In search of the best coop

LisaR720

Chirping
Jan 30, 2018
29
44
51
Houlton, Maine
Good morning all!
I am new to the chicken world. I have my chicks coming at the end of April. My question for you all ...I live in Northern Maine, I am trying to figure our which coop is the best for the money. I will have 6 birds....Any help would be so appreciated!
 

sylviethecochin

Free Ranging
Jun 14, 2017
5,499
11,305
701
Central PA
The folks on BYC generally agree--prefab coops suck. Since I've never bought one, I can't recommend one, but I can provide some education that I hope's helpful.

If you're handy at all, you can probably make one for less money and more utility. There are a lot of recipes in the coops articles section. (Here's a link to the small ones.)

If you do choose to buy a coop, here are a few (hopefully helpful) tips--
  • No matter what the manufacturer says, it's 4 sq feet per hen min. in the coop. NOT one.
  • The coops are made of junk wood, more often than not. If you can find a plastic one and anchor it, or a (treated) hardwood one from a wood shop, it should last a lot longer.
  • Perches should have at least a foot of length per hen, and should not be too close to the ceiling or the wall. Hens don't like being crushed.
  • Especially in a cold climate, you need good winter airflow. That means that the damp air and ammonia buildup near the top should be able to escape.
  • Walk-in coops are always better. Maybe they're not as cute, but they're far more easy to clean.

You need about 6' x 4' or 5' by 5', maybe more, especially since you live in a cold climate. Chickens that are cooped up in the same space all winter get bored and fight, and they all need a bit of space at times.

Your run should be 10 sq feet per chicken.

@aart has some really good articles on ventilation, as previously mentioned, it's important to remove build-up in the coop without chilling the chickens. (ammonia causes breathing problems, and moisture causes frostbite.)

Good luck!
 

coach723

Free Ranging
6 Years
Feb 12, 2015
6,662
11,145
611
North Florida
FOR THE MONEY you are best off building your own. To get a good quality prebuilt you are going to spend a LOT of money. Most of the prefabs are not made well and will not last long in the elements, they way over estimate the bird capacity they will actually hold which will likely cause problems down the road. Since you are in Maine and they may have to be inside a lot in the winter you need to ensure that they have adequate space. Most info will tell you that you need 4 square feet of coop space per bird and 10 square feet of outdoor run per bird. That is a MINIMUM starting point, and I would recommend that you go bigger. Space considerations depend on climate, personalities of birds, whether they free range or not, are you going to have a rooster(s) or not. Predator proofing is really important and if you do it at the beginning it will save you heartbreak. Adequate ventilation is also really important, for air quality and to prevent frostbite. Do some searching for coops, look at a lot, make a list of must haves for you, and then find something that encompasses those things. Some people convert sheds into chicken coops, which can be pretty economical to do. My must haves were a large clean out door on the coop, and the ability to stand up inside the coop and the enclosed run, which makes everything so much easier.
 
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PirateGirl

Chicken Lover, Duck Therapist
Mar 11, 2017
7,203
18,537
632
South Park, Colorado, USA
Also if you are looking at coops online sometimes it's hard to find the actual dimensions. Often the dimensions listed are the whole thing, coop plus attached run. You may need to go to the manufacturer website or the "specifications" section to find the dimensions of just the coop part. The coop is the fully enclosed house, the run would be any fully fenced area attached to the coop. As mentioned the coop/house part should allow for 4 square feet of floor space per chicken.
 

Patinas

Songster
Mar 22, 2017
456
501
157
Washington
I looked for a long time for a good pre-fab coop and could not find one. I ended up building one that I'm very happy with because it has all the features I wanted that I couldn't find in prefabs...including size!

Pre-fabs for 6 chickens pretty much doesn't exist unless you're going to build your own add-on run. Chickens appreciate space and space makes for a much happier flock.
 

PirateGirl

Chicken Lover, Duck Therapist
Mar 11, 2017
7,203
18,537
632
South Park, Colorado, USA
The best "pre-fab" coops I have seen, in terms of quality, size, and the most bang for your buck, actually were coops that someone local built. There are people out there that specialize in building chicken coops and understand the needs and do a great job. Consider searching Craigslist, your state Facebook poultry group, as well as your state thread on BYC for someone who can provide this service. You may even find someone who will deliver it or build on site. It's not exactly easy to move a big coop to your property yourself depending on man-power and the vehicle you own.
 

Smuvers Farm

Melvin Up the Taterhole
Feb 16, 2017
4,917
23,227
872
TN/Western KY Border
:welcome:celebrate

Glad you're here !

A must have for your poultry is a FIRST AID KIT for any issues that would arise. (https://www.backyardchickens.com/threads/suggestions-for-a-first-aid-kit.1150128/)
It's definitely better to have it and not need it rather than need it and not have it.

Also, make sure your coop(s) have a proper amount of VENTILATION. (https://www.backyardchickens.com/ar...-there-and-cut-more-holes-in-your-coop.47774/) Your chickens will absolutely thank you for it!

One last thing, if you're into gardening, feel free to join this years SEED SWAP (https://www.backyardchickens.com/threads/seed-swap.1220129/)
 

LisaR720

Chirping
Jan 30, 2018
29
44
51
Houlton, Maine
I looked for a long time for a good pre-fab coop and could not find one. I ended up building one that I'm very happy with because it has all the features I wanted that I couldn't find in prefabs...including size!

Pre-fabs for 6 chickens pretty much doesn't exist unless you're going to build your own add-on run. Chickens appreciate space and space makes for a much happier flock.
I think after everything we decided to build a coop. I do want one that I can walk into. Where is the best place to find plans?
 

MANNA-PRO

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