the poultry project

Building Tracy’s Coop

May 23rd, 2011

I take a mostly passive role in the coop building. I sit on the sidelines and watch as the build team turns papyrus sheets, wire mesh and tons of wood poles into a gorgeous, sturdy chicken house. On Wednesday, they built Tracy’s coop with the help of Ambrose Milton. TASO Tororo counselor, Debra, recommended Milton for the job. Milton is in Senior VI and TASO helps pay his school fees. A year ago, Milton’s mother left an abusive relationship, disappearing into the night, and nobody knows where she is or what happened to her. Milton’s father was never around and he has no siblings. He stays at the hostel attached to his school free of charge because they understand his unique situation and are willing to help. Milton will work with the build team to construct the other 9 coops in Tororo. This opportunity will help Milton gain new skills and earn income to help pay for his Senior exams. Milton plans to go to university and he is hopeful that he will see his mother again.

Emily Axtman (Emily A.), David, Eric, Joe and Milton built Tracy’s coop in 4 hours, working nonstop. Kevin put down the camera several times to help build. Emily and I cut the binding wire (it’s become our coop task). Tracy’s home is near a freight train and an amazing granite rock formation that sits in the center of Tororo. As with most coop builds, the neighborhood children flock to the scene to check out the muzungus and watch the build. Initially, we occupied the children with some colored pencils and legal pad paper. I drew a silly picture of a tree, bird and two monkeys. With only 12 pencils and over 24 children, sharing had to happen. One of the boys suggested that 2 people share one pencil. The arrangement worked well and the children began drawing under the nearby mango tree. One by one they ran home to gather their own pencils and pens, so within minutes they each had something to draw with.  We walked over to see what they were drawing and they all were drawing a rendering of the picture I drew. It was amazing.

But the drawing activity soon lost its luster and they were back at the build site observing the process, eager to get involved. Emily A. took note of their curiosity and patiently instructed them in binding the wire mesh to the wooden frame with wire. The children listened and watched intently and began twisting the binding wire tightly and cutting the ends with the pliers.They were so proud about their contribution to the coop. I’m so glad Emily A. took the opportunity to engage them in the process and teach them a few building tricks. Satisfied with their building foray, the children returned to the drawing after Emily A. sharpened their pencils with her pocket knife.

It’s really amazing to see the group work together, engaging the community and family in the building process. Tracy went to fetch sand for the cement mixture and Sharon borrowed a hoe from the neighbor to mix the cement. Joe, Milton, David and Eric used pangas to dig the holes for securing the coop in the ground. Dirt was added to some of the holes to make the coop level. David worked on the bird ramp while Joe and Milton nailed wooden poles to the tin roof. Kevin and Eric put the papyrus sheets on the coop panels. Eventually, the coop came together and the team showed Tracy how to use it, clean it and repair it. Another coop built, over 25 to go. Fortunately, after Joe and Emily A. leave, the team they’ve trained-David, Eric, John, and Milton- will build the remaining coops together and earn money while they do it. As Emily A.’s t-shirt says, “Design. Build. Transform.”

[Photos 2,7,8,11,12 by Kevin Kopanski.]

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Coop of the Day: Urban Poultry Service

February 24th, 2011

A team from Chicago’s ARCHEWORKS, an alternative design school that replaces traditional curriculum with real life problem solving by challenging students “to work in multidisciplinary teams with nonprofit partners to create design solutions for social and environmental concerns.”  Not only did they design a chicken coop, they created a model for community engagement, economic development and strengthening local food systems.

The Team:

Michelle Ruiz
Lindsay Banks
Luis Garcia
Philip Syvertsen
Eric Heineman
Jared Lauridsen
Christopher Korycki
Meredith Vlahakis

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Coop of the Day: Chicken Sandwich

February 2nd, 2011

Designed by Ashley Kennedy of Vermont:

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Coop of the Day: Elementi 6 + 9 Accessori

January 11th, 2011

Alessandra Bolis, an architecture student from Italy, designed this colorful, flatpak coop.

