Are you thinking about keeping chickens at home but not quite sure where to start? If so, there must be so many questions running through your mind now. Which breed should you buy? How many birds should you keep? Which is the best chicken coop? And how do you feed and care for your chickens?
If you’re keen to learn more about raising backyard chickens, then you’ve arrived in the right place. At Cooping With Chickens, we aim to offer new chicken owners the best ideas, advice, and the best chicken coop reviews so you can raise your chickens with total confidence.
Keeping chickens is fun, rewarding, and a wonderful venture for family bonding. And it’s not just for people who live in rural areas with vast spaces. There’s no need to be put off if you have a smaller suburban yard or limited time. There are low-maintenance, easy-care coops, and clever ways to care for small flocks in small spaces. The heartbreaking images of battery-farmed chickens we’ve seen in recent years have sparked a movement towards home-raised eggs and even suburban professionals are now keeping chickens in small back yards.
At Cooping With Chickens, we aim to be your one-stop place for all things chicken. So, whether you’re looking for reviews about the latest coops or need some information about coops for different flock sizes, budgets, and garden styles, we have you covered. We also have lots of expert advice on how to keep your chickens and their home in top notch condition.
If you’re brand new to keeping chickens or you’re considering starting and want to research ideas, the very first thing you need to think about is the coop. Read on to find out what you need to look for when you shop for a home for your chickens.
Essentials When Looking for the best Chicken Coop
More: Browse our chicken coop reviews
Not all coops are created equally and there are a surprising number of factors to consider when you go shopping for your first chicken coop. With that said, the most important features to look for are durability, cleaning, maintenance, safety, and the comfort and size of the coop and run. Use these basic guidelines to choose a coop that’s right for you:
How Durable Are The Materials? Will It Protect My Chickens From The Weather?
Your chicken coop will spend its life outside exposed to wind, rain, hail, snow, UV rays, and whatever else the weather in your area throws at it. Therefore, it has to be sturdy and durable in order to last and keep your chickens safe and comfortable.
Choose a coop with animal-friendly treated timber to help with resistance to rain and UV damage, and galvanized steel components to prevent rust. Look for elevated coops to keep out water from surface flooding and also check to see if there’s protection from rot on the legs of the coop.
Are There Features to Make Cleaning Easier?
Mucking out chicken coops can be back-breaking work if the coop is poorly designed. Additionally, an unhygienic coop is no good for your chickens. When coop shopping, you should look for coops with features that make cleaning easy. For example, you can get one that includes slide out steel floor trays that can be swept and hosed down without you having to get inside the coop. Access to all areas is also important: you want to be able to open out the coop to let air in and be able to treat it for red mites and other parasites that plague chickens.
Is The Safety and Comfort of My Chickens Taken Into Account?
Even in suburban neighborhoods, foxes pose a very real threat to your precious flock. Make sure that the coop can be locked up securely to keep your chickens in and predators out. Any hatches on nesting boxes should be high enough that a fox cannot force it open with the nose or paws and get at the chickens that way.
You should also look for features that target the comfort of your flock. Since chickens like to roost at bedtime, be sure to check if there’s enough perch space for the number of birds you intend to buy. A private, secluded spot for laying eggs will also make a chicken more comfortable. So, look for nesting boxes that are an annex to the main coop.
How Much Interior and Run Space Will I Need?
The size of the coop you buy will depend on the breed you choose and the number of chickens you want. But as a rough guide, you should have a minimum of 4 square feet per chicken in the coop and about ten square feet of outdoor space.
If you plan to let your chickens out to free range, you could have a slightly smaller run because you know that they’re getting plenty of exercise and stimulation during the day. Most manufacturers specify the number of chickens their coop or run is suitable for so check the specifications when you’re shopping.
Chicken Coop Reviews
The following are two examples of quality entry-level chicken coops on the market. We’ve included a brief review of the key features to give you an idea of what to expect – you can also click through to see more detailed information and reviews.
This charming little coop has a warm, safe interior for one or two chickens and a built-in run for day time grazing. Its tongue and groove style boards and cottage-like design make an attractive talking point in any garden.
- Slide out galvanized metal floor for easy cleaning
- Attached outdoor run for chickens to roam and peck
- Secure locks on each of the doors and access points
- Ventilation window with shutter to keep chickens cool in summer and warm in winter
- Comfortable nesting compartment with lift-up hatch for easy egg collection
- 2 roosting perches allow chickens to sleep in their natural way
- Roof opens out to allow easy access to all areas of the coop
- The FeelGoodUK Chicken Coop Measures 151 cm (width) x 70 cm (depth) x 93 cm (height) and will comfortably house 1 to 2 medium chickens or up to 3 bantams.
- It’s really easy to put together using the step by step instructions. Most reviewers reported having their chicken coop ready for action in under an hour.
