I'm new to BYC and to raising chickens (I have raised ducks before and done some work on a farm that had laying hens and broilers) and was hoping to get some advice.
I'm planning on having separate caged in coop and run areas for 4 chickens. Both the coop area and run area would be simple structures using ptl and hardware cloth. We have plenty of predators in the rural area we live in and I don't trust the simple pre-fab coop I'll be using initially to protect the chickens from foxes, raccoons and hawks. The plan is to take the chickens out of the coop area in the morning and put them in the enclosed run area until dusk when I'd bring them back in for the night. The outdoor run will be 4'x8' and I plan to be able to move it around our yard every couple weeks so they get some new territory to peck at and so they help us fertilize the backyard! I've been lurking on BYC for a while and think I have this part somewhat figured out as the hardware cloth enclosure and a 2' apron should be sufficient to keep them safe (though if anyone has other recs, I'm all ears!).
The area for the coop is the part I have questions on. We have a large raised deck in our back yard above a ground level area that has loose stone for the flooring. There's a door that leads directly from the garage through the back to this sub-deck area. My current plan is to put a 4x8 frame enclosed with hardware cloth around the pre-fab coop I bought (http://www.hayneedle.com/product/boomerandgeorgetreetopschickencoop1.cfm). I realize this sounds like overkill but my wife insists her chicken babies be inside fort knox.
I'm planning on putting the coop on a painted and waterproof stain treated plywood board. I've already put down the edging, the paver sand and have the board laid down. All of it fits fine and the board is stable enough on the sand. However, I'm still unsure whether I can just put the coop and enclosure directly on the board. Usually, even though the board is painted and waterproofed, I would be hesitant to use it as a flooring because I'd be worried about cracking and rotting (this isn't marine grade plywood or anything high quality either). However, because the board flooring is already somewhat protected from water and extreme temperature fluctuation because it's under the deck and because the area is gently sloped I'm wondering whether I'll need to add something like pavers for the flooring. The coop will also probably protect the flooring from the water somewhat and I can also lay on some roofing on the coop enclosure to funnel water away from the board (though I wasn't planning on it) but I'm still worried that the board might deteriorate pretty quickly. As long as the board lasts for a couple years I'd be happy since eventually I'll put together my own new coop and probably flooring, but I'd appreciate feedback on this. Should I wait and see on this or should I just go ahead and add pavers or another layer of roofing?
The idea behind this configuration was that it would protect the chickens from anything trying to dig underneath at night and that it would be an inexpensive option (I had a 4x8 board lying around). At the end of the day though, I'm willing to shell out a little extra money if the others think this isn't a good idea.
Thanks for putting up with the long post! I figured I'd try to be as detailed as possible and appreciate any advice.