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Coop Dreams
February 17, 2012 10:45 AM   Subscribe

With the growing popularity of backyard chickens, some people are raising the art of the coop to a new level.
posted by ambrosia (62 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
In Portland, you can put a bird in something and call it art!
posted by griphus at 10:47 AM on February 17, 2012 [7 favorites]


They painted it white??? Clearly these people have not owned chickens before.
posted by Big_B at 10:50 AM on February 17, 2012 [4 favorites]


This is awesome. (Love the title of the Dwell article)
posted by 2bucksplus at 10:50 AM on February 17, 2012


The Heather Bullard link is insufferable. My farmer family would have a field day if they say stuff like this.
posted by narcoleptic at 10:50 AM on February 17, 2012 [4 favorites]


But the hens—a Bantam Frizzle named Da’ Frizzle Fo’ Shizzle, a Barred Plymouth Rock named Barred Rock Obama...

Ewwwww.
posted by ZaphodB at 10:51 AM on February 17, 2012


So, um, honest question: are people raising chickens as sources of eggs or meat, or are they supposed to be pets? Because one of those posts mentions specifically that no roosters are allowed. Um...no rooster means no eggs...
posted by LN at 10:51 AM on February 17, 2012


Backyard chickens or, as I call them, hippie rat magnets.
posted by docgonzo at 10:51 AM on February 17, 2012 [5 favorites]


They lay eggs without a rooster. They just won't be fertile eggs.
posted by Ostara at 10:52 AM on February 17, 2012 [11 favorites]


That first one is OK but the other two...I dunno. If I'm going to homestead, I want it to look rustic.
posted by DU at 10:53 AM on February 17, 2012


Um...no rooster means no eggs...

Not true at all. No roosters means no fertilized eggs. Hens keep laying either way.

(I get all my eggs from a friend with a dozen or so hens, all of which are named after important feminist thinkers. Except for the rescue, Nugget.)
posted by restless_nomad at 10:53 AM on February 17, 2012



What is up with this? Not only am I supposed to be managing my own poultry and egg production, but I'm expected to have a lovely French Provincial coop to do it in???

I do love fresh eggs, but come on, you can't pay more at the farmer's market like everyone else?
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 10:54 AM on February 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


Kind of dollhouses for chickens, innit?
posted by 2bucksplus at 10:54 AM on February 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


If I were raising chickens, I'd eat the eggs but the real bonus would be the free garden slug removal and fertilizer.
posted by DU at 10:55 AM on February 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


Yeah, sorry, scratch the rooster comment - I'm hopped up on cold meds and should know better than to post.
posted by LN at 10:56 AM on February 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Some of my family keeps 6 or so hens in their suburban backyard so we get lots of free eggs. They really don't take a lot of up keep and DU is right, they are awesome at keeping the yard/garden pest free and well fertilized. But they also keep pairs of "outside shoes" by their back door so as not to track poop indoors.

Those are some of the best eggs I've ever had.
posted by Big_B at 10:59 AM on February 17, 2012


My pet chicken Beatrice has a much smaller coop which hangs from the fence, because she doesn't like being near the ground at night. It was built without plans from leftover wooden fencing.
posted by Ery at 11:01 AM on February 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


But...but...these are all boring! Where is the imagination? Where are the turrets and towers? Where are the crazy colors and the fun touches, like chicken artwork on the walls and a little chicken swimming pool?

It's like what someone said upthread: they're chicken dollhouses. If I were to build a dollhouse for real live beings to live in, it had damnwell better be interesting. If I had chickens and the amount of time and money that these people spent on creating their nice, boring looking chicken McMansions, I'd build my chickens the chickeny version of the White House or St. Basil's Cathedral, or a little chicken castle. The chickens don't care what it looks like. So long as it's a nice place to scratch and lay eggs, they're fine. There's a whole world of possibilities beyond boring.

