Our Process for Building Coops

Every handcrafted coop we make here at Urban Coop Company matters to us.  

We pride ourselves on using the best materials to make the best coops, but the very best materials in the wrong hands still won’t produce a great coop. From cutting materials to fabrication to packaging, everyone at Urban Coop Company plays a vital role in producing a great chicken coop.  No one role is more important than the next and without quality at each step it would be impossible to build a great product.

Cut Shop

At Urban Coop Company, we largely hand build your coop from scratch.  Each week, a shipment of raw cedar lumber is delivered to our location.  The folks in the cut shop handle every piece of wood – literally. They pick up each and every piece of lumber that is delivered and do their very best to ensure it is free from weird knots, cracks or ugly bits.  Once a piece of wood is deemed “coop worthy” it is then cut to size for use in a coop. 

Fabrication Shop

Once the wood is cut, the next step in the coop building process is the fabrication shop.  Once again, each piece of wood is inspected to make sure it is “coop worthy” and then our talented carpenters get to work fabricating the various components that go into making each coop.

Is it ALL built by hand?  Great question! Some of the parts that go into our coops are fabricated on a CNC machine. CNC stands for computer numerically controlled machine which means that a computer is guiding a cutting machine which makes for some very precise parts. 

But, the CNC machine is operated by a human, a super dedicated human that is making sure the computer is doing what a human has asked it to do! Have you seen our custom carved name boards?  Those are done by a CNC machine.

Quality Control

Next stop is the quality control department.  Basically a fancy name for couple of REALLY detail oriented folks at Urban Coop Company that pick up, measure and inspect every single part that goes into a coop. Luckily, not many errors are found, but handcrafting means humans and that sometimes means something is just a little bit not right.  

Packaging

After QC it is time to get the coop packed up and shipped out. Sounds like a simple task doesn’t it? Not really. Our coops are heavy and must be able to withstand the….uh….rigors of sending it across the country in as few boxes a possible.  It’s like a giant jigsaw puzzle getting a big coop to fit in the boxes and show up on the other end intact and undamaged. Guess what? Our packaging department also looks at every part before it goes into the box which means it goes through yet another quality control check!  Be sure to check out our coop unboxing video to see what we’re talking about.  

Obviously, so much more goes into your Urban Coop Company coop than is detailed above.  Important tasks like purchasing, design and customer service, but building a quality coop is critical to us here at Urban Coop Company. 

Cold Weather Chicken-Keeping Tips

We’ve worked hard to understand the needs of our customers all over the United States, and with the color weather season approaching, we’ve asked our resident chicken expert to weigh in on best practices for cold weather backyard chicken-keeping.


Chickens, with the notable exception of Silkies and Frizzles, are by nature much more cold hardy than they are heat tolerant.

The design concept of Urban Coop Company coops provides for three basic spaces for your chickens. (1) Roost Area (2) Egg Box Area, and (3) Run Space. Each space has its design goals, taking into consideration cold and hot climates.

#1 Roost Areas

The Roost area will be used by your chickens primarily at night to sleep. Exceptions to this will be when your birds feel they need additional shelter because of inclement conditions.  They will seek shelter in the roost. Urban Coop Company coops feature enclosed roosts made from thermally neutral cedar (neither transmits cold or hot) and use updraft passive ventilation so that hens in the roost are protected from stagnant air issues. In hot or cold weather, air circulates from low to high and out the tops of the roosts even though they are enclosed and protected, making sure your chickens stay healthy year-round.

By nature, chickens have a good way to deal with inclement weather. Chickens are very temperature hardy, much better at dealing with extreme cold weather than extreme heat. Poultry experts agree that a dry, wind protected adult chicken allowed to feather up prior to the winter season, can do just fine in freezing temperatures… even sub zero temperatures.

Oddly, overheating of your chickens and frostbite issues have a common root cause…poor ventilation. Frostbite is driven by sub freezing temperatures and overly humid coops that are too enclosed. In the worst coop designs, humid sub freezing temperatures exacerbated by the chickens poop moisture (common with poop trays) and respiration can cause frostbite on exposed combs and leg skin even on a dry chicken. Heaters and light bulbs must be used with great care as they introduce the risk of electrical fires and can actually cause fowl to not “feather-up” the way they otherwise would, and in a power outage, it potentially leaves them without their full natural feathering to keep them warm.

