I would like to try keeping three or four chickens in my suburban backyard. we are allowed 3 by law, no roos. Could some of you turn me onto a good , very simple, BIY chicken coop for a small flock, and I might need to build a simple "tractor", because they need to move around but I dont' want them pooing all over the lawn.
Do I need to have electricity to the shed? in winter time for heat or light?
Consider me an absolute newbie to chicken keeping.
I'm a little familiar with where you live. I've been up that way several times from Eugene where I used to live there. (GO Ducks!)
Depending on the breed of chicken, you should be ok having a coop or pen without heat. If what you end up building with doesn't have electrical access your winters should allow you to just put out hot water two or three times a day during the "freezing" parts of winter.
My winters are much harsher in the NE and while I use heated waters for our 5 months of winter, my girls love to sip on warm water like tea on really cold days.
Certain breeds are known for being more hardy and laying through the winter, no matter the conditions. I personally have never used a light in the coop as heritage breeds aren't affected by daylight length as much as commercial layers. It is the length of day that slows or stops winter production, not usually the temps.
For three or so hens it should be very easy to make/convert something into a "coop." I'm pretty sure Seattle still has an annual Coop Tour that might give you some great ideas. I've seen the pics and some of the coops are amazing, but I've also seen some great coops that were made from all kinds of recycled materials.... old windows, doors, paneling, dog houses, campers, kids play houses, fence panels propped together in an A frame, truck camper shells attached to a movable pen, under the kids trampoline, cheap shed from a home improvement store, and on and on. The question is more of what are you trying to keep out of the chicken area? Are dogs, racoons or hawks a problem?
All my good coop sites are still on my other pc, but if you google DIY coops, homemade hen houses and such... you will find some great sites out there.
This a really good site for- A. chicken pictures and B. researching breeds for cold heartiness, personality, rate of lay, and all the quick facts on a breed. Grab a cup of java or hot chocolate and click on each breed that interestes you and enjoy. Researching birds is fun! (To me anyway)
I think there is also a little quiz somewhere where it will tell you the best breeds for you/where you live. Chicken Breeds
I'll try to remember some more of the sites I used in my research and post them when I can find them.