Meet the Maker: Dan Cohen of Green Chicken Coop

Agrarian, DIY, Make, Makers, Meet

In 2006, Dan Cohen’s son bought a house nearby with a chicken coop in the backyard. After a while, Cohen’s wife got tired of going over and collecting eggs from his house, so she asked her husband, a carpenter, to build her a chicken coop in their own yard. One day later, the coop was finished.

 

At the time, Cohen laughed when his wife suggested he sell the coops. After all, he specialized in building furniture, making cabinets and working in museums; he attended art school with Jeff Koons and had a background in architectural model making.

 

But it was around that time that the economy began to falter, so Cohen started investigating the market for chicken coops. He posted the coop in his backyard online as a sample of his work, and the response was overwhelming.

 

“I got 20 to 30 emails a day,” he says. “I realized I’d found something here. I’d never gotten that kind of response from anything I’d ever done, so I knew there was a need for quality chicken coops.”

 

Cohen is no stranger to raising chickens himself, having kept a flock himself as a kid, so he knew quite a bit about backyard structures already. He developed a couple of designs and started building in the workshop behind his house in 2007 and 2008. From there, he created a website to market his coops, and within six months he outgrew his workshop, leasing additional space for building. Green Chicken Coop was born.

 

“We are thrilled to bits,” he says of his partnership with Williams-Sonoma, which has allowed his coops to reach a wider audience. “We’re building coops as fast and as well as we can right here in Bay City, Michigan, and all of our employees are local to us. We do everything here; we don’t order anything from outside. We’ve come up with the perfect solution for chicken coops, with ventilations and enclosed runs so the chickens can roam outside during the day.”

 

In addition to the high-quality design, Green Chicken Coop uses only certifiable materials, including wood from local trees and low-VOC colorants. “It’s not only important for the customer to operate in a sustainable way, but it helps the chickens. There are no harmful chemicals in the wood; even the linoleum we use is made of plant-based products. It’s as pure as you can get raising chickens in your own yard.”

 

More people are raising chickens in their yards that in previous years, a trend that Cohen attributes to raised awareness of factory farming practices and nutrition. As many as 25 percent of Cohen’s customers have never kept chickens before, and he loves educating them and keeping up with them as they enjoy keeping their own flocks.

 

“Most families raised chickens 100 years ago, but that dwindled away with factory farming,” he says. “The philosophy of nourishing yourself from your own backyard is amazing, and the health benefits of these eggs you’re producing in your backyard is far superior to anything you can buy commercially.”

 

Cohen has one of each of his seven coop models in his own backyard, keeping chickens for his family. Observing them helps him continue to learn about their needs and improve his designs.

 

And aside from that, of course, he has the luxury of keeping chickens. “It’s just fun,” he laughs. “You have pets that produce food for you — my cocker spaniel doesn’t do that. It’s a satisfying feeling to keep chickens just like our grandparents did.”

 

For Cohen, the most rewarding aspect of starting Green Chicken Coop has been his interactions with the hundreds of people he’s introduced to raising chickens. Even many urban environments have seen an increase in new owners, with local communities starting chicken keeping groups, coop tours and gatherings to discuss techniques.

 

“I hear back from them, and it’s become a big part of their lives,” he says of his customers. “It makes them feel like they’re in tune with the earth. It’s so easy to grab a dozen eggs at the store, but people who raise their own chickens would never do that. Once you start keeping chickens, you’re going to be keeping them for a long, long time — you provide for them so they provide for you.”

 

Shop our chicken coops from Green Chicken Coop:

 

24 comments about “Meet the Maker: Dan Cohen of Green Chicken Coop

  1. Julie Lubold

    I was not a huge egg fan until I started eating those from Dan and Mava’s chickens. Now, I crave them. I think they spoil them with treats because they are so good! Happy chickens!

    Reply
  2. Julie Marie Roth

    Mava, Glad your business is doing so well!!! What do you charge for a dozen eggs???

    Reply
  3. Sheri King

    These chicken coops are works of art! Thank you for making a great, sustainable product and for employing local workers. There is nothing like going to the coop and gathering your own eggs. Congratulations!

