When I was growing up we used to let our chickens just run around the acreage all day and then they would go to the coop at night. I have tried to raise chickens the same way, but there are so many people that just let their dogs run loose that they end up in my yard on my chickens. The last time while I was at work, the dogs chewed through the wire to get to them just as they were all laying good. I have almost given up on raising chickens since they are at the bottom of the food chain. All animals want to eat my chickens. I have caught a Linx, a bobcat, countless dogs, hawks, owls, snakes, etc. in my yard after my chickens. My Mother donated enough material for a good coop this time and come next spring I am giving it another go round. It is hard to do it all over again, but I just love chickens so much I will give it another shot. Good to see you all here!!!
Gosh I hope all goes better this next time around free_bird! I have my coop so the main door is solid aluminum with aluminum sill plate screwed at the bottom to hang past the door. Keep anything from chewing their way in. I also have the chickens door lock from inside, and their window has a shutter on the inside that also bolts shut. Their run is completely enclosed. Roof on it too. Run isn't fool proof but for the most part, its pretty durable. We lock the girls in every evening. Means no sleep overs away from home for me but not a sacrifice to me. Love my girls too much to ever risk anything happening to them if I can help it. I also keep my german shep outside with them when they are out to roam the yard. She lets me know if anything is remotely in the area. I still plan to put a heavy metal set of bars over their back coop window that is high up and over the one above the main door. Anyway, just some ideas for ya to help you out as you plan your next coop. So far so good, the set up we have, has worked. Chickens are really such a joy to have. After we got ours little over 2 years ago, I can't imagine not having them. They bring too many smiles and much laughter to our days. Good luck to you! Glad you found this forum and joined us. Lots of good info on here I've found as I scratch around the site.