Posted by Bonnie
Earlier this year our local Peavey Mart had a grand opening sale and put the Coops & Feathers Superior Hen House on at a deep discount. Until that point we had been considering building our own coop but (as always) time was in short supply, and we had a commitment to pick up 5 pullets very soon. We decided that at half price ($150) we could purchase two of these coops and combine them into a ‘super coop’ of sorts.
The first thing I want to point out is that we live in Manitoba where it is not impossible to reach extreme low temperatures of −40 °C (−40 °F) for a few days each winter. It is common for temperatures to hover around −18 °C (0 °F) for weeks on end – And these temperatures are before we take wind effect into account. These coops are not designed for being kept outside, unsheltered in this climate. We planned to overwinter them in our attached garage to keep the chickens out of the wind, with warmer indoor temperatures (about -10 °C to -15 °C) and to make chicken chores easier for us!
The Coops & Feathers Superior Hen House comes more or less assembled – All of the hard work is done. All you need to do is attach the pieces together. We found that the instructions were clear and easy to follow and that with two people, it doesn’t take more than an hour to assemble. The pieces fit well together. There are three nesting boxes and two roosts.
Comfortably you could fit 4-5 full grown hens, but the run can only reasonably accommodate 2-3 hens once a feeder and water container are taken into consideration (never mind grit or a calcium supplement and their associated containers).
I would consider this coop to be just for sleeping, with the run opened to allow the birds either into a larger run or to free range for the day. There is access to the nesting boxes at the back of the coop allowing you to collect eggs and the latch on that compartment seems substantial enough. The nesting box compartment has a wooden stick which can be used to prop the lid up while cleaning / collecting eggs.There is a ladder to allow the birds to enter and exit their sleeping area comfortably, but after only a week the paint began to scratch off so maintenance on that will certainly be required – It would have been preferable to have an untreated ladder.
The paint on the ladder is the same paint as on the coop. It has a matte, almost primer like appearance and feel. So far it is holding up ok (outside of the ladder) but I don’t think it will last more than a few summers. There is an opening into the roosting area but there is no door. A door would keep the chickens too confined as the coop itself is very small, but this is certainly an issue in cooler climates for winter drafts as well as a possible predator issue. The ‘superior hen house’ has ventilation panels on either side of the roosting area (which seems unnecessary because of the lack of door) and one side opens up completely allowing access.
There is a pull out tray for cleaning the bedding, and two different access points into the run that you can use to place food and water.
One thing that we noticed was that the wood felt very flimsy. The chickens are protected inside the lower (and very tiny) run with hardware mesh on the sides only but it felt to us like the wood could be cracked off the latches and the coop breached without much effort from a predator. The assembled coop is also very light weight, so with minimal digging I figure a large dog could probably push it up and either tip it over or gain entry. The other big issue we had was during a day of long and heavy rain. The seam where the nesting box lid lifts is not even close to being water tight, and doesn’t have any kind of weatherstripping or flashing. The bedding in the coop was soaked after that day, and on subsequent rains. Another spot that leaks is where the bedding tray pulls out. I don’t think this bothers our hens because it blows in at the bottom and wets the bedding, while they are up on the roost. Still, something worth mentioning. I would prefer not to have the pull out tray in favour of less gaps and cracks.
And a word about the pull out tray – It is so warped that I can’t pull it out now anyway.
The wood seems to have warped a bit on the door openings as well, and now it takes some finessing to close the large opening at the end of the coop.
Ok, quick recap:
- Price. Even at full price, it’s decent value when you consider the cost of materials and time / expertise required to replicate it yourself.
- It has an easy to access nesting box area making egg collection easy
- Pull out litter tray is handy (when it works)
- Multiple entry points for people to place food and water, or allow chickens out of the run
- Ventilation windows on both sides of the roosting area
- Wood felt flimsy and integrity might be an issue if you’re planning on moving it around, or if encountered by a predator
- There is no floor in the run which makes it susceptible to predators
- The nesting box area seems oversized for the number of birds the coop can comfortably hold
- There is no pop door, leaving the interior drafty on cold days
- Potential for leaks when raining
- Removable waste tray and multiple ventilation points are handy features but are very drafty in the cold
For the price that we paid I would say it was great value – As a temporary accommodation until we could build something to better suit our needs. That said, if you were planning on keeping two hens in a more temperate, urban setting in which they would have an opportunity for some free ranging, this might be just the coop for you. I would caution anyone in Canada from purchasing this coop unless it was to be kept inside a larger structure like a shed, barn or garage for the winter. Draft, damp and frostbite will certainly be issues, as the coop offers literally no protection from winter weather and it’s many handy access points welcome drafts and moisture.
So far this has been working for us (with some modifications). We did decide to build a permanent coop after all for a few reasons, at first because we wanted to be able to use the garage for parking in the winter and not worry about carbon monoxide or exhaust poisoning our ladies. Then it became apparent that more space was needed because what started as 5 pullets turned into 20 and a rooster very quickly! While we are building our permanent coop and we plan to keep at least one of these coops to use whenever we get new birds – We can set it up inside the large run and allow the flock to get used to the new additions for an extended period this way.