The history buff in me has a fascination with how life was lived in times gone by. We’ve constructed three coops since moving here, one large permanent coop, and two portables. We designed and constructed all three ourselves, for cost effectiveness, quality and durability of construction, and because it gave us the ability to customize our coops to our needs.
The most challenging part was coop design, and finding the right inspiration to help us set pen to paper (or mouse to pixel as was often the case). It takes some thought when planning and designing a coop, to ensure you don’t end up with something that looks like this…
Poultry rearing became explosively popular in 19th Century America, and browsing through the old poultry journals of the day, there is a wealth of inspiration and design ideas locked away in their pages, ranging from fanciful poultry palaces, to practical portables, so we thought we’d share a few of our favorites.
Fanciful Poultry Palaces
These hen houses fall squarely in to the ‘money is no object’ category of coop design and construction…
Cupolas, replete with rooster weather-vanes, were clearly popular in the mid-1800s, as shown on the following two coops.
This coop could house a small village!
Well Appointed Abodes
A coop design with divided yard for rearing multiple breeds.
These smaller, but still commodious coops are somewhat more practical for the cottage farmer.
A number of octagonal hen house designs were found amidst the pages of these old journals.
Although these simpler shed-style poultry houses were no doubt simpler to construct.
Even more practical and affordable designs of the day, better suited to smaller flocks, this model was constructed of iron, making it a hefty humble hennery!
This wooden model however would be simpler to construct today.
A-Frame model suited to areas with heavy snowfalls in winter.
This practical and economical garden coop could be simply constructed from reclaimed materials today.
Two small classic design ideas suitable for today’s garden flocks.
For poultry that’s perpetually on the move, some creative portable designs included the Potter Brother’s Vermin Proof Folding Coop and Trap, designed with a rat trap built into the base of the rear wall. Ingenious.
The side walls simply unlatch and fold inwards, and the entire coop can then be folded, and relocated to another part of the farm or garden.
These more simply constructed coops are a little closer in style to some of the popular ark-like coops we still see used today.
My personal favorite though has to be this coop…and with the horse to help move it, there’s no heavy lifting!
Or perhaps this quaint French country design?
A corrugated metal option, with wheels.
This wheeled model is very spacious, but still portable.
Coops on the Cheap
A small wooden shelter with folding doors.
Of course, on the 19th Century small-holding, the farmer would often find materials around the barnyard that could be adapted for poultry housing.
19th Century farms often had spare empty flour barrels lying around, which inspired a number of small coop designs, although closing this model up at night seems tricky…
No doubt these single-door models were much more practical.
As the variety in these designs illustrate, if you’re considering constructing your own coop, providing the structure is predator and vermin proof, you’re really only limited by your imagination. We hope we’ve given you a little inspiration for building your own!