After watching our neighbor's chickens, we decided to get our own chicks to fuss over, and trying something truly unique, we built the entire coop before the peeps arrived.
We had some chickens while living in Northern Idaho and Utah, but mostly they free ranged. Ah but here in Northern Virginia is a cat of another color, and we have an overabundance of fox, raccoons, possum plus the neighbors free roaming dogs and cats, so some serious thought was needed on how to best protect this flock.
Read through all the great ideas and suggestion from y'all here on Backyard Chickens, seen the neat pictures of coops, both big and small, checked out pre-made coops at the local farmers co-op and Tractor Supply stores, looked at all the different options and placement of nesting boxes, doors and window.
I drew-up a rough sketch of what I wanted, with the number one criteria, IT HAD TO BE CUTE, with practical part running a close second. And my delightful and bless his soul, extremely talented husband, took my rough thoughts and put them into a working floor plan.
We did it all in 8 weekends, from digging holes in very rocky ground and under huge tree covered area so there where HUGE roots to contend with, to roofing shingles to spray painting.
Our coop is 8 x 12 under roof, with a 36 inch covered covered porch ("with the required railing and hanging floral baskets"), the storage area is
8 x 5 with 3 2x3 vinyl windows with screens so it has good ventilation and has enough room to handle all the feed, bedding and nesting boxes, and we installed a full house-sized steel door with external screen door which will allow for airflow. The brooder is 4 X 8 with two roosting bars that are stagger across the back wall plus access to the nesting box, and connects to the storage room with a 30 inch wide screen door, and brooder has12" x 12" chicken door to outside yard, that has a pulley system so it can be opened and closed without entering the actual brooder.
The ceiling is 7 foot tall throughout, all the walls are insulated and then covered with white Masonite for easy wash down, pine floors with the brooder portion covered in linoleum.
The coop is completely wired.
Behind the coop is a attached 8x8 metal-roof-covered yard, that is fully enclosed by wire to keep all the local critters out. We call it Fort Knox. There are two gates, one to get into covered area and another that then goes into another yard, roughly 24' x 50' area with 6 foot fence that has the bottom 12 inches rolled out and covered in stone, and then ran electric wire about small critter height and another wire running along the top to keep out climbers, plus added bird netting to ward off harks, owls and crows.
Here is the outside yard
After 8 weekends of construction, 16 Silver Lace Wyndotte peeps arrived via USPS and moved into the brooder. Immediately Barclay, our Scottish Terrier, wanted to see what all the commotion was about. He and the chicks have become close, they ride on his back, and he watches over them like a mother hen,... think with time and training he'll be a excellent "flock' herder.
And here is a movie of the contruction. We work really fast!