Nothing makes a poultry keeper happier than spreading the feathered love with those who have yet to experience the joys of raising chickens.
Showing the uninitiated how easy it is to care for backyard birds, how beautiful the different breeds are, and how architecturally attractive a coop can be may be all it takes to turn them from outsiders to owners.
But why give newcomers just a taste of the chicken life when they can have a veritable buffet? By organizing a Tour de Coops in your town, you and your fellow flock keepers can offer potential poultry proprietors the opportunity to visit a variety of microflock operations as well as the chance to talk shop with experienced owners to get the scoop on keeping a coop.
Arranging a Tour de Coops may take a little work, but this labor of love can blossom into a yearly event that can attract interested visitors from your area and beyond. Cities such as Austin, Minneapolis and St. Paul, Chicago, and Raleigh are among the many municipalities across America that offer annual coop tours. Add your locale to the list of Tour de Coops towns by following these steps.
Choose Your Style
After choosing to host a Tour de Coops, your next important decision is to determine the kind of tour to offer.
There are two main types to consider.
- Self tours are similar to open houses: guests choose which coops to visit from a list of participating homes, then stop by each location at a time of their choosing. Guests can go to one, some or the entire list of hosts in any order they wish.
- Scheduled tours also feature a selection of participating homes. However, each location has designated hours for visitation.
Once you’re set on the type of coop tour you wish to offer, contact your town or city hall to see if there are any permits you need to obtain in order to hold your Tour de Coops.
You may be asked how you plan to handle traffic and parking and if you will be charging an admission fee. And you could be required to obtain event insurance in case someone gets injured visiting a property.
Don’t be discouraged by the legal processes. The staff at your municipal office has experience in helping stage events and will gladly guide you through the steps you need to take.
While your neighbors may be eager to participate, the best coop tours wind through different neighborhoods, displaying the diversity of poultry operations in your town.
Consider setting up an application process to ensure your participants have the following:
- Healthy, well-kept birds
- A clean, attractive coop
- Enough parking space for tour guests
- A willingness to chat with visitors about anything and everything chicken.
Seek out participants by contacting your area’s backyard-chicken association, your local 4-H club and your regional Future Farmers of America office. You can also post notices on community boards at your feed shop, farm-supply store and supermarket.
Set a Date
While it’s possible to offer a Tour de Coops during the colder months, you’ll have a more successful venture in the spring, during the season’s “chick days” craze, and in the fall, when people are considering plans for the following year.
Check your Chamber of Commerce’s calendar to make sure your coop tour won’t conflict with another local event. If you live in or near a university town, you may wish to check the college sports schedule so that your coop tour doesn’t coincide with a home football or baseball game and its related traffic.
Get the Word Out
Start publicizing once you have a date set and a roster of participants lined up.
Print up a colorful, eye-catching flyer, preferably with photographs of chickens and coops, and post it on community boards at your market, church, feed shop, farm-supply store, high school and town hall.
If you are computer savvy, create an account for your Tour de Coops on Facebook and other social media such as Instagram and Twitter. Post photos and updates to build anticipation for your event.
When you are approximately four weeks from the big day, send a press release to your local radio station, television news station and newspapers, giving them the who, what, where, when and why details so that they can promote your coop tour. This is no guarantee that the media will cover the event, but it’s a bonus if they do.
Make It Fun
The key goal of your Tour de Coops is to share your love of poultry keeping with newcomers to the hobby.
While this should be first and foremost, be sure to incorporate fun features that encourage interaction with your your guests. Here are some suggestions:
- A Tour de Coops passport to be stamped at each location visited
- Light snacks or beverages at the tour stops
- Helping with egg collection
- Open voting for “Best Coop” by those on the coop tour
- Offering or selling a badge, T-shirt, or embroidered patch to collect for each year your Tour de Coops takes place.
Offer things everyone—participants and guests—can enjoy. After all, it’s that enjoyment that started you on your chicken-keeping journey … and may start others, too.