We built our chicken coop ourself with a number of important features we wanted to keep in mind. The most important features for us were:
- A shaded area for the chickens
- Easy access to the eggs
- Security against predators (we have raccoons that live in the sewers, hawks, and the occasional wandering skunk)
I was excited to see Williams Sonoma move into the local food movement and self sufficiency, but was surprised to see them offering chicken coops. The designs are attractive, but some of them have impractical features in my opinion. However, given their price points, you have to assume they are marketing to the wealthy suburban local food aficionado.
The Ballard Chicken Coop is actually a pretty attractive chicken tractor-like structure for a small yard. I showed this to my husband and he also really liked the shape and thinks we could build one out of the materials we have in our garage. For us, this would not be a home-base type of chicken coop, as you would need to ensure that predators could not dig under and get to the chickens. We live along a busy street and have our vegetable garden in the front yard because it is the south-facing yard. We have thought about getting our chickens to do some of the seasonal garden clean up when we are between planting and this chicken tractor could be an attractive solution.
What I like: Movable, shaded areas, lightweight
What I dislike: Not completely safe unless you dig in wire(digging predators), very small (we give our three chickens a pretty large run so that we can go on short vacations, and we also give them part of our backyard), not completely enclosed roosting area (when the weather gets bad, is there enough protection to keep the chickens warm?)
The Alexandria Chicken Coop is Williams and Sonoma’s most expensive chicken coop. It is a very attractive coup, touted to be movable (given the giant wheels on it). Chickens typically need 4 square feet per bird inside the chicken coop, which supposes longer periods of cold, windy, or nasty weather. If the Coop interior is 44″x52″, the 4 sq. ft. per bird would allow you 4 chickens with this coop. If you use the more conservative 2-3 sq. ft. per chicken, then you can possibly get to 6 laying hens. If you provide them with adequate run space or free range time, then the smaller number is fine.
What I like: The shaded under space is great for putting in chicken feeders and protecting them from the rain. The color and structure materials are great. Linoleum floor could make it easy to clean. Exterior access to nesting box, storm flap for windows, giant wheels to move coop.
What I dislike: I can’t stand cedar-shake roofs. That is a high maintenance choice of roofing. Size is slightly small for 6 hens. The optional chicken run is short. When you look at how tiny the door is, it really isn’t practical for a permanent structure. You’d want to be able to enter the run so that you could put water and food beneath the coop.