The chickens are currently living in a converted shed off the back of the garage. While this is working well for now, the goal is to move the chickens to the back of the property. This means we’re to build a new chicken coop. Considerations are predator pressure (coyotes, raccoons, and hawks), winter survival, chicken comfort, and caretaker ease.
While perusing the site Cabin Porn — do not worry, this is simply a website full of cabins across the world and any people are fully clothed — I came across this elevated chicken coop in Sweden. I was struck by its appearance and practicality.
With a little more research, I realized that this was not a chicken coop but a bear cache. Anyone who has camped in the northern half of North America knows to elevate their food at night or put it in a bear-proof container. This design appears to be a common Scandinavian bear cache.
I sat down and designed a chicken coop based on these photos. Our coop will have an interior of 30 ft², which is 3 ft² per bird. It will have 10 ft of roost, a large two-paned window, three lay boxes, water, food, ventilation with winter baffles, deep litter, and a baffled doorway. Most of the materials will be available here on our property: we downed a spruce last spring and will be taking down another dead one on which we’ll mount the coop, and the windows were given to us by a neighbor.
The window will give the birds plenty of light as well as letting heat pass into the coop. Coops must be well ventilated, even in the winter, because the chickens give off so much moisture and ammonia. Therefore large vents will be hidden under the eaves, but I am going to build baffles that close when a wind gust hits them, keeping the birds from getting potentially deadly drafts. Instead of mucking out the coop each week during the winter, I’m going to use the deep litter method, where straw is added until a foot of litter is built up on the floor. This gets turned and adds heat to the coop as it composts.