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Backyard Chickens 101: Cool Chicken Coops


I’ve got some seriously cool chicken coops to show you today, courtesy of Seattle Tilth, which hosts an annual City Chickens Coop Tour every July. This self-guided tour takes you to different neighborhoods around Seattle, where you can check out a bunch of coops, meet the chickens that live in them, and talk to the chicken keepers. This year’s tour is on July 11, so mark your calendars!

Sadly, our coop is not worthy of being on the tour. We bought it at a local feed store and have been really disappointed with its quality and how difficult it is to access for cleaning. We are considering building a new coop for our girls this fall that has the following qualities:

* A bigger run. I want a covered run that has at least 8 to 10 square feet per bird

* Doors that are raised above the ground. This makes them easier to close because they don’t get clogged with bedding that the chickens kick around.

* Easy access for cleaning. Right now I have to lean into our coop, which makes it difficult to scoop out the bedding, and getting in that close of contact with the chicken poo is kind of gross.

* Built with recycled, durable materials. Most of my favorite coops incorporate recycled windows, doors, and wood. They end up having so much character, and are easier on the environment since they minimize the use of new materials. I like the look of corrugated metals roofs, but I also love, love the green roof on the coop pictured up top. It is the coolest!!


This coop is positively palatial. I think my girls would run away from home if I showed them the photo. I like its clean, modern design and that it has both enclosed and unenclosed runs and is tall enough to stand up in.


This portable coop makes great use of recycled materials and I love the classic barn red color and shape. I think that the entire front (where the doors are) hinges open, making the inside a snap to clean up.


Our next coop will definitely feature a handy exterior nest box like this one. These nest boxes make it super easy to access the eggs, and the hens seem to prefer them, too.

If building a coop is not your forte, high quality, pre-built coops are available, but they are pricey. I am particularly fond of Wine Country Coops and Henspa. You could also hire someone to build the coop. In Seattle, Jennifer Carlson teaches a coop design class at Seattle Tilth and also offers private city chickens consultations, and Seattle Urban Farm Company also builds custom coops.

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39 Responses to “Backyard Chickens 101: Cool Chicken Coops”

  1. 1
    Pam Says:

    Thanks so much for this series!!! I sooooo want to have chickens, but the Board of Health in Arlington doesn’t allow it. So, I’m trying to change the law! I hope it works – I just get more and more excited about the thought of having my own chickies. Cool pictures!

  2. 2
    Melanthia Says:

    Wow, I think that second coop is nicer than my own home. Make room girls, I’m movin’ in!

  3. 3
    jade Says:

    Oooooh . . . I really like the living roof on the first coop. Now, is it just me, or did they just tack up a few plastic flats and fill them with soil & plants? Love it.

    OK, I can’t hold my tongue any longer (I listen to the radio program on KUOW), I think you should check out the Backyard Chicken forum (BYC). There is a great old post about someone’s “coop de ville” that my husband is currently using as a template to build our first chicken coop — right now we have ducks (and absolutely adore the ducks).

  4. 4
    Megan Says:

    I know I’m being repetitive but I love the green roof! Just wanted to mention that my husband and I are almost finished building our first coop and we used 95% recycled material from the RE-store in Bellingham (we had to buy hardware cloth and a few 2X6s new). Our cost was less than $200 altogether and the house is about 15 sq ft with around 45 sq ft of run. Its not worthy of this site but we’re copying the trusses of our craftsmen home, so its pretty cute. Unfortunately we don’t have a sunny location in our yard, do you think that will be a problem for the chickens health? There’s only three of them and I do plan on letting them run free in the afternoons when I’m home.

  5. 5
    Willi Says:

    Megan–Your thrifty coop building is an inspiration. I can’t wait to build our girls a new coop, but I definitely want to keep costs down and the amount of recycled materials up. The Re-Store is such a great place to get supplies. I will definitely have to stop by the Seattle store when we’re ready to start building.

    Jade–Wow. The coop in the link you included is so, so, so nice! I showed my husband! I really like the idea of the metal trays under the roosts. Kind of like a litter box for chickens! It’s so cool you have ducks. Jon really wants them. What kind do you have? We’re interested in the Indian runner ducks.

  6. 6
    jade Says:

    Another great place to find building materials is at Habitat for Humanity re-sale stores. In particular, we have found rolls of chicken wire, hardware cloth, and field fencing for super cheap.

    Ducks are way too much fun! We have Rouens, which I got because I like the mallard coloration, but we also have two fawn & white Runner ducks — couldn’t resist not getting a few. If you get runner ducks, I would just recommend getting the chocolate or black ones, not the fawn & white ones . . . mine are really high-strung! I have read that animals that lack pigment genes can be flighty and high-strung, which I think is the case with my runners. The rouens are definitely more chill. :)

    Also, if you decide you want ducks, I hope you have cool neighbors, because the females are rather loud when they want to free-range first thing in the morning! When I lived in city limits, my neighbors were very forgiving and actually told me they liked having the ducks around.

    Finally, I’m sure you’ve heard, ducks are messy. We clean their pen twice a day (days when they can’t free-range all day). If you have the time for them, you will reap the benefits of plenty of compost material!

    Good luck with your decision!

