Chicken coops tend not to bring thoughts of high design and innovation. The introduction of the Eglu in 2004 by British company Omlet changed the way urbanites think about raising hens.
With economic stimulus checks reaching mailboxes this week, we can't think of a better way to spend your 600 clucks -- we mean bucks.
Lets take a closer look at just how amazing the Eglu and the new Eglu Cube are and how you could soup it up...
First a primer on how this ingenious contraption works from an amazing little saleswoman.
The new Eglu Cube is basically a larger hutch, enough for ten chickens instead of three.
Inside the hutch the chickens have a large roosting area fitted with a slatted wooden floor. All droppings fall through the slats onto dropping trays, which slide out and can be emptied onto the compost heap!
The removable lid and back panel give you access to the inside when you need to clean, and since you're not dealing with porous (and splinter-filled wood) you can easily hose down and sponge the smooth plastic surface. Seriously, we don't know what could make this easier. Oh right, an egg port on the side of the house gives you access to the nests where your fresh eggs will be laid each day.
The chickens can be let out during the day within their fenced in play area accessed through a mini ladder. Using the handle on the side of the Eglu, you can swing the front door open to let your chicks play.
Now for the geeky part. We were wondering, you know after you shell out $600 (or over a grand for the UK-only Cube), how you could make this even more convenient...
Oh yah! Rig a system so that you're notified when a egg has been laid. There are probably a million ways to do this, but one way would be to install weight sensors under the roosting nests that would know what the nests weigh without a chicken in them. If a chicken got out of the nest and it was slightly heavier than it was previously the sensor would be alerted (granted, it would have to be incredibly sensitive so it could sense even the smallest weight change).
The sensor would be connected to a networked computer, which would then send an alert, either via email or SMS, to let you know you have an egg waiting for you. If you wanted to get even more nerdy, you could install small lights and a webcam in the nest to monitor your roosting hens while you were at work.
We haven't seen a hacked Eglu yet, have you?
Are there better ways to network your Eglu?