Security Measures Complete
We're big believers in redundant systems around this house. So we have secured the run and the henhouse against evildoers, and even made it harder for said evildoers to get into the other half of the shed that is not henhouse territory. But no, that's not enough. We've built a box inside the henhouse where they will sleep at night. (actually, we just enclosed the nesting boxes we'd already built and added a couple latches.) Short of installing a security alarm or an electric fence, I think we've done all we can. The nice thing about this redundant system is that if we think we might be out late, for instance, we can lock them in the run & henhouse area and let them put themselves to bed in The Vault, knowing that they are already in a quite secure structure. Then when we get home, we can just come out and latch The Vault closed for even more safety.
Helpful hint for those of you considering building a coop: Unless you are much handier than we are, enjoy little construction projects more than we do, and have a ready supply of lumber, nails, tools, etc. already on hand, you can probably buy something for about the same price as you can build it, and it'll be a better thought-out design, too. Our feed store has metal or wood nesting boxes for $20 (we built our own, and it turns out to be surprisingly difficult to build a box), and they have a nice little "chicken tractor" style coop--an enclosed run and little box to lock them up at night--for about $450. You'd still need a way to prevent critters from burrowing under and a few other enhancements, but it's basically done. We also really like the highly portable Caboodle that a guy in Fort Bragg makes--a wine barrel on wheels, with a roost and nesting box inside. Just park it anywhere in the garden and lock them inside at night. Cost is about $775, but if you live nearby he delivers and gives you two hand-raised Ameraucana pullets to put in it, feeders & food, plus "technical support" via e-mail and phone. (and there are cheaper options if you don't want the personal delivery and chickens included) Sounds like a pretty good deal to me, especially for city chickens in small backyards.