    Reply
  4. Dave Hill

    Great Story, on a Wonderful Family Owned Business ! We arrange the Transportation
    of Green Chicken Coops to their end users, and have heard many rave reviews of the quality of their coops. These chickens are fortunate to have such caring owners, and beautiful homes !

    Reply
  5. Tom McNulty

    My wife and I have a Coop that Dan made for us last year, he made it and delivered it to our place in Michigan as it needed special work due to the site. ( hilly), we now are going to expand or have a different one built as we has thought of refinements we would like. (Lights, power outlights, ect) Dan the Man is exactly that, very good workmanship, good detail and proud presentation. After a year and wet spring, it is doing him proud. We could not be any happier. And the chickens love it.

    Reply
  6. Myra Devlin

    Wish I had received the Wm. Sonoma catalog with your story earlier because I would have ordered one of your coops! I now have one I am experimenting with and it needs improvements which my local carpenter will do. I went on line and could not find the right coop nor did I find your company when I was
    doing my search. Love your designs. You keep weather in mind and that is important in hot and cold Kansas! Keep up the good work and I am passing this information on.

    Reply
  7. Evangelina

    WOW! Wish I had one of these, but unfortunately for me its expensives. Why won’t he sell his way of building it ourselves and it’ll be less expensive, and will be able to buy the
    design and do it ourself. It’ will be less.

    Reply
  8. Denise Underwood

    Your chicken coops are my all time favorites and someday I will save enough to buy one. Keep up the beautiful work!

    Reply
  9. Chicken Coop Giveaway: Enter for a Chance to Win!

    1. Christine

      To the blog author, Olivia Ware:

      In the ninth paragraph, you mistakenly used the word ‘your’ when you should have used ‘you’re.’

      “Most families…and the health benefits of these eggs your (should be ‘you’re’, the contraction of ‘you are’) producing in your backyard is far superior to anything you can buy commercially.” ‘Your’ is a pronoun that is the possessive case of ‘you.’

      To Dan Cohen and his talented team:
      I love these chicken coops! I’ve read the entire site and really enjoyed your videos. Good luck with your business!

      Reply
  10. Kim

    I just got my Alexandria coop today and LOVE it!!!! I have a question though. Do we need to seal the wood or does the green paint a colored sealer? Also, I would like to suggest putting a piece of wood along the front of the nesting boxes to hold the shavings in and also maybe make a pullout tray behind the double doors to facilitate easier cleaning of the area under the nesting bar where they popp a lot. That’s just my two cents and what I plan to do. Thanks for such a quality product made with love!!!

    Reply
  11. laurie

    Dan is so great. I stumbled upon his web site before he started selling his coops through other retailers. We talked on the phone and figured out my aunt lives in the same town in Michigan! I am on the West Coast. Our coop arrived in awesome condition and it was easy to assemble thanks to his clear labeling of the pieces. We have a small flock of very pampered Buff Orpingtons. We’re on year 3 with our coop and it has faired very well in our wet NW climate. I highly recommend.

    Reply
  12. Windy Knoll

    My four ladies love their ‘Green Cicken Coop’ and so do we! Cannot wait for our first eggs in just a few weeks. Our grandson loves to feed the cluck-clicks. Thanks Dan.

    Reply
  13. Made in the USA | Williams-Sonoma Taste

  14. Nicole

    As fellow furniture makers and backyard chicken raisers, this article was fascinating to read on multiple levels. What a neat way to stay busy in the down market and help people to raise their own food!

    We have a large homeade coop and chicken tractor but are reconsidering the poultry housing arrangement since the free range birds do create quite a substantial quantity of manure- often on the porch or picnic table. Portable runs are an interesting solution allowing access to bugs and pasture.

    Reply
  15. D.A.

    I had back yard chickens for about 2 years. loved them. not sure why they died. will get more in the future.
    They were very easy to care for. The one downfall was that their feed attracted rats. I have dogs and kids in the same yard as the chickens. How can I keep the rats away next time I get chickens? (without poison all around)
    thank you.

    Reply

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