Whether you live out on a large acreage with a full suite of livestock or simply want to engage in a bit of urban husbandry, raising chickens is a growing trend. With relatively little care, these birds will provide fresh eggs and can even offer fertilizer for a small garden.
Of course, if you are going to raise chickens, you will need somewhere for them to sleep. While you can certainly build your own coop, that takes a fair bit of money, time, and handiness. Instead, prefabricated chicken coops offer a nice alternative.
Still, figuring out which one is right for you can be confusing. That is why we have put together a list of the 5 best chicken coops, highlighting the niche of each. Then we provide a helpful buyer’s guide, so you can find the best chicken coop to suit your needs.
Best Chicken Coop 2018
|Formex Snap Lock|
|SmithBuilt 7 ft.|
1. Formex Snap Lock Hen House – Best Plastic Chicken Coop
Formex has been around for a while. Since 1961, this company has worked with thermoformed plastic to produce a wide range of products that are both safe and durable. Though a relatively small company, Formex offers a surprising number of products that often have a rural or industrial slant to them. Beyond chicken coops, Formex also offers plastic duck blinds, deck floats, and work floats. For industrial purposes, they offer bore and duct spacers as well as transformer pads.
Having such a thorough background in both plastic and rural applications, it should not come as much of a surprise that the Formex is one of the best performing chicken coops we looked at. That said, there are some factors you must consider before choosing this chicken coop over its competitors. For instance, Formex is based out of Georgia and is unlikely to have to deal with the kinds of cold weather and shifts in temperature that more northern regions do. This is important because all plastics have a tendency to degrade when exposed to drastic temperature ranges – something likely to occur the further north you go, to a point.
That said, the plastic structure used by Formex does come with its own advantages as well. The primary advantage is that this is by far one of the most hygienic chicken coops we saw. Keep in mind, that does not necessarily make it the easiest to clean, though it is reasonably easy to clean.
Another benefit of Formex using plastic for their chicken coop comes with assembly. While none of the chicken coops we reviewed were especially difficult to assemble, most of them did require the use of a screwdriver – generally a power drill with a screwdriver bit. However, Formex uses the Snap Lock system requires no tools to assemble. Though you will still need a screwdriver to install the hardware, but that is a fairly easy task.
This chicken coop can come in two different sizes, though we definitely recommend the larger of the two. While the difference in price between the two sizes matches the capacity, the large Formex chicken coop comes with three roosts – the most out of any product on our list. This combined with the four nests – also the most on our list – provides plenty of room for four to six chickens and allows them to even squabble a bit without putting any chicken low on the pecking order at risk.
However, the Formex does come with a couple downsides. The biggest issue with this chicken coop is that it does not come with a runner. While you should generally allow your chickens to roam free when you can, the absence of a runner means they will be stuck inside their coop until you let them out. The other issue is that there is no way for light to get inside the coop. Since chickens lay eggs based on light cycles, this can lead to them laying fewer eggs during the winter months.
2. Pawhut Wooden Chicken Coop – Best All-Around Chicken Coop
Pawhut is not actually its own company but is instead one of many brands within the Aosom conglomerate lineup. Pronounced “awesome,” Aosom does not actually manufacture the products they sell but merely distributes them as a wholesale operation. This provides them a few benefits that they can pass on to the consumer, but it also carries with it a couple issues. The biggest windfall is that this is a reasonably priced chicken coop for some of the advantages it has over its competition.
The Pawhut chicken coop does have a number of qualities going for it. It is one of the few prefabricated chicken coops we reviewed which provides more than one roost. This is important for a couple reasons. Not only does it provide more room to house your sleeping chickens, but it also provides some flexibility for sleeping arrangements if one of your chickens does not get along with another.
That said, this chicken coop falls in line with many of the others that we saw in terms of nesting boxes. While the product advertises two nesting boxes, it really only provides a single nesting box with a removable divider. This is relevant because depending on the size and type of chicken you raise, the divided nesting box may not be large enough for them to comfortably lay eggs. If this is the case, then you are really left with a single, undivided nesting box that will be used.Still, your chickens will likely have an easier time laying eggs in this coop than in some of the others. This is because the Pawhut chicken coop has a window and a windowed door. Though the openings are covered with hardware cloth, they are still large enough to provide enough light such that the chickens will not suffer a disruption in their circadian laying cycle is common in more closed-in chicken coops.