Clearly I need to go into the coop-building business.
posted by Elly Vortex at 11:13 AM on February 17, 2012 [5 favorites]


The paint is Behr Ultra Premium Gloss Finish in Decorator White

*groan*

Farming fail. The correct answer is "remnants from, uh, I forget where, we'll get to that unpainted side some day, we ran out"
posted by Meatbomb at 11:13 AM on February 17, 2012 [9 favorites]


RE: rustic
I think of this chicken coop set-up at Sapsucker Farms in MN.

Movable and functional.
posted by jillithd at 11:14 AM on February 17, 2012


Oi fuck I missed the copper plated cupola. Get my rifle.
posted by Meatbomb at 11:15 AM on February 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


Full disclosure: when I think chicken coop, I think of something like this. My town won't let us have chickens, though.
posted by ambrosia at 11:17 AM on February 17, 2012


Glad there is no tic-tac-toe to be seen.

Those bird bastards are just pretending to be brainless.
posted by Celsius1414 at 11:19 AM on February 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm confused... Are these hipster chickens or one percenter chickens?

Either way I'm supposed to hate them right?
posted by Kabanos at 11:21 AM on February 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


My friend near Manchester, UK names her hens after Doctor Who companions.
posted by Pallas Athena at 11:29 AM on February 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


When [cost of coop] > [cost of purchasing eggs elsewhere] I think there might be a disconnect somewhere. Yes, the eggs are fresh. Great. But this? This just makes me hate faux chicken farmers.

My dad used to bring us fresh eggs from the school farm. We spent a lot of time there with the birds and other animals. Hell, I have a small round scar on my leg where a fiesty bantam cock spurred me that time I got too close to "his" side of the henhouse. I know chickens. Chickens are dirty little bastards. They make great fertilizer, they and their eggs taste great, but they do NOT need a cutesy little "oh how precious look at me!" fantasy farm playhouse. They need a safe place to sleep and food to eat and water to drink. Anything you build for them will end up shit upon and filthy. And their pretty feathers quite often end up nasty and in an enclosed space the weak one in the group is likely to end up hen-pecked. Have you ever seen a hen-pecked chicken? Do an image search if you want, it's downright horrifying at times.

If urban "farmers" want a healthy flock they need a space to roost and sleep, an enclosed area for roaming, the chance to freely roam around a larger area on a regular basis, and single-chicken-sized retreats so that picked-on hens can escape from the others if needed.

Chickens don't need Martha Stewart building them a house. Their needs are pretty simple, which is why urban chicken raising is attractive in the first place.
posted by caution live frogs at 11:33 AM on February 17, 2012 [8 favorites]


It's all very Portlandia until 2% of an urban population dies of avian influenza.
posted by KokuRyu at 11:35 AM on February 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


They painted it white??? Clearly these people have not owned chickens before.
Yeah. But, there's no "Chicken Shit" in the Martha Stewart paint chips.
posted by Thorzdad at 11:37 AM on February 17, 2012


Sapsucker Farms in MN.
I like the use of driving-range golf-ball buckets as egg collectors.
posted by MtDewd at 11:38 AM on February 17, 2012


We're actually thinking about a small flock of guinea hens for our new yard... 1) they eat ticks and mosquitos and 2) they're vicious, and will scare away coyotes and intruders, but leave squirrels and yardbirds alone.
posted by Slap*Happy at 11:46 AM on February 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think this is the coolest looking coop ever.
posted by Windigo at 11:53 AM on February 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Slap*Happy - guineas are extremely noisy, if you're living in a neighborhood or keeping them close to your house.
posted by annathea at 11:54 AM on February 17, 2012


Lemme tell you something about guinea hens, Slap*Happy. Yes, they eat ticks and are good watchdogs, but they make a godawful, gut-wrenching racket all day long.
posted by Camofrog at 11:55 AM on February 17, 2012 [5 favorites]


Ah, annathea beat me by a few seconds, but I brought the noize.
posted by Camofrog at 11:56 AM on February 17, 2012


You win, Camofrog.

