If you are new to this venture, the coop is where chickens sleep, roost and lay eggs. The run is a protective enclosure for the chickens to somewhat run around in outside of the coop. Chickens need to be protected from predators such as hawks, eagles, raccoons, foxes, etc. There are a number of installations that help in preventing predators from harming the birds. These range from using concrete blocks around the perimeter of the base, a poured concrete foundation, gravel and hardware cloth.
The size of the run and coop both depend upon the number of chickens that you plan on keeping and the type of chicken species as well. I've also found that it is recommended to plan a little bigger on the coop/run just in case. As far as the size goes, the square footage varies from one source to another; where one source will indicate ten square feet per bird and another will say that four is a general rule. Whether or not the chickens free range is important as they'll need more or less room in the coop/run.
Looking at BackYardChickens.com, we had hoped to find detailed plans indicating "what and how much". Unfortunately, such plans are nearly impossible to find unless you're willing to settle for a lousy shack or pay for the several advertisements available. If we were so inclined, we could also purchase a kit and assemble it. As easy as that would be, I'm not too keen on paying $500+ for a kit with lower quality wood.
Continuing our search for samples, we came across a couple that built an impressive coop/run combo. The couple manage a website called steamykitchen.com. They called their coop design the Palace Chicken Coop and they detailed the construction of it here: The Palace Chicken Coop. They have a link for a Google Sketchup plan (very useful) and plenty of photos showing how they built it. My wife and I do like the appearance and the size. However, the issues that have me somewhat concerned are Scott's justifiable disclaimer (being not an architect nor an engineer) and their location, Florida. Reading their posting and the numerous comments that followed, I was concerned that living in Florida would have a vastly different weather cycle than living in New England, where we are. Their foundation was also not very deep, practically at ground level, which would lead to frost heaving issues in the north. The lack of snow in Florida also has an impact on the structural supports were it to be in our area. This is not a negative to Jaden and Scott, the post creators, they live in an area that is completely different than our own and likewise, our coop would have to be modified to reflect that.
|SteamyKitchen.com - The Palace Coop|
Future postings will update the design and construction phases of our Chicken Coop.