Buy? Or Build? Heeeeellllllppppp!!

mcchapin

Chirping
Apr 3, 2013
3
0
59
As I am sure you are aware, I am such a newby to the chicken arena that I haven’t even gotten my first chicken yet! I have been studying coops. Now, since I am just beginning, isn’t it okay if I purchase a cute little coop, or do you really have to build one?? Honestly, I would much rather buy one! A builder I ain’t!! And, I would like to the the beginning of this new adventure as simple as possible for me! Now, since I have all that outta the way, which brand is best?
I hope I am not becoming a bother! I want to be successful when I do actually get a chicken! And thank you for all of your help!
I live in Hawaii at 2500’ elevation. It gets up to 90 in the summer and down to 45 in the winter - no frost but lots of wind and mist. I don’t know how comparable it is to where you live. We do have predators in the form of hawks, mongoose and goats that can bust through chicken wire. I built my first coop out of a large shipping box (8’x4’) and it’s ugly but functioned for 4 chickens. I added a very large run around it for 10 chickens and a turkey.
recently I decided to switch from Jungle fowl to some purebreds. I wanted something that was easy to clean and keep mites at bay and secure. I bought the Formex Snap and Lock large size. It was pricey but I have 6 large girls now. They all fit with ample space. It literally took me 15 minutes to assemble and I love it! I added a run with wheels on it for a “tractor” that I can move around the lawn. With only 3 hens the small Snap and Lock would be big enough. The instructions have diagrams on how to build a base to fit it. You could easily add a small run on to it. Pintrest has tons of ideas for this. I agree with the others, you want to make sure you have your investment safe from predators and fit within the city guidelines. It’s well worth investing in them because the eggs and affection you get back is amazing! Good luck.
 

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schmedlap

In the Brooder
Jan 3, 2020
48
89
43
Delaware
study different plans, keeping in mind a secure run. pick one that fits your needs. either build it yourself, or hire a capable contractor. you'll be much happier with it than a premade one. so will your girls.
 

3KillerBs

Crowing
Jul 10, 2009
2,520
4,229
436
North Carolina Sandhills
I've recently looked at plans for a 4x6 square foot floor that say good for 12 chickens.
That's an excellent example of how the pre-fabs always exaggerate. 4x6 is good only for 6 chickens maximum -- and that only if none of that space is taken up by feeders, waterers, and nestboxes.

Height is necessary to allow the chickens to roost above the nestboxes, to allow a good depth of bedding so that you can clean weekly or monthly instead of daily, and to allow the ventilation to be placed above the chickens' heads when they are on their roost. It doesn't otherwise contribute to the number of chickens that can be kept in a given space.

A 4'x4'x4 cube, like my Little Monitor Coop, is the smallest area I'd consider for an effective coop. The thread I linked includes an analysis of what I did right and what I did wrong. (I may have linked this before. Sorry if I've duplicated, but I lose track of what I've said in which threads. :D ).

One thing to be wary of about height -- I have seen people's photos of pre-fab coops that are obviously small rabbit hutches re-named to market to chicken newbies and which are so short that a full-grown chicken cannot stand upright. My in-town rooster, Marion, was over two feet tall (hatchery quality Light Brahma (Ideal)). The Brahma girls were about 18".

I thought that the gazebo conversion someone suggested was an excellent idea.
 

bmurphy349

In the Brooder
Sep 15, 2019
15
13
33
Most prefab coops are good for 1.5 adult chickens, from what I've seen.
We have 2 prefab combined so it’s supposed to be good for 6-10 birds. It’s our “baby” coop and I have 6 in there that aren’t quite big enough to move to the big coop - and it’s too small for the babies. I’m hoping to move them out in the next couple of weeks - then the “baby” coop reverts to the “brood breaking” coop and it will be one lady at a time. :)
 

U_Stormcrow

Songster
Jun 7, 2020
502
919
176
North FL Panhandle Region / Wiregrass
Build.

But if you must (due to time constraints, skill constraints, tools constraints, or some combination of the three), buy. NOT a prefab "hen house". Expensive, tiny, need to be completely redone for predators, storms, the comfort and health of your birds, etc.

Instead buy a prefab shed, have it delivered to your site, anchor it with tie downs, then start cutting and nailing to add roosts, more ventilation, and hardware cloth over those vent openings. Will STILL cost to much, and be a shoddy, sub-code build in FL (they have exceptions applicable specifically to portable, non site-built sheds which allow 24" framing, 2x3 whitewood framing no hurricane ties, etc. and yet it will be FAR superior to one of those farm store prefabs made from staples and 3/8" interior grade plywood and osb.

You want 4 sq ft per bird of floor space, and 1 sq ft per bird of ventilation as the usual rule of thumb - which is why you will be adding vents around the eaves, or enlarging what's there. Sadly, most sheds from those sources include essentially no overhang, so the soffit vents most of us swear by for a host of reasons are completely out for you. Big gable vents, then attach a prebuilt louvered grill from a big box store. Covers a host of errors.

and plan on more chickens than you are currently buying. **Chicken Math** is a rule of the Universe, like gravity, but less predictable.
 
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kagarris

Chirping
Jan 29, 2019
17
52
76
Ridgefield, Washington USA
My Coop
I read and read and read about chickens and still made the mistake of buying a prefab coop. As many people on this thread have mentioned, I was misled on how many chickens I could keep in it. I didn't lose a single chick and I didn't have any roosters. It didn't take long to realize my mistake. Thus, we bought a prefab and then went ahead and built one much better. We followed the instructions in the book "How to Build Chicken Coops, Everything you need to know" by Samantha Johnson and Daniel Johnson. The book was $20 brand new and worth every penny. It gives good advice on ventilation and things like that. So even if you don't follow it exactly, it gives you ideas. The only thing I would have done differently is place the removable wall on an outside wall as opposed to the wall to the run.
 

Elaina Melito

In the Brooder
Oct 9, 2020
12
73
40
Welcome to BYC! Many on here, myself included, would recommend building a coop or hiring someone to build one. Building one is much more cost efficient, and you are able to customize the coop to your needs. Most prefabricated coops are very small and made out of poor quality materials. As @neo71665 said, many people spend more many than they're worth trying to upgrade the prefab to work.
Hi chicklady here I have a 10+10 dog pen got at tractor supply has a tarp cover on top also we put small square chicken wire all around it from top to bottom and chicken wire under pen to keep digging predators out just a thought has worked great. Also big enough to put little chicken coop in side for chickens to nest and roost!!!!
 

Chicken Newbie07

Chirping
May 17, 2019
75
74
81
As I am sure you are aware, I am such a newby to the chicken arena that I haven’t even gotten my first chicken yet! I have been studying coops. Now, since I am just beginning, isn’t it okay if I purchase a cute little coop, or do you really have to build one?? Honestly, I would much rather buy one! A builder I ain’t!! And, I would like to the the beginning of this new adventure as simple as possible for me! Now, since I have all that outta the way, which brand is best?
I hope I am not becoming a bother! I want to be successful when I do actually get a chicken! And thank you for all of your help!


Maybe this can help you decide.
 

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