So your still interested in taking on the chicken challenge. You have checked your city ordinances, know the number of chickens you can legally have and you are ready to hire an architect to design the coop de la coop. It’s amazing how much money some people spend to house chickens that cost under $5 a piece. In reality you will spend a couple hundred on a new coop if you decide to build it yourself or go on KSL.com and check out the coops for sale there. The internet has a lot of cool plans as does websites such as Backyard Chickens and City Chickens.
The style is yours but there are a few pointers I will give you on what the chickens need in a house and an outside pen. The house needs to have about three square feet of floor space per bird with nest boxes that are accessible from the outside, perches for the chickens to roost on, space for a heated water base (for winter), and space for a hanging feeder. I would advice that you elevate the house to discourage mice from taking up residence under the structure. I originally designed my coop to go next to the house under my power box. The design was simple and not my ideal but I had to make it fit the one place I received permission from my wife to have it. The coop lasted in place for about six months when guess who changed her mind and had me move it to the lower part of my yard (where I originally wanted it in the first place). Go figure. So I had my stepson help me carry the coop to the new location where I had built a screened in base with a long pen for the birds to access. My outside pen is approximately 3 feet by 25 feet and I decided to put a rooftop garden over the pen (to not lose that much valuable garden space) and on the end I have a lid I can raise to access the pen and three other access doors to the pen on the sides. I believe the bigger the outside pen the better. I do allow my chickens to forage in the yard but only under strict supervision (damn dog).
The most important part of the pen is security from predators (see damn dog comment above). I screened the outside pen with 1/2 inch hardware cloth which I have buried one foot deep into the ground and one foot bent outward away from the coop. That way when animals try to dig in they run into the bent out wire. Hardware cloth is tough stuff and it is what I use on my compost bins.
I would advice if you decide to buy chicks you better get going on the house. Chicks will need to be inside under a heat lamp for about six weeks so you still have time to build but don’t delay….chicks grow fast. If you decide to buy chicks then stay tuned for part three of the chicken blog which will be about raising chicks, pullets and the best types of chickens for urban areas.
Hope you find this information beneficial. Mistakes happen and it is hard for children to understand where there pet chicken has gone and you try to avoid explaining that the dog ate it.
Did I mention the dog has been chewing on my nestboxes……..