The Perfect Chicken Coop?

Do a Google image search for “chicken coop” and a solid majority of the results will look very much like this nearly 100 year old coop featured in The Gardener’s and Poultry Keeper’s Guide and Illustrated Catalog. Why is this basic design still with us?

  • The attached run gives chickens some space to scratch around in while keeping them safe from predators if you can’t make it home by dark.
  • You can hang a feeder in the space under the hen house to keep their feed dry.
  • The run is tall enough to stand in.
  • You can put an access door to the nesting box from the outside so you don’t have to go in the coop to collect eggs.
  • It has a roof over the run to keep your chickens dry.

It’s the basic form I used for our coop with a few refinements–I ran hardware cloth under run to keep out burrowing predators. I also extended the run to keep the chickens from pecking at each other (the more room they have the better).

To paraphrase Nassim Taleb for the second time in a week, if a given design has been around for at least a hundred years, the odds are it will be around for many more years. While this particular arrangement may not work in all situations (mobile runs or “chicken tractors” may be a better option for some), this coop design does have a lot going for it for us urban dwellers.

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  1. Mine looks a little like this, but shaggier. Don’t have a real roof, but did cover the top with leftover wire fencing/bird netting and some twig fencing for shade. I put the coop in the corner of the yard where the compost piles were, so we just fenced them into the run — has done wonders for my compost, which because we’re so dry, and because I didn’t want to pay for hose water to go on the compost, never really broke down. I let them out for a while most days, then they go back in where they have plenty of room to peck, scratch, and just be chickens.

  2. That is almost the same style my neighbor’s retired dad built. After 4 years, she is still happy with. The only big difference is her door is on the side because it was easier to access with the way her yard is set up.

    Mine is sort of similar to it in size, but the area under the coop is a cabinet for storage of supplies. The food and water hangs in the run area instead.

  3. Mine looks just like this too! I love it and so do my chickens. The only change I made was to put the roof on a hinge so I can store shovels and other tools flat up there. I had no idea it was a 100 year old design!

  4. Ours looks a lot like this too! Which is kind of funny since the frame of the coop is an old rabbit hutch left out on the street a block away. Our door is also on the side (an old door that was in the garage when we bought the house). And our roof is…a Target tarp.

  5. I think warm weather coops vs cold weather coops are different. Where I live, the inside of the hen house needs a lot more ventilation because it is hot 95% of the time.

    Also my chickens free range during the day so they don’t need much in the way of a run. They have a small run, but only get penned up when we are out of town for a day or two.

  6. That’s a wonderful design! I think I will have to try building this lovely coop for my 6 pretty brown hens and finally move them out of their converted former goat stall in the shed.

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