#2 Egg Box Areas

For a different reason, egg box areas are enclosed too. Darkness. Chickens will naturally want to lay their eggs in the darkest most cozy areas of the coops. Our egg boxes, for the same reasons as our roost, afford your chickens refuge from poor weather conditions while they are laying yet keep critical fresh air circulating around them.

#3 Runs

Runs are just that, a run area for your chickens, and a place for them to get outside and forage around. Our run areas have roof areas over them to provide some shade and some protection from normal rain and snow accumulation. At the same time, our runs allow sunlight to shine in too. Sunlight drys up your coop areas, the ultraviolet light disinfects your coop and helps control odors, and in fact as with most animals, chickens need sunlight. So they are necessarily more open than roosts and egg box areas. In extreme stormy conditions (wind driven snow and rain), your chickens even though it is daytime, will seek shelter in their roosts. They’re now out of the storm, but confined to a smaller space. So that the run areas can have both the openness that’s appropriate the vast majority of the time, but to extend use of the run in seriously stormy weather, we’ve introduced optional  Storm Panels™ that will add temporary additional inclement weather protection to run areas. You don’t have to have them, but it’s a smart choice as they offer more sheltered space to your flock when it’s stormy outside.

Remember:

  1. For many of us, chickens have become pets. Leaving Fido out in inclement weather is just not usually an option. With that said, pets or not, chickens are still livestock.  An adult chicken given good choices for different shelter areas (roost, egg box, run) can figure out what areas they need to be in to deal with the weather. Depending on your world view, they’ve been doing it for somewhere between 10,000 and 10 bizillion years. We’ve only had electricity for a little more than 100 years and chickens have certainly done well for much longer than that all over the world.
  2. The fact is that cold isn’t as big a problem for chickens as heat. They can withstand very cold temperatures (even subzero) as long as they are fully feathered adults.  Generally a chicken is fully feathered out by the age of 12 weeks, but does sometimes depend on the breed.  If your chicken has full wing feathers and feathers over it’s neck and middle, it’s safe to consider them fully feathered.  If you have a Round-Top Backyard Chicken Coop™ make sure to place your roost door away from the prevailing or coldest North winds just to give them a bit of extra protection, or you could get a Snow / Storm Panel kit which includes a cover for that door. Lower your roost wings on your Mobile Coop and the roost area becomes a great place to get out of the weather. Likewise, the Walk-In Coop has a giant enclosed roost area where your chickens can seek refuge if they think they need it.
  3. The problem with cold and chickens actually comes from moist cold air.  Moist cold air causes respiratory problems and can cause frost-bitten combs and wattles in very cold temperatures.  The roost-over run design of the Round-Top Backyard Chicken Coops™ takes this into account and provides ventilation through the roost floor and allows the cold moist air to dissipate out the top round vents.  The roost bars are positioned to allow the chickens to roost near the top where the air is warmest, but out of direct wind.
  4. Keep water from freezing by using some sort of a submersible heater or heated chicken waterer.  If you have the Easy Fill Waterer, we have designed it for a particular heater and all that is needed is the slotted cap.
  5. Extra shavings in a sloppy coop run bottom can absorb water and help keep your girls feet dry. Do not use straw or hay as it holds moisture and turns into a mildewy matted mess.
  6. On really cold sub-zero days, you can use a bit of Vaseline to coat combs , waddles and exposed leg skin to protect from frostbite.
  7. Cold birds will huddle up together to keep warm and in the heat, the opposite is true.
  8. Be careful if you decide to use a light-bulb or a heater.  The electricity presents an electrocution and fire hazard and you may in fact be doing harm. IF you provide too much supplemental heat, a bird’s natural reaction is to not feather up as much. IF you were to lose electricity in a cold spell, your birds would be without some part of their best natural defense against cold…their feathers.
  9. Keep unfrozen fresh water available to your hens. Hydrated birds deal with cold better.

Dry, fully feathered chickens that can get out of the wind are very, very cold hardy.  They will be fine in freezing temperatures (even sub zero temperatures) so long as they have access to fresh water and stay dry.  Some particulars may vary breed-to-breed, for instance Silkies and frizzle-feathered chickens are less cold hardy.  The above points will certainly give you a safe place to work from.

