My family and a few of our friends are looking to start raising backyard chickens. We will be “hosting” the hens since our friends do not have enough land. Instead of a farm co-op, we'll call it a coop-op. I tried to find answers to these questions on-line so feel free to just send me links if there are some that I missed.
Here are the specs:
2.25 acres + >1 acre common area (meadow) where they can forage
Regular sightings of red foxes and hawks
12+ hens expected, but room to grow is not bad
Do I need a run?
I plan to have the hens forage most of the daylight hours on our lawn and in our meadow. I like the idea of a coop without a run because I can more easily move the coop since we are not yet 100% sure on a permanent location. I don't want to mess around with fencing or any type.
Do I need electricity?
The coop will be located in a place where we don't currently have electricity. Extension cords won't be practical for the long term and definitely not during lawn mowing season. If I have chickens who can handle the cold, don't I still need to defrost the water or will it stay unfrozen in the coop? Is solar a good cost effective option? I could also run cords during the coldest winter months.
A local purveyor, which I trust, sells coops from the Hen House. We are currently thinking the 4'x6' coop or the 6'x10' combination. I may be open to going to the 6'x12' combination if I have to go with a run since the price isn't much more and I'd be already going with something fairly immovable.