I have waited three years to have a full size walk-in chicken coop and we are finally under construction. I'm sure all my friends are laughing, but glad to see it coming to fruition because that is probably all I talk about to them. (They are very good, patient friends.)
I know that many people just have a small "tractor" type and are satisfied with their movable unit. But I have dreamed and designed a larger house over and over again in my mind and on paper. Finally, I came up with just what I needed after hours of thinking about this project.
Where we live there are always predators seeking to get an easy meal. We've already lost hens to a rattlesnake, a neighbor dog, and two to coyotes and bobcats. Large hawks can be an issue as well, but I haven't lost one to the bigger birds so far. Because of the wild animals, if I let the hens run loose, I have to be right there watching all the time. This just isn't practical - I've got too much to do. So we went back to keeping them caged nearly 100 percent of the time. I hate this, especially since our run is very small. Here is our current coop:
The problems with this house are numerous. It only holds about 5-6 hens comfortably, the run is too small, and it doesn't allow me to separate older hens from new chicks that I am introducing. Also, it is designed so that the roof lifts up in order to clean it out. If my husband isn't home, no one can get inside. I tried to lift it along with one of my daughters and it wouldn't even budge. Even if I could get it open, I can't reach where I need to because of the tall sides. So obviously it doesn't get cleaned as often as I would like.
In the new coop, I will be able to walk inside easily. There will be three areas inside, all screened off from floor to ceiling: an area for raising new chicks, an area for the hens, and a little "closet" with a utility sink and tool storage for clean up. Above in the ceiling there is an area for extra feed storage and such. Off of each side of the coop there will be two large enclosed runs; a smaller run for the chicks and a larger run for the hens. When I'm not raising chicks, then I will open up their area and the chickens will have full use of both sides of the hen house. And obviously this coop will allow us to keep it clean more often, too. I'm so excited I can hardly wait. I keep asking my husband "What do you have to do next?" which is an adult disguise for "How much longer until we get there?". He's very patient.
The pictures below show the process and where we are as of today. Soon he'll be adding siding and the large runs, but of course, not fast enough for me!