Pecking Order

When the chickens come home to roost, they just might end up on residential lawns. Thanks to Green Chicken Coop, a Bay City-based company that sells pre-made, eco-friendly poultry pens, locavores hatching a plan to raise their own backyard brood can purchase made-to-order coops.

Green Chicken Coop makes a variety of handmade coops, from the Briar design (two-to-four hen occupancy), to the 4-by-7-foot Elizabeth, which can support up to a dozen layers. Coop prices start around $300 and increase depending on design and other options. Custom paint jobs, interior lighting, Plexiglas windows, and slatted or linoleum floors are also available.

“What our coops do is offer the choices of custom features,” says Dan Cohen, Green Chicken Coop’s creator. “Depending on where you are in the country, or what kind of birds you have, we can offer a custom coop for your particular situation.”

Cohen says he got into the business by accident when his wife wanted to raise chickens in their yard. Because he was a cabinetmaker for more than 30 years, it made sense for him to design and build his own hen house. His wife was so delighted with the final product that she persuaded him to shop the design around. This was nearly four years ago. Now, Green Chicken Coop is Cohen’s full-time gig, and his creations were even featured on The Martha Stewart Show last spring.

With the slow-food movement gaining momentum, and a number of recent major egg recalls inciting fear, tending one’s own chickens has become popular. In September, Goldner Walsh Garden & Home in Pontiac hosted a workshop with Cohen on backyard chicken raising.

“Without getting too profound, I really think it’s a psychological thing,” Cohen says. “It’s like comfort food. It allows somebody with a tiny backyard the ability to produce eggs, which are — by the way — much higher in quality than you could buy in a store.”

Brandon Layne, a real estate investor/builder who raises chickens and turkeys at his home in Newport, boils it down: “There’s this inherent desire for people to get back to their agricultural roots. …They get the added perk of having a pet, and can watch the whole circle of life.”