This year, we decided to get some chickens for eggs. Our household goes through four dozen eggs a week. I live in the middle of nowhere, New York, so why not? (I know; it's not normal, but neither are we!)
So, a couple of weeks ago, we got six baby chickens. Their names are: Chirpy, Tweedy, Pecky, Stripes, Omega, and Baby Chicken. Can you guess which on the two year old named? :)
So, we invested in these gold beauties and needed to find a place for them to reside. I figured it would be easy, because this whole "backyard chicken" thing has been going on for quite some time now. Everyone's got this figured out and it will be as easy as pie getting ready for "the girls" to come home. Boy, was I wrong. Maybe I'm wired the wrong way or something, but I found it incredibly difficult to sift through the information out there about finding a good affordable chicken coop for six hens. I researched by looking through websites, forums, blogs, social media, eBooks, books, store literature. I also spoke with several "real-life" chicken keepers. However, it was not easy finding the perfect-fit chicken coop for our house.
The first obstacle I hit was that most of the "pre-fab" coops that I found were for 2 to 4 hens. O.K., here's what I don't get. If you go to Tractor Supply (which I'm guessing a ton of us do, because where else would normal (non farmer) people go to buy chickens?), the minimum amount of chickens you can buy is SIX. Hasn't any marketer picked up on that yet? On website after website, I thought I found the perfect coop for our hens and our budget and then upon further research, I found it only held up to 4 chickens. Ugh!
(Incidentally, if you are just starting your research, most of the online sources for chickens require that you buy a minimum order of 12 or 15 chickens. Otherwise, you have to pay $13 to $20 per pellet (a day old hen), verses paying $3 per pullet at the store. Six chickens for the price of one...Yes, please!)
What to do? Obviously, it was going to take some digging to find the right solution. So, I came up with a list of my must-haves and used that to help me purchase the perfect coop for my girls. Here's the list:
My Must Have List for The Backyard Chicken Coop
- Price tag under $500. (Preferably, well under $500.)Are there chicken coops out there for more than 4 hens? Yes. Are there chicken coops out there for 6 hens for under $500? The answer is yes, but they are few and far between. To me, $500 seems a bit excessive for a "pet project." Maybe $500 or more is fine with you. If so, go for it. I'm sure you are going to be able to find a bunch of coops that are both functional and look great in your backyard. :)
- Comes Fully Assembled or is Easy to Put Together
If I am paying over $100 for anything, I better be able to put it together. While I'm no engineer, I'm no stranger to tools putting things together.
- Needs to Look Good In the Backyard
I was looking for something that is going to look good in my back yard, but also be functional.
- Has a Small Run Included With It
I wanted a coop with a bit of a run attached to it, so I didn't always have to have the chickens running about in the yard. My husband is a landscaper, and he has no interest in letting the lawn go, just for a few dozen fresh eggs each week.
- Needs to Have Nesting Boxes and Roosts for the Hens
This is self-explanatory, I think. The girls need a place to put those eggs, so the nesting boxes are essential. For six hens, I read that two or three nesting boxes would be the right amount. (Sometimes the hens lay at the same time.) In terms of the roosts, the hens like to sleep off of the ground. Who could blame them?
- Needs to Be Off the Ground for the Long, Winter Months
I didn't read this anywhere, it is just something that I was looking for in a coop. This winter was a tough one on most of the country and here in western New York, we got a lot of snow. I was looking for something that I could keep dug out, if necessary. If the coop rested on the ground, I think it would be more difficult for me to keep up with the snow. This is just a personal preference though, along with a pitched roof. A flat roof this year would have been a disaster. (At one point this winter, my husband shoveled close to four feet of snow off of our home's roof.)
- Needs to Be Secure When Locked Up
I think this is true any where, but I want to make sure the critters stay away from my girls. We live adjacent to 30 acres of untouched woods. We have coyotes, foxes, hawks, weasels, bear, and also sorts of other critters sharing the space around our house. While I wouldn't trade my neighbors for the human variety, I still want to make sure they don't take advantage of my birds. :)
So, here's what I found out through my research...
In terms of the under $500 price tag, I found some really nice looking ones through Etsy, like TheSmartChickenCoop store's DYI Chicken Coop kit. For $375, they will ship this kit to me (your shipping charges might be different than the $75 they would charge me to ship to NY). However, you would still need to buy some more supplies for this to work about $40 to $70 more. So, this one didn't fit my needs.
Next, I thought, "Well, maybe I could make my own..." So, I started researching Pinterest and Google for DIY Chicken Coops. Believe it or not, most of those plans were for coops for up to four chickens too! Then when I dug deeper, I got sucked into the never-ending loop of some guy selling chicken coop plans. I definitely didn't want to put out any money for plan, when I wasn't sure what they would look like.
I just wanted someone to show me what they did. When I finally found a free plan that I liked, I sifted through the comments and found out the coop cost over $1000 to build. Whoa! "Too rich for my blood," I thought. Not only that, most of the DIY plans that I found seemed to be written by people who clearly know a thing or too about carpentry. I needed the Easy-Peasy Pants plans; I didn't have any luck finding one of those.
So, I went back in search of a "pre-fab" plan and I finally found what I wanted. I changed my search to chicken coop for 6-8 hens on Amazon and found this coop: the Advantek Terrace Poultry Hutch.
|The Advantek Terrace Poultry Hutch|
I went over my listed several times and realized this is the perfect chicken coop for us. While it doesn't come fully assembled, it comes with all of the pieces, and no tools are required to put it together. It was affordable and came in under the $500 budget. With shipping, this coop cost $405. It has two nesting boxes (which we might expand in the future--I will keep you posted if we do). It has a small run on either side of the "house."
Say "hello" to our new chicken's home. I will post an update when the girls move in. :) In the meantime, please let me know if you have any questions or if you found a perfect home for your 6 hens.
Labels: backyard chickens, Chicken coop 6-8 chickens, chicken coop plans, finding a chicken coop, healthy living