The ‘chicken renaissance’, as part of the upswing in interest in both local and organic foods, continues to gather momentum. Chicken coops are popping up even in urban back yards. Not only do people flock to chickens because they make such wonderful pets, there are also the major benefits of fresh organic eggs and ‘free range’ chicken meat to enjoy. The typical chicken coop, however, can be both boring and an eye-sore, and more and more we are seeing people getting creative with their hen houses. “Community Chickens”, a website about all things chicken recently put out a call for their ‘community’ to share their chicken coops, which they claim was awe-inspiring, to see how creative and clever people’s coops are. One interesting coop is “The Choo Choo Coop”, which looks much like a train… for chickens. If you raise chickens and are looking for a new coop idea, perhaps you too could Build A Chicken Coop That Looks Like A Train.
A chicken coop (or hen house) is a building where only the female chickens are kept. There are usually nest boxes inside for egg-laying and sleeping (although if you are raising chickens just for meat, these features become less important). There is usually an indoor area and an outdoor run. The purpose of the coop is to protect chickens from bad weather and predators and to keep them from wandering out of the yard and down the street (we can’t have them all crossing the road!). Although there is controversy over the need for a coop, there are also various local bylaws which cannot be ignored, so it is important to know what’s allowed and expected if you choose to raise backyard chickens. For example, in Oakland, California, it is illegal to own a rooster and there are rules stating that hens must be kept a minimum of twenty feet away from all dwellings, churches and schools.
This “Choo Choo Coop” currently resides in Alamonte Springs, Florida. The proud creator, Steve, used as many reclaimed materials as he could for its construction, including an old two-story wooden swing, but did buy some new wood, wire and hardware, concerned about the safety of his chickens. Steve didn’t start out with the intention of creating a train for his hens, but part way through the build his good friend said “Don’t you think your coop is starting to look like an old steam train engine?” And that is what began his 3-month search for old wheels and an old stove pipe for the smoke stack.
Steve outlines his build step-by-step, and his directions are really easy to follow. In his design, Steve has literally thought of everything and his chickens really do come first… and in style. If you aren’t feeling quite as creative as Steve, many urban ‘chickeneers’ (yes, I made that word up) opt for purchasing a chicken coop and, indeed, pre-made coops are primarily targeted towards urban owners, but they tend to be more expensive than building your own. And let’s face it… you’re probably not going to end up with your own “Choo Choo Coop” unless you build it yourself.
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