Chicken Coops for Backyard Flocks
See Rock City
The owners of this tin roof chicken coop wanted to create a home for their chickens and guest houses for visiting bluebirds: "We read that bluebirds like to have 15 to 20 feet of open space in front of their nesting houses. When we built the coop, we left the posts tall on the back side. My parents brought me the 'See Rock City' house, which I was thrilled to have because it's a great nod to my happy Southern childhood spent hiking and camping with my family. The Rock City birdhouse lets guests know we want them to be relaxed and happy in our garden."
The owners said landscaping was a key factor in the positioning of the coop. "We thought about the placement for several weeks. It made sense to be on the far side of the garden because it's tall and creates a separation between our yard and the street that runs behind our next-door neighbors' yard. It works as a privacy screen and looks like a charming shed or rustic playhouse. The screens across the front of the structure came from my grandparents' house when it was torn down. The major drawback to our design is the lack of a human door, which makes spring cleaning the coop no easy task."
Playhouse and Pond
After a bout of empty-nest syndrome when their children went off to college, the homeowners decided to "fill their nest with chickens," turning an unused playhouse into a coop and adopting 10 chicks. The owners enjoy time spent in this picturesque backyard, laughing at the antics of their flock and petting the ones that like to sit on their laps. While the chickens don't willingly go for a swim in the pond, they do drink from it now and then.
This coop and chicken run earned the name "Poulin Rouge" by the families who share it. The design includes kids'-eye-view windows low on the sides. Because the structure is raised off the ground, the shaded area below is a favorite hangout spot for the chickens during hot summer months.
The nesting boxes in the Poulin Rouge coop are made from wooden wine crates. Doors cut into the back of the nesting boxes offer easy access so eggs can be gathered from outside the coop.
"Many people think chicken coops are filthy and hard to maintain, so we thought the modern design with its clean lines would help break the stigma for all who meet our ladies, and to date it's worked," report these urban chicken farmers. "We built it so we can clean the house and gather eggs without stepping into the coop, which is important when you're gathering eggs for breakfast in your slippers."
After reading about predators, they scrapped their initial design and rebuilt the structure, dubbed "Fort Coop," stronger with more predator proofing.
Coop With a View
Plexiglass windows in the side of this coop allows a clear (and entertaining) view of the hens making their way up the ladder to lay eggs or roost for the night.
Mobile Chicken Home
Not sure where you want to place your coop? Consider a chicken tractor. Ideal for owners of small flocks, these bottomless structures are built to be light enough to move around a yard for example, to a sunny area in the winter and a shady location in the summer. As these coops can be more vulnerable to predators, ideal designs include a roosting area off the ground secured with a door that can be locked at night. The owners of this tractor coop love its portability: The hens can enjoy grass in various parts of the large yard, and the lawn has time to grow back when the coop is repositioned.
Located in a historic neighborhood of small bungalows, the owners of this coop had two goals in mind when they designed and built it: to create a structure that's similar in style and color to the owners' house, using a design that can be converted into a shed or playhouse if the owners decide to move. Other features include windows on two sides, two vents that can be opened for ventilation and a hatch to collect the eggs on the back side. There's even a human-size door entrance on the front right and a small run attached to the left of the door, complete with a corrugated roofing panel that can be raised so the hens can enjoy more sun and a breeze. In addition to the pleasure of spending time together building it, the owners love that they were able to incorporate two windows from her grandfather's farm.
Enhancing a Store-Bought Coop
This is a store-bought coop that the owners chose for its easy-to-clean slide-out flooring. They modified the structure, adding a vent on the roof, a sign as an awning and decorative flowers. This small coop is the perfect size for two chickens. Be sure to check with your city or county to see if there are code requirements as to square footage per hen when planning a coop.
Little Coop, Big Run
Although the coop is small, a large chicken run provides plenty of space for the hens to be active and to allow easy access for the owners. Hardware cloth with 1/2-inch-square mesh, instead of chicken wire with its larger openings, was used on the top and sides of the run for increased protection from predators with skinny arms, like raccoons.
Out of concern for the risk of predators, the owners designed this extra-big coop with wraparound run. They hired a carpenter to construct it. The corrugated plastic roof panels allow in plenty of sunlight in the winter, which helps with egg production. During the summer, adjacent trees provide shade.
Because of a "co-op" coop arrangement with a neighbor, there's never a need for a chicken sitter, and two families get to enjoy about 30 eggs a week from the five hens. Soon the families will be adding five more to the flock. The family next door raises the chicks until they're old enough to live in this big house.
Indie Garden Center
The design of the Big House Coop in the previous photo was inspired by this chicken coop at GardenHood, an independent garden center in downtown Atlanta. Curious shoppers and staff on break, enjoy resting their feet and observing the chickens.
GardenHood is one of the stops on the annual Chicks in the City urban coop tour. Many other cities, including Austin and Pittsburgh, offer self-guided coop tours.
The screen door, window box and paint color of this cottage-style chicken coop mirror the owners' bungalow located in a historic neighborhood. The owners prize their coop for its storage space where they keep extra hay, cedar shavings, cleaning supplies, as well as metal bins of chicken feed and scratch. The only changes the owners say they would make: to extend the chicken run and to possibly add a fence around the coop so the hens wouldn't have access to the yard and garden plots.
Teepee Coop and Compost Bin
Inspired by the conical tents used mostly by the Great Plains American Indians, large culms of bamboo form the outside of this coop. Flaps secured at the top can be dropped down for shade.
The owners' chickens especially like the adjacent compost bin, and their scratching and pecking help aerate it and break down the organic matter. The hens also add their own droppings, which serve as excellent fertilizer. Note: If your chickens have access to compost, don't add food scraps that would be bad for them to eat, and be sure to watch out for mold.