Just Another Coop Design...
I used the backyard chickens forum extensively to settle on a design for our six chicks purchased in the spring of 2009. In an effort to "pay it forward," here's some pics and specs on what we built here in Upstate New York.
Overall Cost of Construction: $400.00, this includes estimated cost of some materials that I had around the house (shingles, some 2x4's, paint and stain, etc.)
Time of Construction: Built with the help of my 5-year-old son in about 40hrs.
Size: 4 x 8' coop with 8 x 8" run, height of run and coop 4 feet.
Materials Used: 2 x 4" frame with 1/2" plywood for walls, roof and floor. I even ripped some of the 2 x 4's down and used 2 x 2's for some of the wall framing. The thicker plywood enabled me to do that. The open air windows are covered with hardware cloth stapled to the plywood on the outside and then covered and nailed through with the red trim in the pictures. The run is covered with typical chicken wire buried to about 6" (lazy) and then stapled to the 2 x 4 frame. No foundation here, just a coop propped up and leveled on some big (8" or so) cobbles and field stones. If it starts to lean one way or the other I'll just prop it back up again. Note the triangle shape braces supporting the run, these were key in strengthening what was otherwise a pretty flimsy frame.
What I'm Glad I Did: Thanks to other forum users for some tips that have saved me a lot of headaches. I'm glad that the floor is flush with the door opening so that I can easily sweep out old shavings instead of having to scoop them over some kind of lip. I'm happy with the design with the nesting boxes right next to the door. This method works fine and saves the time and expense of having to built the attached nesting boxes with the flip-up roofs. They seem to work great, too, but this is just as good without all the extra expense and construction hassle. I'm glad we only got six chickens, as we're already getting backed up with eggs!
What I would have done Differently: In hindsight, I should have spent the extra bucks and made the coop and run at least 6 feet tall. The original idea was to keep everything in measurements divisible by four for easy plywood use with little waste. But it's a pain bending over to get into the run and clean out the coop itself. I also should have used regular chicken wire to cover the windows as opposed to the hardware cloth, which is far too expensive for me! I absolutely should've have built the coop in place instead of in the garage. By the time I was finished, it took four grown men and a pickup truck to get it where we needed it.
What I've Yet to Do: I still have to stain the door to the run, its as though I have a mental incapacity for finishing any project. It would take about 10 minutes! I'm also going to built a small matching roofed box for our feed and backup bedding. For some reason, even a sealed plastic garbage can still yields mold in the feed, and it is a temptation for a local raccoon that has been terrorizing the neighborhood. I'm also going to construct some kind of lever to raise and lower the chicken's door to the coop so that I don't have to crawl in the mud every time I want to close the door.
Overall, we're happy with our end result and the ladies seem to be happy as well. We've had no issues with predators thus far and the coop appears to be well prepared for the coming snow. I'll be adding some glass covers to most of the exposed windows in the coming weeks, then they'll be good to go! Thanks for checking out my page, and thanks to all the other backyard architects for the info!