Contact us if you have winter chicken keeping questions.  While we live in Central Texas and only have 30 or so freezing days each year, we have thousands of customers in places like Maine, Connecticut,  Massachusetts, Minnesota, Colorado and many other very cold places.  We literally get NO reports of cold weather related chicken deaths with our coops. We’re happy to share with you what we know.

How to Keep Chickens Cool in the Summer Heat

At Urban Coop Company, we’re here to be your guide on all urban chicken-keeping matters.

For summer, we wanted to give you our TOP 3 useful tips on keeping your chickens cool, comfortable and healthy during hot months. As we’re located in Central Texas, summer days tend to be well over 100 degrees so we have a ton of experience in this area, and have seen first-hand what works best in keeping your chickens from overheating. Read through our tips below or scroll to the bottom to watch the full Urban Coop Scoop episode!

TIP #1: Make sure your chickens have a consistent amount of cool, fresh water
There are a ton of watering systems and methods for chicken coops, but we definitely have our favorite… In order to keep water fresh and “poop-free”, we designed an integrated, easy-fill waterer that can be purchased with each of our coops. These keep chickens from being able to dirty the water, ensuring it stays fresh longer.

If you don’t have a watering system that protects the water from dirt and droppings, make sure to check the water supply a couple times each day to ensure there is enough clean water for your flock.

TIP #2: Provide chickens with loose top soil
Chickens really enjoy what we call “dust bathing” in order to keep themselves cool in the heat. This is where your chickens will lay around in loose, dirt top soil. If your chickens do not already have some, it’d be worth it to provide them with some. Rolling around in it may not only help cool them off, it could also help them eliminate any mites that may be in their feathers.

Chickens dust bathing

TIP #3: Create frozen ice treats for your chickens. 

For the summer, we like offering our chickens strawberries and blueberries, as well as a bit of fresh mint (for an extra cooling effect.) However, any fresh fruit will work. Once you’ve chosen the fruit, cut your ingredients into small pieces that will fit in ice trays. Next, fill the trays with clean water and place in the freezer. Once your trays have frozen solid, dump the ice treats into a bowl with water outside for your chickens to enjoy.

This is a nice treat that will keep your flock hydrated and give them something to do.

If you have chicken-keeping questions, please email us and we will answer them, as well as possibly feature your question on one of our upcoming blogs!

Subscribe to our Urban Coop Scoop Newsletter to receive more chicken-keeping tips, tricks and resources for all seasons. Lastly, if you’d like to speak with our resident chicken expert about any of our products, don’t hesitate to give us a call!

We’ve made chicken-keeping convenient with easy-fill waterers and feeders

We believe urban chicken keeping is good for the soul. Chickens ground people to the natural world in unexplained ways; a welcome, enjoyable thing in this hectic, high-tech world. To make it as enjoyable as possible, we knew we needed to do all we could to make it hassle-free and stress-free for our customers.

 

Chicken keeping is good for the soul
When designing our Round-Top Coops™, a huge focus was to incorporate a quick and easy way for our customers to refill chickens’ food and water AND to make sure that the food/water supply was safe from chicken droppings. We did this by designing a “no poop”, easy-fill system that can be added to any of our coops. Here’s why this system works and is hands-down better than others out there:

 

Fill Urban Coop Company's Easy-Fill Feeder from outside the coop
1. Our feeders/waterers allow you to refill food and water from outside the coop, which is convenient when you’re on the go or do not want to interrupt the goings-on inside your coop…

 

Urban Coop Company's Easy-Fill Waterer
2. Each system protects food and water from chicken droppings, which means your chickens will have a longer-lasting fresh supply, and you’ll have less of a food/water mess to clean…

 

Urban Coop Company Easy-Fill Feeder
3. Supply will last a long weekend on any of our coops, allowing you to get away for a few days without worry…

 

Poultry nipples
4. Since the feeders/waterers are secured to the coop, there is more run space for your flock…

 

Safe from harsh weather
5. Lastly, both are highly weather resistant… so rain, wind, snow or hot sun, your flock’s food and water is kept safe and fresh.

 

If you’re in a place with harsh winter weather, call us to discuss how you can freeze-proof your Easy-Fill Waterer… we’ll help you out!

