Our new house came with a partially-fabricated chicken shelter and run. We're starting to plan out how we can finish it off, but I'd really appreciate tapping the BackYard Chickens hive mind to help make it the best it can be.
This is the structure we're working with. The upper level has a deck and playhouse-type thing that my ten-year-old is enjoying (but I expect she'll grow out of shortly). The bottom level has been converted into a chicken shelter and run.
This is a not-so-great picture of the inside of the shelter. It's an octagon, 80" across. I'd say it's about 5 feet tall...not large enough to stand up in, but not horribly awkward for a quick dash in to grab something. There are no existing windows, ventilation, etc...except for the wide-open entry way that opens to an fully-enclosed run.
We've been considering how to make this a fully-functional (and easy to maintain) coop, and have been toying with the following ideas:
- Installing a human-sized door over the entry and installing a smaller chicken entryway within it...we don't want it drafty.
- Adding some windows for sunlight and ventilation. We plan on putting these on the west-facing side of the shelter, because it's the only side that isn't shaded or blocked by decking or stairs.
- Artificial lighting via solar or battery-powered LED.
- Nesting boxes will also go on the western side of the shelter, with access from the outside. (See the dog's rump in that first picture? That's roughly where the first couple of boxes would probably sit, with more to the left.)
- Feed and water....I'm still trying to figure that one out. In the shelter? In the run? Whatever solution I find, I'd like to avoid fattening up the local rat population.
- Cleaning: this is the tricky part. I'd like to put in poop boards, but I don't want to hunch over daily to get in and out of the coop to do it. Thanks to that wrap-around decking, there isn't a lot of easily-accessible exterior real estate (especially if I already have windows and nest boxes taking up a lot of space). So...one thought is that we could take out the raised wooden floor, dig down a little, and pour concrete. It should help with accessibility and cleanliness, but would be a pain to uninstall if we have regrets.
Anyhow...I'd appreciate your thoughts and wisdom! We don't mind putting work in now, but don't want to kick ourselves a few months later when we realize we've overlooked a super-critical (or super-handy) piece to keeping our chickens happy.
Edited by kellysanderson - 11/1/15 at 9:38pm