One of the issues that come with being a wholesaler that does not manufacture their own products is that you often have to sell products made on a shoestring budget. This is likely the case with the Pawhut as the treated China Fir wood is fairly thin. On top of that, the various bits of hardware used are not that strong or durable leading many reviewers to wonder about the protection from predators this chicken coop truly affords.
3. Best Choice Products 80″ Wooden Chicken Coop – Best Small Chicken Coop
Best Choice Products, of BCP for short, is another company that does not actually manufacture most of their products. Instead, Best Choice Products works with manufacturers to provide wholesale prices for retail goods. Founded in 2002 to sell pool tables online, Best Choice Products quickly grew to include products for virtually every conceivable consumer niche. This business model serves Best Choice Products well as they are able to offer one of the least expensive prefabricated chicken coops we saw.
This chicken coop is actually a fair bit smaller than most of the others that follow this design model, though it does still offer an acceptable chicken run. The size of this chicken coop makes it suitable for only two to three chickens at a time. This limited space is further highlighted by the fact that this chicken coop only provides a single roost and a single nesting box that is divided into two. As such, you will need to make sure that your chickens get along with one another before buying this chicken coop or else they may fight with one another.
One glaring omission from this chicken coop is any kind of locking hardware on the lid to the nesting box. If you do not install a locking mechanism on your own, you will once again have to worry about predators getting into your chicken coop at night and either raiding your eggs or attacking your chickens. Though this chicken coop does provide a raised design, so the number of predators liable to reach the nesting box is lessened somewhat.
4. SmithBuilt 7 ft. Wooden Chicken Coop – Best Chicken Coop Design for Easy Cleaning
SmithBuilt Crates is a brand that specializes in manufacturing crates for a variety of animals. Founded in 2007 and headquartered in Florida, this company offers a wide variety of crating options in both wood and metal materials. In fact, this company provides a crate for a surprising number of species as well including rabbits as well as dogs. Of course, manufacturing their own chicken coops does mean that they ultimately cost a bit more than some of the other brands on our list.
Still, the SmithBuilt Crates chicken coop takes some of the common design features seen on other prefabricated chicken coops and goes a step further by adding their own twist that will ultimately make your job of caring for your chickens easier. Basically, this is the only chicken coop of this standard design that we reviewed which features a roof that can be opened from the top.
This chicken coop also offers some nice additional design features for ventilation and light as well. Specifically, this chicken coop it the only one we saw that has a window with hardware cloth covering it that can also be closed all the way. This provides your chickens the best of both worlds. Their coop will be well-ventilated and lit when weather permits, but it can also be shut up tighter is wind and rain blow through.
One thing that is a bit disappointing is the fact that this coop is nowhere near large enough to support the advertised number of chickens. This chicken coop is no larger than the other models which use a similar design. If this chicken coop had more than one roost and a single divided nesting box, that may be different. As stands now, however, this chicken coop is only appropriate for two to three chickens.
5. Petsfit Weatherproof Chicken Barn – Best Budget Chicken Coop
Petsfit has been in business for over a decade. They own their own factory and warehouse, which makes it all the more surprising that this is the least expensive chicken coop that we saw. They work around this additional overhead by selling exclusively through Amazon, eschewing the expensive costs of selling their products in traditional brick-and-mortar stores. Beyond chickens, Petsfit offers products for dogs, cats, and rabbits made out of both wood and fabric.
The Petsfit chicken coop is one of the few chicken coops we reviewed which does not feature a raised platform. Unlike the other ground-level chicken coops we saw, the wooden structure of this product does mean you will have to protect the floor with heavy-duty hardware cloth to prevent predators from digging up underneath the chicken coop. This also makes it one of the few chicken coops we reviewed that does not include a chicken run, so you will either have to provide that separately or let your chickens roam free.
This is another chicken coop which oversells its capacity, though not by quite as much as some. While you can fit three to four of the smallest species of chickens in this coop, most breeds of chicken will only be able to fit two to three. This is due to a couple factors. First, this chicken coop is a bit slimmer than many of the others we saw. It is also one of the many coops that only provides a single roost and a single, divided nesting area.