10 reasons Urban Coop Company™ Coops are worth more…

Bargain brand Chinese coops are not a bargain for long. Cheap materials and carpentry won’t hold up. Urban Coop Company™ coops are made to be durable, which means they’ll last. But it also means they’re predator safe strongholds for chickens to live in. And they make keeping chickens less of a hassle with their unique feature sets. Here are 10 things you should know about Round-Top Coops™ that make them better.

1. Western Red Cedar – Cedar wood costs more because it will last outdoors many, many years. It’s not chemically treated yet naturally resists rot and bugs. We use strong thick full dimension cuts of cedar. And, its native to North America. It’s the premium outdoor rated lumber. Flimsy chinese coops use wood that just can’t stand-up to day-after-day outdoor exposure. And make no mistake, there’s no such thing as “Chinese Cedar”. It’s fir… and a low grade fir. Treating or painting it can help, but Western Red Cedar, just the way nature made it, will last much longer and is much tougher.

2. Exterior Grade HD Galvanized Hardware – Heavy gauge exterior grade hardware is much more predator proof than the hasps, latches and hinges found on cheap coops. Your coop is only as safe as the hardware that keeps doors and access points closed.

3. Welded Galvanized Livestock Wire – Cheaper coops use cheaper wire. Our livestock grade wire is at least 4X stronger than hardware cloth found on bargain brand chicken coops. The vast majority of coops use “hardware cloth” but try to trick you by calling it some other name. It’s just not as strong.

4. Old School Carpentry Techniques – No one uses more robotics in making your coop than we do. They add repeatability and accuracy to cutting parts for your coop that are industry leading. But we use these machines in conjunction with hand assembling your new coop using beautiful, strong, outdoor-proof methods that will hold up over time… and we guarantee it. Cheaper coops take shortcuts in the joinery that just can’t hold up to the pressure of large predators that go after chickens, like foxes, coyotes, coons and the most popular predator of all… domestic dogs.

5. Galvalume™ 5V Crimp Roof – Our signature style rounded roof is both functional and beautiful. Patented Galvalume™ won’t rust, reflects radiant heat and stays cooler… even in direct sunlight. We use the thicker grade metal for strength and rigidity. Cheap coops most often sheets of composite roof material that provide no structural strength and wear down quickly.

6. Beautiful & Practical Designs – We get it that your coop has to look cute. But you’ve locked up your chickens and now you’ve got to take care of them too. We use our coops, every day. We lean towards highly ventilated, roomy, minimal opening designs with weatherproof roosts and open sunny runs. Sunlight is a disinfectant and stimulates egg production too. Our coops have features that are proven over time to take less… of your time.

7. Multi-Climate Versatility- Fact is that most places people keep chickens, sub-zero and 100+ days are only a few months of the year. Chickens need a versatile habitat that can provide shelter over a wide variety of conditions. Strongly attached Storm Panels protect in sub-zero freezing winds and snow yet are translucent and let sun in. Highly ventilated roost and run areas allow chickens to stay cool on the hottest of days during summer months.

8. Customer Support- Buy a chicken coop from an online big-box store and you’re pretty much on your own. Buy your coop from Urban Coop Company and gain access to national caliber chicken keeping experts who are excited to answer your questions and help you succeed.

9. Optional Integrated Waterers – Convenient overhead no poop waterers allow for outside fill and can be freeze-protected. We even offer a unique patent pending Freeze Guard™ freeze resistant poultry nipple. All of our waterers are made from food grade pipe, hold multiple days of water and take up no run space. They save time and make sure that your hens have access to a clean plentiful supply of fresh water.

10. Optional Integrated Feeders – Our convenient, vertical no poop design allows for ez-fill of either pellet or crumble feed. Weather resistant food grade plastic tubes are CNC cut to present the feed in a protected area inside the tube. EZ-Fill feeders hold multiple days of feed and take up minimal run space. They save time and make sure that your hens have access to a clean plentiful supply of fresh feed.

And, we are year-after-year improving and tweaking our designs based on the feedback of the customers who house literally 10’s of thousands of chickens in our coops in all 50 states. Nobody is more dedicated to building superior coops and providing unmatched customer service than Urban Coop Company.