*covers ears*
posted by annathea at 11:58 AM on February 17, 2012


£2,000 designer chicken coop: nogg.
posted by Kabanos at 12:20 PM on February 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm pretty sure my family's coop is nicer than my apartment. That said, they live out in the country, not with me in Chicago. I've never been terribly interested in keeping urban chickens myself. A lot of work for not a lot of return. And most urban chicken keepers get attached and end up paying for room and board for post-menopausal hens that don't produce anything.
posted by melissam at 12:38 PM on February 17, 2012


Those really are some nice chicken houses.
posted by Ad hominem at 12:42 PM on February 17, 2012


I wish our neighbors would make use of this "coop" technology.
posted by univac at 12:44 PM on February 17, 2012


Pfft. Raising chickens is so last week. We're raising our own herb garden and seafood this year!
Okay, my wife's students will be doing something like this initially as an add on to the current hydroponic garden. But we'll get one set up at our house eventually!
posted by charred husk at 1:00 PM on February 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


If part of your hen-raising experiment or whatever it is involves posting pictures of it all on a blog, you are doing it wrong.

I'd happily live in either coop, though, so maybe I'm doing something wrong.
posted by broadway bill at 1:06 PM on February 17, 2012


I call bullshit on all of this. These people are doing it so goddamn wrong it makes my brain itch. I want to punch something.
posted by that's candlepin at 1:10 PM on February 17, 2012


So, um, honest question: are people raising chickens as sources of eggs or meat, or are they supposed to be pets?

From what I gather it depends on the person and purpose. Most of the non-farming people with little coops in the backyard name the hens and get eggs from them on a daily basis. They will also consider them as pets, thus the naming, and would never think of killing one of them for a meal. Why do that when you get eggs anyway? Yeah, I know. I love me some chicken meat too, but that's not the point for most backyard farmers. So, yes, some people consider them as pets. Sometimes overly much.
My sister, not being a hipster at all, got a few, 2 or so years ago and ended up picking up a couple more a year later. Do you remember the Looney Tunes character that would grab the wabbit, and hug dem, and squeeze dem, and love dem foreva? That's her. I consider it a little unhealthy, being that we live in a rural area and odds are that one of the many predators around here will put her in a fit of hysterics over making a dinner out of them. A couple of weeks ago the RI Red was "attacked by a hawk" (out of sight for a couple of minutes), which called for a lot of crying while running up and down the driveway calling her name (which is completely ineffectual otherwise). Although, I thought it was a bit much when I was told the doghouse with doors, wheels, and a fenced in area cost them six hundo. But after the most recent winter storm it was decided the storage barn should be cleared and they should be kept enclosed in what amounts to a small house to "protect them from the weather". My smirk and quip about them surviving without it for all this time was not appreciated. That aside, I rarely get any eggs, even though I eat store bought on a daily basis.
posted by P.o.B. at 1:26 PM on February 17, 2012


My chicken-owning friend definitely considers them pets, if pets that more or less break even on their care (She gets more eggs than she eats for much of the year, and sells/barters the extras.) She wouldn't ever kill them for meat - her oldest, post-menopausal hen is apparently the very best mother hen and raises all the new chicks for her every spring.

But then, most of the birds she has are not meat birds anyway, and wouldn't really be worth eating. They're much more useful as roach and bug control anyway. (And god DAMN they're cute. I'm not usually a big fan of pet birds but watching the flock patrol her garden is adorable.)
posted by restless_nomad at 1:32 PM on February 17, 2012


a friend with a dozen or so hens, all of which are named after important feminist thinkers

That makes it more fun when you chop their heads off!
posted by banshee at 2:21 PM on February 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


We had three hens until 3 days ago when a red fox got two of them... Having laying hens is great. They are quiet, very easy to take care of, and they crank out 4-5 eggs per week per bird. If you get the right breed they are very friendly too. Not quite pets, but sort of. My kids carry them around and love to feed them.

Only downside is that everything with teeth, claws, or a beak wants to eat them. You need a serious pen or it's just a matter of time until they are gone.

You think this website is popular? Go to backyardchickens.com. You will not believe...
posted by Patapsco Mike at 2:53 PM on February 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


You know... this is it. Where the teens make a clean break from the "aughts."

