First coop - will we regret something this small? (UPDATED)


10 Years
Apr 30, 2011
We've got some little chicks that will be moving out of the brooder in a couple more weeks and have been deliberating what to do for a coop and run for them. Because we feel our backs are against the wall time-wise, we're wondering about getting something like this little coop, but are concerned that it'll end up being way too tight for three average-to-large sized hens.

We were looking at building a variation of The Garden Ark, but think it might be too heavy to move around easily. Also, we like the idea of having a nesting box off the side of the hen house and we're pretty sure we want a lined drawer tray for cleaning, but don't know how big a deal it really is.

The other thought we have is making a lightweight run out of pvc pipe that could attach to the hen house, but be easy to move around the yard. If we had something like that, it might not be so important to move the hen house frequently.

Will we be happiest building our own, or are these little ready-to-assemble coops really not all that bad?

Any advice or suggestions?

Edited with additional information and other options:

We live in a suburban city just east of Seattle on a 7600 square ft lot and the current rules limit us to 4 hens. We recently had our fist batch of chicks from eggs given us from some rural friends - 4 of them made it to the brooder. Since we started our first incubation with a lightbulb in a cardboard box and then switched over to a HovaBator on day 16, we decided to run another small batch of 5 eggs with the lessons we learned. We're on day 15 with these new eggs and they've all got a little chick moving around in them. big_smile

We don't anticipate keeping more than 3 hens, but it may be tempting to modify that in the future. The climate here is pretty moderate all year round, but seems to have varied from that tendency last couple years.

We thought we might start with something pretty small in hopes that it would be simple to upgrade to something more appropriate when the need becomes obvious. If that is the path chosen, we might possibly be able to use the outgrown "house" as a brooder??? But we also don't have a lot of extra money to throw away, either.

Our back yard is fully fenced with chicken wire along the bottom 18" (for when we got our puppy a few years ago and wanted to let her run around free back there). We anticipate letting the chickens having the whole back yard to forage in for several hours a day unless they're bothered by predators. In that case, I would make a portable "run" for their protection that we could move around in the yard.

So, we're envisioning the hen house being in a fixed location to accommodate them when they're not in the portable run. After all the advice to go bigger, we've found a couple coops that are larger and we believe would work better.

Would you guys mind taking a look at coop models CC-28 and CC-03 near the end of The CC-28 has a 36x27 "house" with a 3-wide nesting box in the back while the CC-03 has a 28x23.5 "house" with a 2-wide nesting box on the side. Would either of these be a suitable fit for 3 (and at most 4) hens?
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3 chickens ???
Do you think you will ever get more chickens ? If so, I would go with something a bigger.

If you are positive you will only ever have 3 chickens, then that would be ok .
I am a newbie to chickens too, I have 6 that are 6 weeks old and I am already positive I will get more. We built big !
I have read many post where the person wishes they would have gone a little larger with their coop, but if you're like me--I'm trying to keep mine a secret (Shhh!) you go as small as possible. Watch out--chickens can be come addicting. I am in the finishing stages of my coop. I have six comets that I brought home the day before Easter, my son is going to take four on Monday, which will leave me with two, but I am seriously thinking about going ahead and keeping one more. I mean if I'm breaking my HOA with chickerns in the first place, what's one more. If it were me and my neighborhood would permit it, I would go larger.
It only gives the overall enclosure dimensions, not the size of the coop. It looks VERY small IMHO. I would ask the company the actual dimensions of the coop part.
It doesn't really take too long to make a basic coop and pen and then you can fancy it up later.
This seems a bit small (from the picture the hen going up the ramp seems almost as large as the coop itself). Might be OK for small bantams.

We recently expanded our run on the bantam coop using electrical pipe (less expensive and thicker than PVC) and hardware cloth. We attached it to a frame on the bottom (for added stability) and to the coop so it is not mobile but the principle of such is the same.

Because we were working with 36" hardware cloth, the run is three feet high and three feet wide. It is 10 feet long because this pipe comes in 5 and 10 foot lengths. Hardware cloth was attached to it with zip ties. It was very easy to put together.

Here is a picture of it prior to us putting on the top:


We got the idea for this from the coop/run listed on the "small coop" section on this site. There are many versions of a small coop listed there and on here. I've enjoyed reading the recent one about using a childs playhouse as a coop.

IMO ... NO it's simply not big enough. On BYC most people recommend 4sq ft of space per chicken inside and 10 sq ft of space per chicken outside. I have 12 chickens in a 12X5 coop and 12x10 run. And frankly its just barely big enough. Both are high enough for me to walk in so I've been able to put the nest boxes up high (more usuable floor space) and install plenty of ladder roosts to help use the height. Last winter was a really bad one and the girls were kept in the coop three days and they were irritable being that closed up. If I'm reading the measurement correctly on the site, the complete overall dimensions are 78 inches by 30 inches. So 6.5 ft X 2.5 ft/10=1.3 chickens can be in there, just going by the run size..... (Not positive my math is perfect here, but I think I'm doing it right)
So no I would not use that for large breed fowl. Maybe 2-3 banties IF I were very short on space. I don't over crowd my animals, it causes other problems that then have to be managed. If you are going to spend $400 you can do much better for them. It will only take a few extra weeks to do it right so I would suffer now, to make my girls happier "forever". Sorry to be a Debbie Downer, but you asked for our opinions. Check out the small coop pages here for some awesome ideas, people have thought of everything!!
It's cute, but looks barely large enough for 1 standard sized chicken. Try looking on CL; often people sell used ones cheaply. Just be sure to disinfect it if you go that route.

GeorgiaGail; very clever idea for a run!!
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build your own! it really does come out cheaper, and you can be certain you get what you and your chicks want/need! we have very limited building knowledge and we're doing just fine, the folks on here are super willing to help with ideas and advice! one of our cost saving ideas was to use pallets, it's working out quite well, they're free, and we've gotten great 2x4's from them.

anyway go bigger, you'll thank everybody the first time you want to add more chicks, and you'll always want to add more chicks! it's chicken math!!!
I would say that coop is definitely to small for standard sized chickens. I understand the time constraints you are under but I would definitely go bigger. I have 4 standard Buff Orpingtons and have them in a 4'x4' raised coop and I wish it was bigger. It provides them 4 sq ft of space each but still seems small to me. I used a 10x10x6 chainlink dog kennel for their run. I had built another run area but it had just seemed to small. They went from 40 square feet of run to 100. More room makes for happier girls. Good luck with your coop.
What kind of climate do you have to work with? One problem with using a tractor as year round housing is that in places that get winters you end up having to park the tractor when there's snow on the ground anyway. It's harder to ventilate a tractor properly for winter (vents well above roost level) because of the size/weight considerations, and it's always harder to make a tractor as secure as a stationary coop/run.

I have a stationary coop with an attached run, plus a day tractor so I can have the best of both worlds. It's quite easy to herd our chickens out into their day pen in the morning and back inside their stationary coop/run at night.

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