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Coop of the Day: Cart Coop

January 7th, 2011

Shopping cart meets urban agriculture in this ingenious chicken coop design by New Orleans design firm, Crooked Architecture.  Zach Lamb and Carey Clouse worked together to find a new use for the shopping cart – a portable, pretty home for a small (1 0r 2) flock of backyard hens.  A favorite of the design competition jury, the Cart Coop won over the visitors at the exhibition and took home the People’s Choice Award for favorite chicken coop design.

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Coop of the Day returns after holiday break!: Bamboo Coop

January 6th, 2011

Tri Dang, a student Orange Coast College, designed this thatched coop after researching traditional Ugandan methods of shelter design and construction.  This egg shaped coop was a favorite of the judges for its simplicity and beauty.

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Coop of the Day: Modular System

December 16th, 2010

Camilo Cerro of Brooklyn, NY designed this modular coop.  Here’s what he had to say about it:

The idea behind this design is to create a chicken coop that is modular, made of recycled materials and that solves the programmatic issues in a better way than the coops presently on the market. By creating a modular system, we allow for the design to expand in an unlimited manner. This capacity gives the owner alternatives in terms of the location and evolution of the coop. In terms of materials, I propose to recycle wood into MDF (Medium Density Fibreboard) or wood-chip boards as the primary material for the coop, this then would be painted to protect if from the elements. And finally the design is set for adaptability. Each module has all the components to be set as a corner condition, central condition, to have an access ramp to the upper level or to stand alone. When not in use by a module, the ramp becomes the circulation floor for the upper floor. Sliding doors at each side of the module allow for circulation from module to module or to close off the corner modules. Two access doors allow for independent access to the nest and feeder (for both water and feed). And the mesh panels on the lower level are removable to allow for some to betaken out when the module is placed in a central portion of the coop. The lower level stands on the ground allowing the chickens to have access to grass and dirt while kept enclosed. Because of its simplicity the module is compact, light, easy to carry and clean.

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Coop of the Day: Nelson Chicken Coop

December 8th, 2010

Designed by architect Michael Nelson of Nelson Design Group, this henhouse is already built and in use in his suburban backyard.   Nelson lives in Birmingham, AL and has 5 chickens.

Nelson’s description of the design:

The Nelson Chicken Coop is a suburban backyard henhouse comprised of two levels, a lower ground-level run and a raised, upper area for feeding, nesting, & perching. Each level is approximately four (4) feet wide by six (6) feet long in plan, providing a total of forty-eight (48) square feet of area. The upper level is covered, enclosed, and raised to provide protection for the hens. Ventilation is provided by an operable front window running the length of the coop, hardware cloth floor, an enclosed lower-level run, and venting at the ridge on the roof. There are two (2) nesting boxes and four (4) linear feet of perch in the upper level. Access to the coop includes an egg door & feed/water door on the upper level and two (2) clean-out doors on the lower level. All doors are secured using surface-mounted, manual bolt latches. Building materials used include 2x wood framing, ¾” plywood, and galvanized metal roofing. Galvanized hardware cloth (1/4”) is used to enclose the run in the lower level, to floor 2/3 of the upper level, and to secure the upper level ventilation window when open. The center section of the upper level has no floor to allow vertical access between the levels. The siding on each end of the coop is fabricated from wood shims and stained for protection from the elements. An electric utility light is added to the interior of the coop as needed to bolster the lighting during the winter season.


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Coop of the Day: Poulle-Belle

December 6th, 2010

When we were in the early stages of planning the Chicken Coop Design Competition, we talked about wanting IKEA to come up with a simple, easily assembled, flat-pak coop product.  Well, this group of architects from Paris decided to repurpose an IKEA kitchen cabinet as a chicken coop.  They even took time to send a letter to IKEA pitching their design.  This coop was a favorite of the jury for its innovation and creativity.  Bravo!

Poulle-Belle by Alice Dufourmantelle + Juliette Mesnage + Eleonore Morand

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