Planning is important when it comes to getting chickens — time passes quickly when raising baby chicks. After 4-6 weeks, what was once a fluffy little chick is now a lanky teenage chicken that wants to jump and fly out of its brooder. By 6-8 weeks, most are fully feathered, no longer need the warmth of a brooder, and are ready to move out to a coop. So, just as you would plan ahead to have a brooder ready when your baby chicks arrive, you’ll want to have your coop and run ready to go by the time your chicks are ready to move into it.
As you can imagine, we’ve seen our share of coops over the years. In this article we are highlighting several coops we like and sharing what features we think are essential for keeping a happy and healthy flock. These coops range from pre-fab to completely custom.
OUR CUSTOMERS’ CUSTOM COOPS
After 103 years in business, we have seen our share of unique coops — just take a look at this photo album of coops from one of our old photo contests. Each year we receive photos from our customers sharing their custom coops designed to fit their unique personalities and needs. These three coops are just a few of our favorites: the mobile chicken coop designed by Jake Grzenda of White House on the Hill, the beautiful double-door coop by Whitefeather Farm, and the very impressive Hatt Coop in Washington state.
Late last year, our friends at White House on the Hill moved to their new farm. Jake spent much of the winter building a mobile chicken coop — and it’s no ordinary mobile coop! It’s a full-sized chicken coop with a walk-in door, attached rain barrel, solar powered chicken door, and cupola and weather vane on top. And, it’s all built on a steel trailer which can be moved around his farm by hitching it to their truck. White House on the Hill is known for keeping a wide variety of chickens, emus, pheasants, ducks, turkeys and geese. Their chicken flock is living in style now in their very impressive mobile coop. Click here to view the video where they unveil the finished coop.
Many of our customers have beautifully designed and creative coops that fits their personalities. One of our favorites is Wildfeather Farm who we follow on Instagram. Wildfeather Farm is home to Arrow and Aurora, a pair of Sebastopol geese, and countless other geese and chickens. The beauty of their two exotic geese is matched by the picture-perfect coop they have designed. This all-white coop features double-doors that open wide, a coordinating white picket fence and a stepping stone path entry, and large lettering that spells COOP above a perfectly centered nesting box. Their coop and birds can be seen on their Instagram account at @wildfeatherfarm.
This Spring we have been following along on Instagram as one of our customers in Washington state built the #HattCoop. This massive structure is built to withstand four feet of snow load during the winter winter months and protect their flock from wild northern predators including raccoons, hawks and eagles, coyotes, and cougars. Hatt says, “If predators want in they’ll have to work for it pretty hard unless somehow, inadvertently, we forget to swing a gate closed or latch a door.” The exterior is an impressive 16’ x 32’ with an insulated and raised hen house in the center measuring 8’ x 16’. Head over to Hatt’s Instagram to see the step by step photos he took while building this amazing coop.
PRE-BUILT COOPS FOR BACKYARD CHICKENS
Backyard chickens have become increasingly popular over the past decade and more and more people in urban areas look to live a more sustainable life. Today, chickens are being kept in backyards from coast to coast and from suburban backyards to the center of New York City. Even celebrities have been known to keep chickens like Jennifer Garner, Isabella Rosselini, and Martha Stewart. Along with keeping chickens comes the desire for coops with personality and pizazz. A few of our favorite pre-built coops include the Chicken Chick’s Essential Coop, Cutest Coops, and the Eglu from Omlet.
CHICKEN TRACTORS FOR PASTURED POULTRY
Interest in homesteading is on the rise as more and more families look to live a more intentional and sustainable life. One of the main tenants of this trend is establishing meat or protein sources on the homestead as an alternative to what many believe to be a broken food system. Pioneers in this field like Joel Salatin of Polyface Farms, John Suscovich of Farm Marketing Solutions, and Justin Rhodes of Abundant Permaculture and the Justin Rhodes Show teach newcomers how to raise pastured poultry in easy-to-move chicken tractors. These moveable coops give meat birds such as Cornish Cross access to continuous fresh grass while creating healthy pastures with vital nutrients from the birds’ droppings. These mobile chicken tractors are lightweight, low-cost solutions that are relatively easy to build — often made with reclaimed materials.