Here is the design that we worked on for the entire spring. The coop was built to generously house 6 chickens. I live in New England, so it had to accommodate cold winters, muggy summers, rain, predators (fisher cat, fox, hawks, owls etc). The coop is raised about 2 feet off the ground to prevent rodent infestation, prevent flooding and create a section of shade in the run.
We started with a frame and a floor plan of 4x5 feet. In hindsight, I would have made the floor plan bigger to accommodate more chickens in the future if desired. I used linoleum for an easy-to wash down floor. Every single inch of the coop in insulated, including the walls of the nest boxes, the doors, ceiling and walls (this may be a bit over-kill, but better safe than sorry in my opinion!)
The three Nest boxes are 16x16 for 6 chickens - I am very optimistic!
As you can see, we added shingles to the roof, a drop guard, a vent (purchased from a home improvement store) and workable windows. Luckily, my uncle used to sell windows and had a few samples sitting in his garage he was able to spare! The legs of the coop are 4x4's that are stabilized with 4x4 ground stakes - they were a good alternative to pouring concrete in the back yard.
The other side with the pop-door cut out. This is the other nice *free* window we installed! On second though, I would have installed it inside out, so that it could be opened, closed and locked from the outside, it's too difficult trying to reach inside to manipulate - plus all the bedding and poop get in the working parts. Oh well!
Pop-door installed with a latch (which was then relocated to the side, and a hook and loop were on the bottom to keep open). Yes, this too is insulated!
Inside is painted with exterior house paint (as suggested on this site) for easy hose-down cleaning.
Nest boxes are painted and lined with linoleum as well.
This is the run that will allow a self-contained space for the birds. We have dug a 12" trench all the way around to prevent predators.
A back view of the coop. The nest boxes will eventually have shingles and siding. The back door is flush against the inside floor of the coop. This way I can scoop soiled bedding straight out in the a wheelbarrow with ease. I also have a vent in the back for cross air ventilation.
The coop front is finished. I inserted a piece of removable 1/2" hardware cloth on the inside of the window. This allows complete ventilation for the summer, while keeping out predators. The windows themselves easily pop on, so I can put them on when the evenings start to get cool again. Underneath the coop is fenced in with hardware cloth. Since I was not able to dig a rench here, I used 1" chicken wire for a floor. I attached the sides and secured the "floor" with 6" garden staples into the ground. This helps the wire stay flush on the ground, and the sides secured to prevent a predator from getting in. The chicken wire floor will be covered with some dirt to deter pecking and digging at the wire.
The run sides are made from hardware cloth, and the roof is covered with chicken wire. Eventually we will attach corrugated plastic roofing to keep snow out some winter time. The door has a secure latch that automatically latches when the door is closed *don't forget to insert a mechanism to unlock this type of latch from the INSIDE of the coop - I almost found this out the hard way!* As you can see, the chicken ramp has not yet been completed, but the makeshift ramp works fine for now.
Hardware cloth was painted black using a roller, and not it is virtually invisible from a distance - you can look right through. I screwed a few natural perches inside as well.
Climbing plants are already planted in front of the run to cover the beams and will create a more natural look. I plan to have a flower bed eventually as well.
Things I have changed already:
-Discovered the Miller auto waterer is NOT meant to be a hanging!!
-Switched out 1.5" dowel roosts for 1x3" plants
Things I would change:
-Make the coop floor plan larger
-Install vertical window inside-out for easier access
-Install a pulley system for hanging waterers.
-Make nesting boxes slightly smaller
-Consider making run taller than 5ft tall - cleaning and raking is difficult hunched over
Still to be done:
-Better watering system.
-Install sand-box in the run for sandbaths (the ground has too much clay and is often hard)
-Eventually cover run floor with some sort of bedding/sand to help beak down manure
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