The last decade was about government contracts and hummers and escalades. This decade? Chickens in the back yard.

I'm OK with this.
posted by Slap*Happy at 6:25 PM on February 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


I have four chickens in a nifty self-designed 4'x6' coop set inside a 14'x10' pen. It has an upstairs completely enclosed with the nest box on the side, and the downstairs is fenced with chicken wire and gives them a place out of the weather, but with fresh air.

The idea was to let them out to clean up fly larvae in the horse pens, but naturally, DH has to let them out into the yard and garden. Nothing better than stepping out into the grass on a stinkin' pile of chicken crap.

I lost the rooster to an owl this winter. No great loss, but I'll be a little sad if it gets one of the hens. Hope it has the good taste to get one of the older two. Owls, hawks, badgers, and coyotes I don't mind feeding so much, although don't make a habit of it. With skunks, raccoons, and random dogs, I would escalate into open warfare.

Yes, there are only a few chickens, but this ain't no suburban coop. They won't get eaten (gawd, who would eat a scrawny old hen?) They don't get named, and at three-four years old, schrrrick! Off with their heads and out in the desert for the coyotes. Old chickens don't lay well, and I'm out for eggs, not feathers.

Four chickens just about gives us enough eggs, but it's fun to give away huge brown eggs. People seem to think they're pretty nifty, so I think I'll get a four more chicks this spring. So I'll have Buff Orpingtons (great layers!) Sex-linked reds (pretty good) and Rhode Islands (we'll see.) All shades of red, and pretty ornamental.
posted by BlueHorse at 8:43 PM on February 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Our girls are pets to the extent my kids probably wouldn't eat them, and they have names (Russell and Bocka - yes, Russell is a hen). They eat all our kitchen scraps and are at the peak of their laying, giving us 12-14 eggs a week.
Our coop took a weekend (admittedly with a two month break between day one and two) to build and cost nothing but some nails and screws. The local dump is a good place for free coop building materials.
I am horrified at the idea of $1000 chicken coops, but chickens are easy and cheap.
I would warn against letting them run free if you have a garden you value - the buggers love to eat seedlings and dig up flower beds.
posted by bystander at 9:29 PM on February 17, 2012


I have five new chickens. I used to have three, plus a guinea hen, but I gave away the guinea hen because I couldn't take the noise (see above). Weasel Claus dropped by the coop while I was away for Christmas and went Manson family on the rest. It was okay with me, since they were past their egg-laying prime.

I don't think of my chickens as pets at all. They don't have names. They eat our leftovers (including eggs and chicken), patrol the yard for bugs and grubs (I haven't seen moles since I've had chickens), make more eggs, and create excellent material for the compost heap.

Get a backyard-chicken egg and break it into a bowl alongside a storebought egg sometime. You'll see.

I spent maybe $150 on my coop, worth every penny when you factor in the side benefits.
posted by Camofrog at 10:49 PM on February 17, 2012


Can't believe nobody mentioned the VW bus converted into a chicken coop yet. (Sorry about the Fox TV link, but I couldn't find anything better.)
posted by xil at 10:54 PM on February 17, 2012


They don't get named, and at three-four years old, schrrrick! Off with their heads and out in the desert for the coyotes.

I don't get this... doesn't this mean you just stew / season it a little longer? Or feed it to the dogs or pigs or something? No snark, just trying to understand how old chicken meat could be so bad.
posted by Meatbomb at 1:21 AM on February 18, 2012


I guess these pretty coops only work if you have a posse of poor people paid exclusively to scrub up after the chickens. I mean really. Those things would look like crap in the space of three weeks after having real chickens live in them. But maybe they don't. Maybe these people have genetically engineered chickens that don't poop.
posted by RedEmma at 7:14 AM on February 18, 2012


I've built three coops. All of them were total buttskate, but they had sturdy doors, and were completely covered with chicken wire.