- The cleaning is a breeze. Just slide out the tray, brush off any manure, and hose it down. You also have the benefit of being able to open out the roof during the day to let light and air in.
- The built-in run area means you’ll be chicken-ready as soon as the coop arrives.
- The solid roof on the run area protects your birds from the heat of the sun or from rainy days so they will always be able to get out for a peck around.
- While the coop itself is fox-proofed well, you may want to attach a layer of wire mesh to the floor of the run to stop a wily fox digging under and getting in that way.
Is The FeelGoodUK Chicken Coop Right For You?
If you want to start off small with just one or two chickens, and would like an outdoor run incorporated in your hen-house, then this little coop is a great place to start. It’s a no-fuss option for people who want to keep a pet chicken or two without too much planning or DIY work.
This sturdy yet stylish coop is perfect for flocks of up to eight chickens and has been tested to withstand all weather conditions with its treated timber and thoughtful construction. It’s great for people who have the yard space to free range their chickens during the day and just want somewhere safe and secure to put them away at night.
- Slide out galvanized metal floor tray for easy cleaning
- Made from animal-friendly treated timber to withstand the elements
- Plastic cups on the coop legs to protect from rot
- Four removable perches for chickens to roost comfortably
- Two nest boxes with 3 compartments each for laying
- Easy access to all areas with lift-up roof, sliding front door and nesting box hatches
- Secure locking mechanisms on all doors to keep chickens in and predators out
- The Chicken Coops Imperial Marlborough Large Chicken Coop measures 150 cm (width) x 100 cm (depth) x 96 cm (height) and is a comfortable home for up to eight birds, depending on their size.
- The tongue and groove style treated boards and felt lining on the roof look stylish and attractive in your backyard.
- It’s really easy for two people to put together using the step by step instructions and clear diagrams.
- You get the flexibility to set it up to suit your own flock: you can add or remove perches, choose how many nesting compartments you make available and decide on the size and style of run you want.
- The interior feels spacious, light, and airy, and most reviewers reported that their feathered friends are very happy in their new home.
- Some people have found that the roosting perches are a little too low for their chickens to roost on. Because the perches are removable, it’s fairly easy to make some small adjustments to bring them up to the height you prefer.
Is The Chicken Coops Imperial Marlborough Chicken Coop Right for Me?
If you’re looking to start off with a slightly larger flock of up to eight birds and have the space to free range them, then this coop is definitely worth your consideration. The attention to little details like the removable perches, rot-proof cups on the legs, and ventilation window, ensure that you’ll have a lasting coop and your chickens will have a comfortable home.
The Benefits Of Keeping Chickens
More: Browse our tips for keeping chickens
Keeping chickens is enjoyable, rewarding, a great family activity and, of course, you’ll have the benefit of fresh eggs each day. Chickens are very pretty, sociable creatures and it’s relaxing and good for the soul to watch them peck happily in your yard. Setting things up well from the start is key to ensuring that you reap the optimum benefits from your work. If you’re interested in finding out more about what’s involved in setting up to keep chickens, click through to this “The Cost of Keeping Chickens” article for more detail.
Having fresh eggs every day is just the beginning. There’s a whole plethora of benefits to keeping chickens that you might not have thought of. Here are just a few of the ways that keeping chickens can improve the quality of your life:
Delicious, Humanely Raised Eggs
The way that chickens in battery farms are treated is not pretty. The chickens laying your eggs live their entire lives in a space smaller than a standard sheet of paper and are unable to do any of their natural behaviors such as pecking for insects, dust-bathing, roosting, and nesting.
Making the choice to raise your own hens for eggs is making the choice to boycott these cruel practices. Your family’s eggs will in turn be produced naturally and humanely by happy chickens. You can also choose to use organic chicken feed and your own kitchen scraps so you’ll know exactly what went into producing your eggs and that there’s no genetically modified material.
Family Fun and Learning
Keeping chickens is a wonderful way to spend quality time with your family while teaching young children about responsibility, compassion, and kindness. Children can give the chickens names and take charge of feeding them, checking that they’re healthy, cleaning the coop, and collecting the eggs. It’s a practical and rewarding way for you to teach them valuable life skills.
Work That’s Rewarding
The work of caring for chickens is fun, rewarding, and a great way to get a bit more active. You’ll be able to watch your chickens grow and flourish and know that it’s from your care. It’s a wonderful, wholesome feeling to know you’re able to provide for your family through hard work and dedication.
As well as the lifestyle benefits, there are more tangible rewards. Chicken manure is an excellent garden fertilizer, while chickens help to weed and keep bugs down. To top those off, you’ll be able to enjoy the fresh eggs that result from your work.
So, what are you waiting for? Don’t just dream about becoming more self-sufficient and reaping the rewards of keeping chickens! Do a bit of research, invest in a quality coop, find the right chickens for your needs, and get started! If you set things up right from the start, you’ll find the experience both surprisingly easy and hugely beneficial.