Many people are starting to reap the benefits of raising their own chickens at home, for meat, eggs, and companionship. No matter what your reason for wanting to raise your own chickens, you’re going to need a chicken coop to keep them sheltered. But how do you know which coops are the best, and which are a waste of your hard-earned money?
Option #1: Build your own
This is, by far, the cheapest option for most backyard poulterers. (This is the name for someone who raises chickens or other poultry for food and eggs). But, as with any other do-it-yourself project, there are mistakes to be made, and if you don’t know what you’re doing, your coop might not protect your chickens from the elements, or from predators.
Thankfully, there are a variety of resources available for those who want to build their own chicken coops – and we’ve done some research to find which ones are the best. Currently, the website we feel strongest about is Building a Chicken Coop. This website offers a complete guide to raising chickens, as well as many different chicken coop designs, along with detailed plans to build.
This package offers so much more than just a great chicken coop plan, and we love all the extra bonuses that come with it. They even tell you how to get your chicken coop built for the lowest price – which can save you hundreds of dollars over pre-built coops! Whether you will be raising just one or two chickens, or a commercial quantity of 60 chickens or more, they have coop designs that will keep your chickens comfortable and protected.
Best of all, the company behind the guide has decided to offer a 60-day money-back guarantee, so there’s really nothing to lose. At any time in the first 60 days, if you decide that chicken coop building really isn’t for you after all, you can message them and they’ll return your purchase price – no questions asked. We love money-back guarantees, since the companies that offer them rarely require you to actually use them!
(Writer’s note: This site does have an automatically-starting video at the top of the page. Be warned and adjust your speakers appropriately before opening the link!)
Option #2: Buy one online
Even though the above guide is aimed at absolute beginners, you may find that you’d rather buy a chicken coop that has already been built for you. (Hey, there’s no shame in letting someone else do the hard work!) Pre-built chicken coops offer convenience, as they will come with all the pieces you need to get the job done. Of course, most will still need to be assembled when they come in, and they will generally cost more than purchasing plans and your own materials.
We have researched and found the 3 best chicken coops currently available on Amazon:
Confidence Pet 62″ Rabbit Hutch / Chicken Coop
When buying a pre-packaged chicken coop, it’s important that the assembly instructions are clear and concise. When your directions are easy to follow, it gives you confidence as a new poulterer… And that’s what Confidence Pet 62” Rabbit Hutch/Chicken Coop gave us. Assembly was quick and easy, and most of the holes came pre-drilled. You won’t need any specialty tools, either – definitely a plus for any cage of this type. We found it was super simple to modify the design as needed, which is wonderful because it’s not exactly a wonderful plan in the first place. (It’s definitely not bad, but pre-built cages will always come with flaws.)
Assembly took right around an hour with the included instructions, although there were some issues with the ramp – it’s not made of the sturdiest materials. Additionally, this is a little on the small side, and really will only work for one chicken, and only if they have a separate area to run and play – this unit is not large enough to be an all-day home. It’s also not quite sturdy enough to keep them safe from four-legged predators, so keep that in mind when making your decision.
Overall, we think this coop was designed primarily as a rabbit hutch, although it’s not really the best for that, either. The material is soft (cedar) and it’s a bit on the small side. If you need something to hold you over and you don’t mind upgrading as you go, this is a good choice for a starter home – just be sure to let your chicken out during the daytime!
Merax Cedar Wood House Small Animals Chicken Coop with Tray
The Merax Cedar Wood House has a fairly large floorplan for a ready-made coop, and although it still isn’t quite big enough for more than one chicken, one hen would be quite happy in this. The latches stick a bit and the bottom is open – not protected, so you may need to do some minor adjustments in order to get the best experience out of it.
Please note that this should not be considered an all-day home for your chickens – although there is a “run”, your chickens will be much happier if allowed to roam freely during the day. It also isn’t a great choice if you live out in the country, unless you do some major reinforcements – other animals could easily break into it if they were determined enough.
Overall, we still recommend building your own coop if at all possible, although this is not bad for the price. More experienced chicken keepers will likely be disappointed with this, but it should work fine for beginners trying to decide if chickens are right for them. Just remember, you will need to reinforce it if you live somewhere predators could be a problem.
Pawhut Wooden Chicken Coop / Poultry Hutch w/ Nesting Box
Now, let’s pretend you’ve decided that your chickens will have free reign of your yard during the day – as they should. The Pawhut Wooden Poultry Hutch was designed for nesting hens – in fact, it can comfortably hold four layers at the same time. There are two separate roosting areas, and a rather large nesting box – perfect for beginners who are waiting until they have a little more experience to get something better.
Of course, as with many other chicken coops available online, the materials could be much better, and it is not pre-insulated. The bottom tray lifts easily, which means it doesn’t offer the best protection from predators, either, so some adjustments will need to be made. Assembly according to the instructions wasn’t too difficult, and it doesn’t take an extensive amount of knowledge to modify the design for your specific needs.
Overall, for a temporary solution, we feel that this coop is a great choice for those who want to keep between two and five hens (five may be a little cramped, unless you are dealing with smaller chickens). It’s far from perfect, but if all you need is somewhere for them to lay, the reinforcements aren’t that difficult, and your chickens will love their new home. Just be prepared to upgrade in a few months – this isn’t the most durable, nor does it offer the most protection.
As with any other online purchase, it’s important to know what you’re looking for. Even with do-it-yourself coops, you’ll need to know what your specific needs are, in order to know what you’re looking for in the reviews.
How many chickens will you be raising?
A coop for one or two chickens is significantly smaller than a chicken coop for 5 chickens, for example, and larger broods will require even more space. In many cases, it might be a good idea to start with one small coop and expand as necessary. Additionally, some cities limit the number of chickens you can keep, so make sure you check with your local officials.
How much room do you have?
Of course, the room you have will probably determine how many chickens you’ll have, but if you have a smaller yard and want to raise more chickens, there are multi-story coops that can provide the smaller footprint you need.
How much time do you have to build your coop?
Even “pre-built” designs will require some assembly, but the complexity of the design will determine how much time needs to go into it. Keep in mind the time it takes you to gather supplies, too – this is what makes design plans take longer than pre-built coops.
What is your budget?
For those with a lower budget, building your own coop will often save you up to 50% of the price of a ready-made package. For those who have more money, but perhaps less time, pre-built kits offer the convenience of coming with everything you need.
What’s the weather like in your region?
If your area is prone to cold winters and/or harsh summers, you’ll need a chicken coop that keeps your feathered friends safe from the elements. If your coop does not come with an elevated base, keeping it on top of cinder blocks can help. An automatic door can help keep out the weather, too.