  7. 7
    Willi Says:

    Jade–Thanks for all the info on the ducks. They sound like work, but the fun kind of work! I think they may be in my future, but maybe not the near future!

  8. 8
    Laurie Says:

    I love the green roof, too!! We just got our first chickens a few weeks ago, 2 buff orpingtons and 2 black australorps. My husband built a chicken tractor for them and they are so much fun to watch!! Our tractor is entirely built of scrap wood from our backyard -we only bought the hardware wire, hinges and door locks. Oh, and the paint. They have been fun for our kids as well.

  9. 9
    Old Tractors for Sale Says:

    I found your blog on google and read a few of your other posts. I just added you to my reader.

  10. 10
    Chicken Housing Says:

    This is a wounderfull post. Keep it up…

  11. 11
    maureen Says:

    omg YOU were made to write! Thx for the laughs with descriptions and antics along side valuable info … chicky and brilliant!

  12. 12
    backyard chicken coop Says:

    Nice detailed post, i would like to add that the coop that is built should always be larger than the actual size required. It helps the chickens to move freely within the coop and thus have some sort of exercise. I would also like to add that you must plan for the number of birds you want to keep, as well as possible expansion. We added too many to our flock and ended up with zero eggs and sick chickens. The correct amount of yard and coop space is vital for healthy animals! I leave at least 2 square foot of coop space per bird, and 3-4 square feet of yard now!
    .-= backyard chicken coop´s last blog ..Comment by =-.

  13. 13
    Leigh Says:

    Wow! Those coops are awesome. I’ll add a link to this site from – hopefully my visitors will get some inspiration!
    .-= Leigh´s last blog ..Video: 4 Common Errors When Building a Chicken Coop =-.

  14. 14
    Jamie Says:

    I’m another fan of the green roof! I’m just setting up my coop for my first chickens! We moved into a house that already had a dog kennel structure built off the side of the garage so it hasn’t been too hard to enclose it and make it suitable for the chickens. Now I’m just working on making a secure outdoor run for them before they get old enough to go outside.

    I’m taking the raising baby chicks class at Seattle Tilth on Saturday where I’ll be getting the babies… 2 Buff Orpingtons and 2 Barred Rocks. I’m so excited!

  15. 15
    Willi Says:

    Jamie! How exciting! I think you’ll love the Tilth class. I took one before we got our girls and found it to be super informative!

  16. 16
    Pin Henwot Says:

    The pictures are very nice; have some really cool chicken coops in them! Awesome for inspiration!
    .-= Pin Henwot´s last blog ..Plans For Building Chicken Coops – Making a DIY Hen Coop =-.

  17. 17
    M A Says:

    I love that palatial one w/the three white windows. It’s the same style as my house! I want it!
    .-= M A´s last blog ..Gardening 365 – Day 119 =-.

  18. 18
    Esther Says:

    mann im looking for one under 100 wanna deal?

  19. 19
    Habitat Design » Photo collection: Modern chicken coops Says:

    [...] Interested in making your own backyard chicken coop? Read this great article at [...]

  20. 20
    Coops « All Kinds of Goodies Says:

    [...] ohhh, and this one: [...]

  21. 21
    Greencliff Landscape Co. Says:

    Hi, I’m the guy that designed and built the palatial coop/garden shed in Seattle. The red and gray one with the white windows.

    In addition to being on the Seattle Tilth City Chickens Tour for two years, it was also featured in a segment on the NBC Today Show and is included in a book by Judy Pangman titled ‘Chicken Coops: 45 Building Plans for Housing Your Flock’.

    Thanks for your nice comments! It was fun to build. Cheers, Crane

  22. 22
    Willi Says:

    That is a great coop, Crane! I will have to check out the book :)

  23. 23
    Carey’s Girls | Laguna Dirt Says:

    [...] has more great chicken raising ideas–click HERE to check them out. Also, here are other coop designs.  Recommend on Facebook Share on google plus Pin it on pinterest Tweet about it Subscribe to [...]

  24. 24
    Backyard Chickens 101: Cool Chicken Coops | DigginFood | Rictandag's Blog Says:

    [...] Via Like this:LikeBe the first to like this post. [...]

  25. 25
    alechia Says:

    I like the 2nd chicken coop,yes it’s nicer then my rent house I’m renting from my great-grandma. Any chicken would be very happy to live in any one of these coop. I’d be happy to live in any one of these coop if I was a chicken myself. My bf and I only have doggies right now ,but looking to have a flock of chicken someday. The 2nd coop make it easy to move, clean and small in size. That what I like about it. we don’t have a big yard so it perfect for my yard. I wonder how many chicken the 2nd coop( little red coop) hold?

  26. 26
    Urban Farming: Creative Chicken Coop Design | BuildDirect Green Blog Says:

    [...] via nan on [...]

  27. 27
    Yohannes Says:

    The classic barn red color is my favorite too. It just seems to brighten up the garden, even during winter season.
    Yohannes´s last [type] ..Building A Chicken Coop Review

  28. 28
    Crane Stavig Says:

    I recently completed another chicken coop for a Seattle area woman – very modern, clean lines. Let me know what you think!

  29. 29
    karen Says:

    I love the green roof coop . I would like to know how to know how I could go about getting some how to build it plans . I have a 9 year old boy and he / we bought him some chickens . I love this and would like to build it with him. can you help me

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