Letter Re: A Predator-Resistant Chicken Coop Design

After reading the article about protecting your chickens, I would like to comment on my solution.  After experiencing my early failed attempt at chicken raising because the possums would chase the night dumb chickens back and forth against the chicken wire enclosure and extrude them through the chicken wire eating as they pulled, I built chicken coop number two. 
First I built it off the ground with a slightly sloping plywood floor covered by galvanized sheet metal ship lapped to protect the floor. When pressure washing, the water flows to the outside.  At the low end I raised the wood stud base plate up 3/4″ (on pointed wood spacers below each wall stud) to allow the water to drain into a gutter on the outside.  I put removable tapered wood pieces in the gap to keep the snakes out. A lip on the spacer allows removal with a flat shovel.  I then paneled the walls up 4 feet.  The next four feet is hardware cloth on three sides so the animals cannot reach through.  I have an aluminum roof of surplus house trailer porch panels.  Inside I have nesting boxes, a roost, and a closet on the back side for gathering eggs in a closed in room through hinged and latched access doors.  This closet is great for my incubator and I could use it for baby chicks but I currently put them in a garden area with the hen.  Out of 30 chickens, I only have two that will set.
I built a closed in chute into the closed in garden area, which includes a wire roof.  The chickens have access to five different garden areas that can be individually separated.  From the adjacent garden area,  I built a small opening with a slide door two feet off the ground.  On the outside of the opening is a horizontal metal grate (I used stainless) suspended on electric fence isolators. Plastic tie wraps worked great.  I put a thin stainless plate on the ground below the grate.  This is not necessary but guarantees a charge.  I installed a 12 volt fence charger to the grate and to a ground rod with an additional wire to the bottom plate.  I use 12 volt because of future power issues.  A small solar panel keeps it charged and solar fence chargers are available.
The chickens being two legged jump up on the grate without being shocked.  The four legged animals reach up and get a shock as they are grounded.  I later had to add plastic sheets around the door opening as I had a baby possum get through.  The only problem I had is a big chicken walking under the grate and touching the grate underside while grounded.  A fence under the grate around the grate posts would fix that.  The fence would have to be grounded.  I used this method for months and could leave for days at a time or not worry about coming home after dark.  Since I go to work before daylight, they could leave as needed.
Since I now have geese, ducks and prior turkeys which are all stupid, I have quit using the device.  I put them up at night now.
I am building coop three in the deep woods.  I am using stainless for the floor as the galvanize is starting to rust due to the acidic chicken manure.  I am going to experiment and see if the chickens can live with out me feeding them. I may not check them for days at a time.  The design is the same but with my hot water collectors on the roof.  I have noticed the chickens are not eating chicken feed if they are free range.  I also feed them wild bird seed which they devour.  I note the wild game is not eating the corn and sunflower seeds we are putting out including my chickens. Perhaps it is because chicken feed is now made with GMO grain. 
I put up a fake owl over the garden and I have not lost a chicken to chicken hawks since even though they range a 100 yards away.  Before, I lost at least one per week.
I bought three of your latest books and sent two to my daughters.  I have just started reading last night.  So far it is a little slow compared to your first book which I could not put down and which caused me to spend since 2007 prepping day and night.  I built a container house complete with living areas all on solar including refrigeration.  Since I now realize I cannot defend the house, I realize that was a mistake and therefore I am working on plan C which is more remote.  My live in nurse girlfriend is getting tired of not going anywhere on weekends.  The video I saw recently of biker types raiding retreats got my attention.  If events transpire as expected, I have you to thank for my being prepared. – Jim T.

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