I love our chickens, they really are cute. But the coop is supposed be ugly.
posted by roboton666 at 9:46 AM on February 18, 2012


But the hens—a Bantam Frizzle named Da’ Frizzle Fo’ Shizzle, a Barred Plymouth Rock named Barred Rock Obama...

Ewwwww.


This. Aside from the blatant racism in the naming scheme, anyone with taste & good sense would give a Barred Rock hen a name from Shakespeare and a Frizzle a name that would make a Vegas showgirl proud.
posted by echolalia67 at 10:42 AM on February 18, 2012


As for fancy chicken coops this one takes it to a whole new level of ridiculous awesomeness.
posted by echolalia67 at 10:51 AM on February 18, 2012


Wow, echolalia67. There's a chandelier in that chicken coop, and framed art, and flowers. The owner cleans out the chicken poop every day.

Money spent on a fancy chicken coop is money spent on decor, not on the chickens. There's nothing wrong with decorating your back yard the way you like. I guess it's her business if she wants to spend her hours on unnecessary cleaning.
posted by Ery at 11:00 AM on February 18, 2012


Meatbomb: laying hens do not carry a lot of meat on them. They are surprisingly bony and lean, unlike store-bought meat chickens. The difference in build is greater than the difference between dairy cow and beef cow. So you have a bony chicken. You kill it. Then you have to screw around pulling the feathers out of it (this is not fun or easy) and then you have a skinny chicken that, yes, you could stew or something. The meat is edible, but there's not much of it and it's a lot of work. Comparatively, you do a lot better with squirrels (smaller but way easier to clean).
posted by which_chick at 3:55 PM on February 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


Bystander: scrap lumber the DH wanted to haul off makes the best coop! A coat of paint hides a multitude of sins.

Meatbomb: which_chick has it, with this addition: My chooks run around on an acre+ at least half the day. These boogers get some exercise. Not only are they bony, but string as all get out. These are the type of chickens that you boil with an old boot, then throw away the chicken if you want to eat something tender. I raised meat chickens the same way, and while they were tasty, they were tough and turned out to be stew birds, not fryers, even though I butchered them young.

between Meatbomb and which_chick, this whole thing is echickysterical
posted by BlueHorse at 4:08 PM on February 19, 2012


That Coop Dreams website is a hoot!

[The chickens] have been trained to come in the coop on their own at night...

Yeah, riiiiight. Lady, chickens come in to roost. Every blessed night. Thank heavens it's instinct, because their little brains couldn't remember where they lived otherwise.
posted by BlueHorse at 4:15 PM on February 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Meatbomb: which_chick has it, with this addition: My chooks run around on an acre+ at least half the day. These boogers get some exercise. Not only are they bony, but string as all get out. These are the type of chickens that you boil with an old boot, then throw away the chicken if you want to eat something tender. I raised meat chickens the same way, and while they were tasty, they were tough and turned out to be stew birds, not fryers, even though I butchered them young.

Yeah, I used to have an old Japanese cookbook that had a recipe for ramen broth that used three whole chickens. I was like...what? You want me to waste perfectly good meat for broth????? It wasn't until I raised chickens that I realized that the chickens back when this recipe was written probably didn't have much quality meat on them. Consistently tender meaty chickens are a modern luxury.
posted by melissam at 4:42 PM on February 19, 2012


echolalia67: "As for fancy chicken coops this one takes it to a whole new level of ridiculous awesomeness."

Observation: That author uses the word "vintage" the way I use the word "the". It's in almost every sentence.
posted by caution live frogs at 1:13 PM on February 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


It cracked me up when she referred to a "vintage ladder." I know I've been hanging out in Northern Minnesota long enough that I could hear a snort from Grampa T while he turned away and shook his head at that one. Grampa T has built the best damn chicken coop this side of Hinckley, dammit. His chickens live in luxury. But he's got the plain sense to know that chickens appreciate it more if you keep the predator mink, raccoons, and fox at bay rather than vacuuming the floor every day.

And he's got about ten of those homemade "vintage" ladders rotting next to the shed.
posted by RedEmma at 7:55 AM on February 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


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