew up and at one time we had 18. Had to give them away to neighbors. I love visiting your blog. Your posts bring back warm memories for me. I'm following you!

    1. Muscovies have such personalities, don't they Sherry? I'm so glad you're here and that these stories bring back good memories for you.

  5. I've pinned this post to my sustainable living board on Pinterest, Kathi. What great poultry cages - so good you were able to make them yourself! Thank you for sharing with us at the Hearth and Soul Hop.

    1. Thank you so much for pinning the post, April!


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