NOW WE HERE!
This is my entry for the coop design contest. That automatic chicken door would be pretty useful, since my door has already closed prematurely several times, causes one of my chickens to get eaten by something, and sent several others to roost in a nearby tree! Here's the coop I started with 4 years ago (4 chickens), and here's where I am today with 11 beautiful girls!
I started off with no building experience at all. I knew we wanted 4 hens, so I looked at pictures on the forum and just copied a lot of great designs. My original coop was about 2.5x3.5, with an extended egg box. I decided to go with the cedar shingles because it was cheap and looked nice.
The back of the coop was just one big door so I could clean it. The roof on the egg box lifted up so I could get the eggs. As seen in this pic above, I added a strip of linoleum flooring over the hinges to keep the rain out. It worked great! There's' also a small window on the wall opposite the egg box, but the front and back vents worked great.
The run was 4 ft by 8ft, which was fine because I let my girls free range all over my 3 acre property. I don't have pictures to show why I replaced this run with a larger, roofed one, but believe me, it got nasty in there. Unprotected from the rain, it just turned into a muddy, poopy, mess. The first winter I simply wrapped the entire thing in plastic. It kept the snow out alright, but looked terrible. I needed a more permanent solution, plus we wanted to add 2 more girls. In the spring I came up with this!
I had a bunch of fence panels that I took down from my yard, so I decided to put them to use. I'm not sure if anyone else has tried this, but it works perfectly for us. I started by digging some holes for the corner posts
Again, I decided to be resourceful and use some rocks from my yard as well. These used to be around multiple flower beds in our yard, but were sunken in the ground and useless. I thought this would be a good way to keep the run from getting soggy because moisture would drain through the cracks. I covered the rocks with sand and figured it would work like a giant litter box. Once again, I was wrong. It required too much maintenance and stunk after a while. Eventually I removed all of the rocks except for the outer edges, leaving a boarder so it would be harder for predators to burrow in. So far, so good.
In place of the sand, I just dump my leaf clippings. I have plenty of them to last all year, and it's practically no maintenance. I just add more leaves every couple of months and change them out about once or twice a year. The chickens turn it into compost and we put it in our garden! No smell, no maintenance....what could be better?
When I put up the last panel, I put it on heavy duty hinges so that the entire panel was a door
I used plastic roof panels. After adding a flowerbed around the coop, we thought we were done. The coop was beautiful and functional. The new run was 8ftx8ft, plus the space under the coop as well.
My wife's addition
This past winter I started to get the itch. I had been wanting more chickens since we lost two to a hawk, but we didn't just want to go back to 6. We decided to go big or go home, so my wife and I went with 12! We raised them in our basement (I'll never do that again ) starting in March, and by May I knew I had to expand the coop. I hated to do it, but we took down the old coop and built a larger one with fence panels. We also added a run with chicken wire and t posts because we just got sick of stepping in chicken poop. Also, my girls loved kicking all of the mulch out of our flower beds. As of this summer, here's what we got!
I added a door to get the feeder in and out easier. Even though there's a latch on the panel, it just kept coming open, so I had to screw it shut. Now it only gets open when I have to clean it. The fence panels that we added on replaced the old 2.5x3.5 coop with a 4x8. Plus, it's not off the ground. I decided to go with this design because I wanted to make adding leaves easier. They're just spread out on the ground so the chickens can scratch, eat bugs, and make compost. Oh, we even added a little guard raccoon statue I couldn't be happier with this design. I also added a door so they could go in and out of the run freely.
3 layer roosting posts
Here's my new egg box design. Instead of a roof that lifts on a hinge (started leaking after 4 years), I did this
We also upgraded the roof to plywood and aluminum, but I used one of the old plastic panels for a skylight
Here's a view from the back of the uncovered part of the run to give you a better idea of the size. I even reused the old roof to make a little shady spot
Well there it is! Hope I included enough detail and helped anybody along the way! This coop really is a dream. I used lots of stuff I already had, and created a very low maintenance, beautiful addition to our property. Thanks for viewing!