Chicken coop

Chicken coop
A chicken coop or hen house
A henhouse atffixed to an 'A-frame' enclosure

A chicken coop (or hen house) is a building where female chickens are kept. Inside there are often nest boxes for egg laying and perches on which the birds can sleep, although coops for meat birds seldom have either of these features.

A coop may have an outdoor run. Both the inside and outdoor floors of a chicken coop are often strewn with a loose material such as straw or wood chips to deal with chicken droppings and to allow for easier cleanup. Most chicken coops have some means of ventilation to help air out any smells.


Housing controversies

There is a long standing controversy over the basic need for a chicken coop. One line of thinking, called the "fresh air school" (which is held by most commercial poultry operations) is that chickens are mostly hardy but can be brought low by confinement, poor air quality and darkness, hence the need for a highly ventilated or open-sided coop with conditions more like the outdoors, even in winter.[1] However, others who keep chickens believe they are prone to illness in outdoor weather and need a controlled-environment coop. This has led to two housing designs for chickens: Fresh-air houses with wide openings and nothing more than wire mesh between chickens and the weather (even in Northern winters), or closed houses with doors, windows and hatches which can shut off most ventilation.[2]

An easily-movable henhouse or chicken tractor (without wheels) for a small number of hens
An Eglu backyard henhouse

Backyard coops

Backyard coops are small and built within a fenced area (sometimes bounded by chicken wire) to let the chickens roam, peck and hunt for insects. If this kind of "yarding" is floorless and can easily be moved (or dragged) from spot to spot it is called a chicken tractor. Many people, moreover in rural areas, keep a small flock of chickens from which they glean eggs and meat mostly for themselves. The number of small chicken coops in urban areas has been growing, which has led to manufactured chicken coops like the Eglu which are designed for more cramped spaces and a tidier look.

Urban settings may have laws which regulate any backyard farming of livestock. Oakland, California, bans roosters, with a rule that hens be kept at least twenty feet away from dwellings, schools and churches.[3][4][5]

Other uses

  • In American English the slang phrase flew the coop means someone who has fled before being sent to jail ("The police had a warrant for his arrest, so he flew the coop!").
  • American truckers call weigh stations chicken coops.
  • In the poem Ballad of John Silver by John Masefield there is a reference to drowning merchants "lamenting the absent chicken coop". In the age of sail, vessels on long voyages would often keep live poultry for meat and eggs within wooden coops stacked on deck. If a ship should sink or capsize these coops would typically come loose and float freely, making for an impromptu emergency floatation device. This maritime usage is archaic and may now be lost.

See also


  1. ^ Woods, Prince T. Fresh-Air Poultry Houses, 1924, Norton Creek Press.
  2. ^ North and Bell, "Commercial Chicken Production Manual", 5th ed. Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1990, p 189.
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^

External links

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Look at other dictionaries:

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  • chicken coop — 1. a coop for chickens. 2. Fox Hunting. a device for making it easier for a horse to jump wire fences, consisting of two wooden panels set on opposite sides of the fence with the tops of the panels joined at an angle so as to cover the wire.… …   Universalium

  • chicken coop — n. henhouse, structure in which chickens are housed, chicken shed …   English contemporary dictionary

  • chicken coop — Trucker slang for Truck weigh station as in Are the chicken coops open this morning? …   Dictionary of automotive terms

  • chicken coop — noun a building, often wooden, in which a small number of poultry are housed Syn: henhouse …   Wiktionary

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  • coop — I n.also: cooperative, co op a consumers ; farmers ; producers ; workers coop II 2) a chicken coop 2) (misc.) (colloq.) to fly the coop ( to escape ) * * * [kuːp] a chicken coop (misc.) (colloq.) to fly the coop ( to escape ) …   Combinatory dictionary

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