I spent all day today designing our chicken coop. The chicks have been ready to go outside for over a week now.. They're getting too big for the playpen and a little smelly. My Dining Room is definitely ready to be rid of them too. The room is covered in a corn dust from their food. If I clean everything, it's covered in dust again in less than an hour. It's ridiculous!
My mom offered to buy us a coop as a wedding anniversary present (our anniversary is in June). She gave us a set amount, and had a coop in mind, but told me to look around online to see if I could find something else I liked. I found a couple really cute coops that were in the price range, but according to user reviews, only fit 2 chickens comfortably. We currently have 5 (though 2 or 3 we'll be giving away), but we expect to get more in the near future. The coops that would fit more chickens were crazy expensive... even if my mom was offering that much I could never spend that much on a coop.
So... I went back to my original idea. Converting our shed into a coop. We have the cutest little shed in our yard by the woods. It isn't being used now and it's far enough away from our neighbors houses that they won't bother anyone. It even has a window.
I decided to only dedicate half of the shed to the chickens. The other half would be perfect for storage... both chicken storage and garden storage. Even though we aren't using it now, I figure if I put up shelves I'll be more likely to use it. We also made the decision to put the outside play area off to the right, hidden by the woods and shed. When we put in a fence for Madison, we'll be more comfortable letting the chicks free-range, but until then, they'll have their fenced in outside area. This will also be better for when we go away on weekends or on vacation. They'll still be able to go outside but we won't need to worry about them getting out or being eaten. After many many hours, this is what I came up with:
The coop will take up half of the interior space. The storage space will be in the front. We'll also put a plywood "roof" on top of the coop that we could use for large storage tubs. There will be human doors outside and inside. We will be insulating the walls and ceiling and then installing plywood over the insulation. On the floor we're going to putting down vinyl roll flooring, which will make it easy to clean with a mop or hose. I'll be putting hay over the vinyl floor.