NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

PortWatch

June 12, 2013

Innovative chicken coops can give a yard some chic

(Continued)

Still others have installed solar power in their coops, along with timers that turn lights on and off and open and close doors. Many coops have been built with wheels so they can be maneuvered around lawns. That’s an efficient way to fertilize, too.

“People want interesting coops but still very utilitarian,” said Marci Ameluxen, a 4-H poultry club leader and one of Whidbey Island’s annual coop tour organizers. “In Portland (Ore.) on their coop tour, I’ve seen pictures of Victorian gingerbread coops and Manhattan skyline coops.”

Williams-Sonoma, the San Francisco-based retailer of kitchenware and home furnishings, launched an agrarian product line a year ago featuring designer chicken coops.

“We’re selling them from Seattle to Boston to Florida,” said Allison O’Connor, the company’s vice president of merchandising.

The marketing program was developed in part to satisfy customer demand for safe, wholesome foods, O’Connor said.

“Having farm-fresh eggs is a new experience for a great many people,” she said. “People are looking at chickens more as family pets — as extensions of their family. We’re up to nine coops (designs) now and will be introducing a couple more next month.”

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