Every year Atlanta's Wylde Center organizes an Urban Coop Tour. Tour participants Bonnie Smith and Jennifer Campbell designed this stylish chicken coop, one of two in their backyard, to create a chicken habitat that would be "good for the chickens, good for the environment and good for humans." They based their design on a plan they found online, and used donated and recycled building materials where they could. The copper flashing and shingles were donated and the cinder block foundation was found on Craigslist.
Crafty candle holders and a string of colored lights help create an easygoing atmosphere in this back yard chicken retreat. "They are wonderful little blood-pressure-lowering creatures," says Bonnie of her eight birds.
Homey touches in the large coop include chicken pictures and a curtain hanging over the opening to the egg box. Chickens need their privacy, of course.
The lovely "Barbara Mandrell" -- the name Bonnie and Jennifer bestowed on this very photogenic Buff Laced Polish hen -- clearly believes raising urban chickens is cool.
Chickens Eat Their Wheaties
A Radio Flyer serves as the dinner table and container for the homegrown wheatgrass used to feed these chickens. "Emmylou Harris," the black-and-white Barred Plymouth Rock hen, is the coop's undisputed lead-hen, says Bonnie. Jennifer plants wheatgrass seeds in the wagon, rolls it out into the sun, and eight days later the hens have a lush lawn to feed on.
It's About the Eggs
Bonnie and Jennifer decided to start keeping chickens after getting hooked on the taste of eggs they bought at a local farmer's market. Now, their neighbors benefit from the extra bounty from their chickens. A gift of eggs brought to a brunch ensures a second invite, says Bonnie.
Simple But Cute
The smaller of the two coops in Bonnie's and Jennifer's backyard is a simple design that took less time to build than the large, designer coop. The coop doesn't have curtains or pictures on the walls, but does include large, circular windows for ventilation.
Carton From the Country Queens
Bonnie and Jennifer designed an egg carton label bearing the names of their eight chickens, who were named after their favorite country stars.
Kristen and Rob Hampton's mini-farm straddling two properties in Atlanta includes a freshly-built coop and a 1,550 gallon rainwater cistern used to irrigate contoured swale-and-berm earthworks. "I wanted to produce more food," says Kristen of her reason to create the mini-farm with chickens. "And is there anything more perfect than a hen who can take a juicy jumble of scraps, pellets and grubs and transform this into a perfect, entirely fresh and useful food? They are real alchemists."
In building the coop, the Hampton's used salvaged materials including a door found by the curb in their neighborhood. The egg box on the Hampton's coop was made from wood salvaged from Kristen's family cabin on Lake Sebago in Maine.
Egg Box With Character
The egg box was finished with hinges taken from the shutters on Kristen's family cabin.
Nineteenth Century stained glass decorates the outer wall of the Hampton's chicken coop in Atlanta. Use your imagination and you might see the design of a chicken in the glass.
A lush grass-covered "couch" provides the perfect place to relax and listen to the sounds of the chickens roaming the Hampton's mini-farm.
Overflow from the 1,550-gallon rainwater cistern goes directly into the Hampton's gardens, which the chickens are free to roam.
Cool Urban Coop
In a clever use of space, Bridget Wynn and Matthew Hicks built their 6 x 10 foot backyard coop against the granite wall of Atlanta's Freedom Park Trail. Bridget and Matthew say walkers along the trail don't even realize they're walking just above a tiny urban chicken paradise.
Shade provided by the granite trail wall and the plantings that include fruit trees and a muscadine vine provides relief from the sometimes oppressive Atlanta heat.
Bridget and Matthew, like many urban chicken keepers, have to deal with the presence of hawks. They laced this screen across the open chicken run to keep their chickens safe from the winged marauders. "They are much more like cats than we ever expected," says Bridget of her hens. "Very stubborn, creatures of habit that love laying in the sun grooming themselves. They also love to run around in the rain, which was unexpected."
Those who raise chickens call the relaxing act of observing their hens, watching "chicken TV." If chicken activity provides good viewing, this comfy chair certainly offers the perfect roost for curious customers at Atlanta's Garden*Hood garden center.
Urban Chicken Fans
Garden*Hood garden center in Atlanta doesn't sell eggs from their chickens, nor do they sell chicken feed. Instead, the coop gives the center a chance to advocate raising chickens as an integral part of urban living.
The Chickens and the Bees
Atlanta neighbors Scott Thompson and Veronique Perrot consider their 16-chicken coop neither pretty nor cute, but rather a permaculture environment that makes the most of free resources. Included in the coop are four bee hives, which the chickens help keep free of hive beetles.
Repurposed Garden Shed
A nearly century-old garden shed was re-purposed for the chicken shelter in Scott's and Veronique's coop. Stacked bricks raise the shed off the ground to give the chickens shade in addition to that provided by the privet and muscadine vines. The rakes are kept handy to gather the eggs laid beneath the shed, among other chicken-coop duties.
Scott's and Veronique's chickens are kept happy and healthy feeding off black soldier fly larvae grown in BioPods and kitchen scraps from nearby restaurants.
Ten families care for the 14 chickens at the Wyle Center garden in Atlanta. The hen house has a roughly 350-square-foot, fenced-in lot where White Leghorn "Flopsy" and her friends can "play." Other breeds at the coop include Buff Orpington, Rhode Island Red, Silver-lace Wyandotte, Polish Hen and Barred Rock. The chickens reward their keepers with 3-8 eggs per day.
The Wylde Center positioned a bee yard next to the chicken coop. The chickens keep the bees healthy by eating bugs and weevils.