Some people have even gone the extra mile and installed a hinge system for the roof, though that must be done separately from the included materials and instructions.
6. Best Chicken Coop for 4, 6, 8, 10 Chickens (Bonus!)
Chicken Coop – Buyer’s Guide
This is one of the most important factors when it comes to selecting a chicken coop. The more chickens you have or the larger chickens you breed, the larger the coop you will need. However, many manufacturers will provide a capacity range that is based on a specific type of chicken – generally one of the smaller species.This can create a situation where you buy a chicken coop that is actually too small for your needs because you care for a larger breed of chicken than the manufacturer used to estimate the coop’s capacity. The size of the chicken coop will also impact whether or not you can install a feed and watering dispenser in the coop or whether it will have to be located outside.
Likely one of the main reasons that you want to raise chickens if for the free, fresh eggs. Healthier and more delicious than processed eggs you buy at the store, you need to make sure that your chicken has the necessary space to feel comfortable laying their eggs. If you do not, the chickens will merely lay them on the floor of the coop where they will become soiled by the chickens’ refuse.The important thing to remember about a nesting box is that it needs to be large enough for the chicken to feel comfortable. While chickens do not actually need much room to lay eggs, they will often feel more comfortable if they are not crammed into their nesting box.
Another consideration is that chickens can become territorial about nesting boxes. As such, it is always good to have more nesting boxes than you need, or else a dominant chicken may chase off the others from the claimed nesting box which often leads to them laying their eggs on the floor of the coop.
Roosts are where chickens sleep for the evening. A roost is generally just a length of wood or some other firm material that extends from one side of the chicken coop to the other. Sometimes, people will cover their roosts in a felt fabric so that the chicken’s feet stay warmer, but this can also lead to bacterial build-up if the felt is not changed out often.
Much like nesting boxes, roosts are also a bit dependent on the attitude of your chickens. The dominant chicken will likely choose a spot of the roost and fight other chickens for that spot. This is even more likely if the coop has multiple roosts set at different heights with the dominant chicken claiming a spot at the highest set roost.
That said, chickens are less likely to fight with one another for actual space on the roost. Unlike with nesting boxes, chickens do not require additional space to feel comfortable sleeping. In fact, a chicken only really needs about one square foot of space to comfortably sleep on a roost.
A chicken coop is designed to provide your chickens with a safe place to sleep and lay their eggs. It is not designed to be a pen that houses them twenty-four hours a day. Once your chickens wake up, they are going to want to stretch their legs and walk around. Of course, not every location affords the ability to give your chickens free roam.
In this instance, a chicken run can provide the chickens a place to walk around without allowing them to potentially wander off into a neighbor’s property. As a bonus, chicken runs also help keep the chickens safe from any wanders predators – though that is generally more a problem at night.
The three most common types of materials used for chicken coops are metal, wood, and plastic.
Of the three, metal is generally the least desired. While it is stronger than wood and plastic, metal does not insulate well and traps heat. It also is at risk of corrosion when exposed to the elements and does not ventilate that well. Though, corrugated steel roofs are desirable.
Wood is the standard material used for chicken coops. It is reasonably strong and can handle the elements fairly well. Depending on the thickness of the wood, you may need to treat it to prevent it from swelling too much during a rainstorm. Wood allows good ventilation and it also insulates reasonably well.
Plastic is the least common material used for chicken coops, but it is quickly becoming a popular one. It is fairly durable, though easily the least durable of the three. It does not breathe like wood, but neither will it suffocate during hot summer months like metal. The big draw for plastic, though, is that is can easily be disinfected and handles the elements extremely well – except for exceptionally cold climates.
Depending on where you live as well as the number and type of chickens you want to raise, one chicken coop will be better suited to your needs than another. While many of these chicken coops do have some issues with soft wood, they are generally still able to withstand the elements with a waterproofing stain.
If you are already familiar with raising chickens and need something with a bit more legroom, the Formex and Pawhut offer the best options here. Regardless the dimensions of some of the other chicken coops, the absence of more than one roost make them less ideal for more than two or three chickens.
Of course, if you only wish to raise a few chickens, the Best Choice and Petsfit are decent options at an excellent price point. The Best Choice does probably get the nod though because it comes with a runner and provides a safer, raised design.