We have been keeping chickens for about six years. They started out in a double wired walled enclosure with a netting over the top, not sturdy enough for around here. This coop was stalked by coyotes, hawks, owls and neighbor’s dogs and penetrated by weasels, raccoons, possums, a bobcat and a bear. The snow collapsed the roof one year, the bobcat tore it open several times and ate 11 chickens in one week. The bear just tore open the top, jumped the fence and ate their food. Enough already! So….. tired of all this, we set out to build the better coop. ( I can say ‘we’ because I did all the planning while my husband did all the work ) Pretty sweet deal ! 😉
Setting things up right the first time can really save you a lot of time, trouble, aggravation and money. You will enjoy chicken keeping far more if you talk to people, read, search and learn everything you can before you plan the placement and design of your enclosure. Plan for the particular issues in your area.
So maybe we went a little overboard. 😉 We set out to build a fortress, with a few decorative touches, and eliminate most of the difficulties that we had with the old coop eg: very muddy, soggy soil in the winter, snow collapsing the roof, wind damage, animal break ins, freezing water, muddy slippery path, too far from the house, too dark to collect eggs in the winter without a flashlight and hauling heavy water containers a long way. We have planned to solve all these problems with the new poultry fortress.
Here is the new chicken fortress featuring:
7,000 lbs of concrete, 4 insulated skylights, gutters & drainpipes, living succulent roof, stained glass window, glass door & windows, heavy woven wire panel (weighs about 200 lbs)
future improvements: water hydrant inside, porch and inside lights, & power (for brooder lights and water heating in winter)
This coop has withstood one winter so far with snow and very cold days. We ran an extension cord for the water heater. We never had to go out with hot water and thaw the water. YEAH! We live in an area that gets high winds. The wire panel allows for lots of air and ventilation but protects them from the direct wind. It also looks like a display window from the yard. The roof keeps the ground dry so ‘dust baths’ are always in season. We still have the inside to finish, more on that later.
We are also in the planning stages of a daytime chicken tractor adaptation. The goal is to be able to move them around the yard so they can forage for weeds and bugs while protecting them from predators. More on that later.
We started out like so many chicken keepers, we work for them, building, cleaning, watering, feeding, protecting. I’m hoping to turn that around (at least somewhat) and have them work for us, laying eggs, making compost, weeding, tilling and fertilizing areas of the gardens where we need work done. More about that as things develop.