The 2018 Coop Tour is from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, April 21 on Whidbey Island. As the popularity of backyard chickens and other poultry continues to grow, the Rock’n Doodle 4-H Poultry Club is hosting its 8th annual Whidbey Island Coop Tour. This self-guided tour will offer visitors some of Whidbey’s most clever coops and enclosures. Whether you are a seasoned chicken farmer or just getting started with your flock, the tour is an opportunity to get new ideas in coop design and tips on raising an array of birds. This year’s tour includes seven stops between Coupeville to Clinton. 

The purpose of this event is educational, to help those interested, and to inspire raising poultry. A growing number of people—and not only in rural areas—are keeping backyard chickens and transforming their backyards into poultry farms for both eggs and meat. They're raising chickens as a way to move toward more organic, local, and sustainable living.

Attendees include island residents as well as people from surrounding urban areas, including Seattle—which is currently a national hot spot for chicken coops and urban farms.

People attending the tour get design ideas for the kind of coop or run they want to build or buy for their needs and circumstances. The Whidbey Island Coop Tour showcases coops from very simple designs to artistic, extravagant, and environmentally conscious designs that fit both urban and rural settings.

Some attendees may already have a coop and raise chickens already, but there’s always room for improvement—whether it’s their run; predator protection; manure maintenance; or basic set-ups of feeding, watering, and collecting eggs. The tour allows them to see how others solve these issues. It is a fun family event! Some people attend just to view the chickens, roosters, ducks, and other poultry.

Coop owners and Rock’n Doodle 4-H Poultry Club members will be on hand at every location to share their experiences and to answer questions about raising poultry, coop design, manure management, and more. These are the same 4-H children and teens you see in the poultry barn at the Whidbey Area Fair each year. These children are amazingly knowledgeable about raising poultry, and are willing to share their knowledge to promote the fun and purpose of raising chickens. This year the Rock’n Doodle 4-H club is partnering with other Island County 4-H clubs to bring you another fabulous and fun-filled Coop Tour.

4-H, backyard poultry keeping and urban farming helps families understand the importance of healthy food, organic farming practices, wetland conservation, animal care, and environmental stewardship in an urban space. Healthy food comes from healthy soil and animal products, which can be anywhere—even in the city. For the future, it’s important to grow farmers as well as crops and livestock.

The 2017 raffle is a beautiful and whimsical Repurposed Chicken Coop, designed by the Rock’n Doodle 4-H Poultry Club members. 

Many thanks to the Whidbey Island Community for its support of 4-H and all the important leadership opportunities it provides our Island youth, as well as for recognizing the important role small-farming plays in Island County.

We hope to see you on the tour!

Coop Tour tickets are $15 per car which admits all children and up to four adults. If you prefer to purchase your tickets in person, you can do so at Bayview Farm & Garden; Skagit Farmers Supply Country stores in Freeland and Oak Harbor;  and the Tractor Supply in Oak Harbor. (The links provided are for location information only.) Purchase tickets here.

The Cook brothers—Jameson, Adrian and Julian, left to right (photo by Marsha Morgan)

The Cook brothers—Jameson, Adrian and Julian, left to right (photo by Marsha Morgan)

The Rock'n Doodle 4H Poultry Club club is open to kids ages 5 to 18. The Cook brothers—Julian, 10, Adrian, 15, and Jameson, 18—are all members. Each won grand championships in Poultry Showmanship at the Island County Fair and they are experts on poultry nomenclature, diseases, breeds, science, maintenance, management and proper handling. “[Chickens] have lots of cool personalities,” explained Jameson, immediate past president. “Each is different, just like humans, and you can learn a lot” from their various characteristics.

Current club president Adrian agreed that in addition to being fun to have around, they provide an ongoing educational opportunity, which began for the boys when youngest brother Julian got chickens for his fifth birthday. Their mom, Julia Cook, said club members help advocate for preservation and renewal of a rural lifestyle that is rapidly disappearing. 

These are excerpts taken from Barbara Moran’s article that appeared in Whidbey Life Magazine. Read the entire article here. 

2015 Coop Tour

Here's some photos from the Whidbey Island 2015 Coop Tour.