File:Chicken coop in winter.jpg

A chicken coop is a building where chickens are kept. Interiors usually have nest boxes for egg laying, and also perches for the birds to sleep on. Coops for meat birds often have neither of these features.

There may also be an attached outdoor run, and both the interior and exterior floor of the chicken coop is often covered with a material, such as straw or wood chips, to contain the chicken waste and to allow easier cleanup of the chicken coop. Most have some kind of ventilation to help air out any odors that may occur.

The purpose of housingEdit

There is a seemingly permanent controversy over the basic purpose of the chicken coop. One school of thought is that chickens are generally hardy creatures, but can be brought low by confinement, poor air quality, and darkness, and need a highly ventilated coop to provide conditions more like the outdoors, even in winter.[1] This is the "fresh-air school." The other school of thought is that chickens cannot tolerate outdoor conditions and are prone to illness from drafts and poor weather, and need a controlled-environment coop. The two schools of thought lead to radically different housing designs, with fresh-air houses featuring large, permanent openings with only wire mesh between the chickens and the weather, even in Northern winters, and the closed houses featuring doors, windows, and hatches that can be shut to eliminate most ventilation. The open-sided house is the dominant form in commercial poultry operation.[2]

File:A-frame chicken coop, Portland OR.JPG

Backyard coopsEdit

Backyard coops are smaller coops often surrounded by a fence (sometimes made with chicken wire) to allow the chickens an area to roam, peck, and hunt insects, while contained. Sometimes this type of "yarding" is mobile, and takes the form of chicken tractors.
File:Betty up to her hijinks.jpg

Many people, especially in rural areas, keep a small flock of chickens to provide themselves with eggs and meat, as sustenance livestock, rather than wholly commercial benefit. A growing number of people keep chickens in urban environments as well. This has led to an increase in chicken coops such as the Eglu, which are designed for urban environments with less space, and less of a utilitarian style.

In urban settings, there is often separate legislation which regulates backyard farming of livestock. For instance, in Oakland, California one can not even own a rooster, and hens must remain twenty feet from dwellings, schools and churches. [3][4][5].

Other usesEdit

  • In American English, the slang phrase "flew the coop" is used to refer to someone who has escaped impending confinement. For example, The police had a warrant for his arrest, so he flew the coop!
  • American truckers refer to weigh stations as chicken coops.
  • In the poem "Ballad of John Silver" by John Masefield, there is a reference to drowning merchants "lamenting the absent chicken coop". This maritime usage is archaic and may now be lost.

See alsoEdit


Further readingEdit


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