After losing four of my beloved chickens to an attack from the neighbor's dog, and then another to a raccoon brought in by the smell of injured birds, something had to be done. My husband, best friend, and I spent a day in the sun building this place for my little friends to be safe and sound in. Of course, I couldn't allow them to live in a plain abode, so with the help of my trusty box of acrylics, I solved that problem.
The nest boxes are a 15" by 15" plastic planter boxes we got at Lowe's, and then added the face board on the front. It helps the chickens to feel more "nesty" and it also keeps the eggs in the box! They seem to like that astro turf in there, the hens seem to need to kick and scratch and dig with their little feets before settling in to lay eggs. It's also a little insulating, and easy to clean.
We mounted the boxes on simple shelves just about 2 feet off the ground (chickens like elevation). It will keep them dry, and I also put a 1"X1" strip of wood along the tops of the boxes, so they have somewhere to roost at night. The doghouse sort of apparatus is made of plywood, and has an additional nesting box inside for the discriminating hen. The white hen (Raptor) seems to like spending the most time in there. Unfortunately, the only birds actually -laying- eggs are the two smallest, the little banty cochins (feathery feet, big round poofy tails)! Their eggs are crazy rich and delicious though, so I'm not complaining.
Black sexlink is The Captain (from Aqua Teen Hunger Force "tar monster" episode, "the captain's feeling a little sexy, who wants to come up here and feel sexy with the captian?"), the buff orpington is Big O. Good shot of their dust bath area, The Captain loves to roll around and get all dusty in the cool dirt. There used to be an ant hill located there, but the chickens were all up on the ant genocide, so they're all eaten and gone.
Little Girl (banty cochin) standing in front of the chicken house. It looks like she laid a mushroom! Also, chain chomp. She's by far the most curious of our birds, and lays the tiniest little eggs! Her black iridescent feathers are gorgeous.
This is Mama. She's one of the smallest birds in our flock, but she's absolutely the top hen on the totem pole. She's a banty cochin/rhode island red mix, has extra toes, and is full of personality. You can see three of the nest boxes (there are a total of seven in the coop, although we really only need one per four or five chickens). Her nest box is the Shy Guy one.
The Super Mario house! I pulled some of my favorite enemies from the earlier games, I was all about Mouser when I was little. There are also little chicken totem poles on here, with little cartoon versions of my real-life birds (minus one who was killed by the dog). They like to go in here and be cool when it's sunny out, there's nice dirt to dig and scratch around in. They also like the raised doorway, so they can feel more secluded and private.
My favorite chicken, the rhode island red is Uno. She was left with one tail feather after the dog attack, and she and I bonded while I was nursing her back to health. The black and white one is Darles Chickens, and is a silver laced wyandotte. They like the big weave on the chain link fence, they can peek through and nibble at the fresh grass growing outside of the coop. Both of these chickens are just a couple of months old, they haven't filled out or gotten fat like my older hens. They should start laying eggs within the next month or two.
Close-up shot of one of the nest boxes, before I put the astro turf in. I used rub-on letters for the monster names. I chose to attach the face plate with wingnuts so I could take the boxes apart easily for cleaning. Everything is modular, so I can change and move stuff as needed.
Full view of the new chicken coop. We used our old dog run (dogs are WAY too big for it now) and then topped it with a narrow weave plastic mesh. The only predators we really have to worry about around here are raccoons, other dogs, maybe raptors, and maybe possums, so we didn't need a narrower weave on the walls to keep out weasels or snakes. The chickens spend their day out in the yard, and then go into the coop at night to sleep safely. That lawn chair set up is so I can sit and watch my chickens. It's amazingly relaxing, believe it or not! They're just the funniest little animals.
Mama lording over her territory. Good view of the nest boxes all lined up, as well as their water bottle. We mounted the feeder under the shelves, so it's out of the rain and the chickens can't poop on it. They really don't discriminate when it comes to relieving themselves.
Cameo of Uno's butt in the lower right corner of the picture, you can see how her feathers are growing back.
I'm glad my chickens are so happy in their new home. They're safe and secure and are getting spoiled daily with lots of fresh produce and even the occasional treat of nightcrawlers bought from the local fishing supply shop.