Simple Ways to House Chicks While Your Coop Is Being Built

Urban Chicken Keeping is growing and our coops are very popular, for good reason! Your coop is lovingly hand built from premium materials and will look great for years to come. During some parts of the year we get up to six weeks back-ordered. As a company policy we take orders and deliver weekly batches of coops in the order in which they’re purchased. We’re so grateful for your patience while we build your new coop. Here are some ideas on how to house those stinky chicks while they’re growing up. Here are two popular temporary chick pens other than your spare bathtub 🙂 which is by far the MOST popular…

Available at PetsMart or Amazon. Comes in bigger sizes too. Line the bottom with pine shavings that can be cleaned out periodically or also can be used with straw. We don’t recommend newspaper. Keep in a heated outbuilding or your garage until it is warm enough.

You might still have one in the attic or a friend that has an old one. Can usually be found for less than $20 at 2nd Hand Stores like Salvation Army. Line the bottom with pine shavings that can be cleaned out periodically or also can be used with straw. We don’t recommend newspaper. Keep in a heated outbuilding or your garage until it is warm enough.

Why We Build Your Coop With Cedar

Why we use Cedar in your Round-Top Chicken Coop™

Cedar Chicken Coop WoodIt’s certainly not the cheapest wood coop builders could use, in fact, its one of the most expensive. But just like a fine chef, its impossible for a coop builder to end up with a great product if the ingredients aren’t the best.

Cedar (more accurately what we use is called appearance grade rough cut Western Red cedar) is one of three woods commonly found in North America that without chemical treatments are suitable for exterior use. The other two are redwood and cypress. Here are some of the reasons cedar is desirable for chicken coops…

• Cedar is lightweight and dimensionally stable. It lies flat and stays pretty much straight, which means it resists the natural tendency to crack and bow as you might find in many other wood species if used outdoors. Its special cell structure fights moisture rot by allowing it to dry out faster than almost any other wood, time and time again.

• Western Red cedar is incredibly thermally efficient, meaning even on hot days it is cool to the touch and does not transmit heat to areas inside the roost, or for that matter, cold either. Its warmer in winter and cooler in summer.

• Cedar is naturally bacterial and fungal resistant. Cedar is 80% the strength of oak which one of the strongest hardwoods. These facts coupled with its rot resistance make it the most desirable wood to build outdoor structures from… like coops!

• Western Red cedar fibers contain oils that act as natural preservatives to help the wood resist rot and decay making it excellent even in humid climates. Even without special treatment, cedar will easily last outdoors 10-15 years and in some circumstances, much longer.

• Naturally occurring organic compounds called (thujaplicins) give off that distinct cedar aroma that is pleasant to humans but a deterrent to insects, moths and other wood pests. These oils are locked into the boards and are what makes the wood so resistant to bugs and also rot. Don’t confuse western red cedar lumber with eastern white cedar (aromatic cedar) shavings. Western Red Cedar Lumber is absolutely, 100%, NOT DANGEROUS TO CHICKS or FULL GROWN HENS.

And the advantages go on…

Unlike Chinese fir, plastic or painted pine coops, Western Red cedar will not bow or sag over time and will stay looking great. Your cedar chicken coop will hold its handsome appearance year after year with very little maintenance. Cedar products are an all around safer, healthier, natural material for coops and better than almost any other wood in the world. CEDAR PRODUCTS ARE A GREAT NATURAL ALTERNATIVE TO CHEMICALLY TREATED WOODS. The only other woods that are even close to cedar in its suitability for use as a chicken coop, are redwood and cypress. However, since cedar is more commercially available it is the most cost effective of the three.

Want to paint it? Great… cedar holds paint better than almost any wood you can find and better than any other outdoor rated wood. Just pick any Big Box available semitransparent, transparent, or solid wood stain of any color you like, and it will last 8-10 years or more before you have to even think about repainting it. Buy the lowest VOC rated stain you can find.  We do not recommend products like Thompson’s Water Seal around chickens.

Don’t want to paint it? Great… no domestic wood outperforms cedar outdoors, even outdoor ground contact conditions. Left unsealed and unpainted, cedar will patina to that natural grey/silver look that people are familiar with over time and last up to 10-15 years or more depending on your locale.

Want to seal it? Great… If you like the fresh Golden look of unweathered cedar, put a transparent non-colored wood stain on and slop it into the wood. Repeat every 6-8 years or when you see it fading.  Wash up your coop before resealing, and it will come very, very close to looking brand new again, like the day it arrived.