I’ve had 4 chickens for about a year now. 2 red “sex links”, one smaller spotted chicken, and one fancy brown, tan, and black colored chicken.
I built my own chicken coop. IIRC it’s about 5x8’ with a flat slanted roof. The front wall is taller than the back wall, and I left a ~5x1.5’ opening at the top of the front wall for ventilation. I covered it with chicken wire to keep animals out, but I have a piece of plywood I cover it with in winter time to keep it warmer inside. There are tons of coop designs online, and I looked at some local ones close-up too to get ideas. Building a coop is pretty fun, and as long as it’s reasonably sturdy and keeps the rain out it doesn’t have to be beautiful.
Inside the coop is a 3-nest nesting box (accessible to the outside through an access door on the left side of the coop), 2 roost poles about 4 feet off the ground, a ramp between the poles, food dispenser hanging from the ceiling, and a metal water fount sitting on some bricks with a birdbath heater underneath to keep it from freezing in the winter. They poop anywhere and everywhere, in the nesting box, in their food, in their water. That’s why it’s important to keep the food and water off the ground. I keep a ~4" layer of straw on the floor of the coop and in the nesting boxes.
I normally get 4 eggs a day in the summer and I get from 1 to 3 eggs a day over the winter too.
They have the run of my fenced-in back yard, and I leave the top-hinged side coop door open about 5" so they can get in and out. They always go to into the coop before sundown. I haven’t seen any rats or raccoons messing around, but there was a hawk/falcon on the coop roof one morning. After that I put netting up over and around the coop, haven’t seen any birds of prey messing around since. They don’t mess with the yard (other than leaving poop all over), but they like to dig in the flower beds. In a way it’s nice because they get rid of the weeds, but smaller delicate plants probably won’t fare too well. They also like to dig at the house foundation, so I need to bury wire or something along there to discourage them.
My chickens are curious but very stupid. They follow me around the yard like puppies. I occasionally hear some clucking from them but overall the occasional sounds they make are very quiet.
I worried about them being outside on 20 degree nights. From everything I read chickens do fine in cold weather, you just want to give them shelter that dry and out of the wind. As long as they have food, water, and a roost pole big enough so they can sit on their feet they will be fine. They have multiple layers of feather with downy feathers underneath, it’s like they’re wearing a warm coat. They go outside every day whether its cold, rainy, snowy, or all 3.
As far as day-to-day care, I just go get the eggs in the morning and sometimes in the evening. In the mornings I throw them a cupfull of “scratch”, which looks like crushed dried corn. I vary the location I throw it at, make them hunt and scratch around for it. They love it. On Saturdays I clean out the coop, use a pitchfork to remove poopy straw and put fresh down, and give them new water and more food. That’s about it.