As newbie chicken owners, we scanned BackYard Chickens for all sorts of coop designs for our 7 young chickens (five regular-large breeds and two silkies). At first we were going to go with a moveable chicken tractor but as we started building, we realized the project had taken on wings of it's own and was now too big to be easily moved. Overall we are extremely satisfied with our coop and find it very cozy! Here are some pics. We had no "plans" per se but just adjusted as we went along. To see the process from start to finish (and more pictures) I blogged the journey at my site here:
We used 2 x 4s for their perches, placed with the widest area for them to perch on, for our hearty winters to avoid frostbitten toes. Bottom is spaced 2'H and top one is 3'H with 12" between the two and also from back wall to top perch. The silkies have a hard time getting to the first perch so I put a temporary step stool for them under the perch.
I have pine shavings in the coop and so far just dirt floor in the run until they peck it dry and dusty. Then I will put down a sand floor for drainage and dust baths.
The roof is corrugated galvanized metal. We are thinking of adding a sun cloth to one side if it gets too breezy or sunny but so far so good. We have two 2' perches in the front corners of the run. The girls are just now discovering them and look quite proud up there scanning around.
I'm having a hard time getting them to use the pop door plank. When I let them out in the morning they just fly down so I put the plank going straight out to see if it will make a difference. I haven't seen them go up it yet (though there was a bit of poop halfway up today). Tonight will be their first night where I don't have to go out there and put them in their coop myself (the last four nights I had to work so brought them in myself way early before the sun went down).
We used thick heavy metal fencing around the entire coop and run. As recommended by so many of you, I did an "apron" by digging approximately 4-6" down along the outside of the coop then outwards for 2'. I bent the fencing and buried it. Then we stapled heavy duty hardware cloth along the lower half of the run and all along the bottom of the coop. The thick heavy (non hardware cloth) fencing we also stapled along the floor (on the ground) under the coop. This part is virtually predator proof in terms of digging under. The vents and window in the coop are all stapled hardware cloth.
We did four nesting boxes (on the outside as I preferred and to give them more room) with removable dividers for ease of cleaning. I also lined both the nesting boxes and the coop floor with sheet linoleum. We put cardboard in front of the nesting boxes for now until they get older as we found them all packed into two of the boxes to sleep. Tsk tsk.
The run is bolted to the coop since we rent right now and would like to not have to leave this beauty here when we move! It should fit in the back of my husband's pickup. Fingers crossed...
I don't put food in the coop but occasionally, if I have to leave for work early (night shift), I put in water since it has been so hot here 90-100+.
Things I still need to do:
Poop boards under the perches in the coop. I saw this on the forums and loved the idea. We put in a sliding rail along the inner walls for this but just haven't built the boards yet. This will get done this weekend and lined also with linoleum.
Vent doors for the larger lower vents along top. The smaller roof-line vents will stay open even for winter but the larger, lower ones will need covers for winter time. These will be hinged with toggle closures.
Gutters along the roofline of coop and run that will lead into rain barrels. We had a torrential downpour today and gutters would have been great. I am also thinking of planting adult veggies (tomatoes etc) along the outer area of the run that I just tilled by digging and burying the fence. Why miss this opportunity to plant some stuff?! Plus it will be a natural wind barrier.
Pavers/decorative stepping stones in front of the run door so as to cut down on the mucky muck of fresh dug dirt.
Things I would do differently:
For some odd reason my husband didn't buy pressure treated wood so everything needed a coat of paint. By the time I got done with the fencing, I said "forget it" and am dragging my feet in terms of painting the run. It's going to be a pain and I don't want to do it. He readily admits his foul.