Hi everyone, this post is going to be a little bit different than my normal posting. I have received a lot of questions from my readers inquiring what chicken coops are best, prefab coops or hand build coops. For those who are not familiar with what a prefab coop is allow me to explain. When I refer to prefab coops I am talking about coops that you see in farm stores, such as Tractor Supply or Rural King just to name a few. They come in boxes and require assembly which is very simple only needing a screw driver and a little elbow grease.
Many chicken keepers do not like them and recommend that new comers build their own coop. I for one am of a differing opinion. I built my first coop and I added 4 prefab coops later. I will say that I love the prefab coops and that they make very viable options for those who cannot build a coop for various reasons whether they be financial, physical limitation, or conceptual reasons. Woodworking and carpentry is not for everyone, it is hard work and can be very expensive and dangerous especially if you have never worked with wood before. So to those who want chickens and hear the “if you don’t build the coop its not a coop” rhetoric this post if for you. This is the story of my journey in both building a coop and owning prefabs. I hope that it helps.
I built my first coop, the Kuntry Klucker. I love my big coop but I will say it was the hardest most dangerous project that I undertook. I was new to chickens and followed the advice of more experienced keepers, one of which was don’t buy a prefab coop build your own. Not knowing much this is what I did. I found through this endeavor that I have no business using power tools. I nearly killed myself twice and spent $1500 more than I had intentionally set out to spend. After I cut the wood too short or at wrong angels it got expensive. I realized that this was really bad advice that I followed from more experienced chicken keepers. I had never built anything before, so this was my first and last experience with wood working and carpentry in general.
So how did I come to love prefab coops. Well, as the saying goes you cannot have just one. I fell in love with chickens and wanted more. I knew from my past experience that building my coop was a suicide mission so I looked elsewhere. I began to entertain the thought of prefab coops against the better judgement of other poultry keepers. The fact was simple, I cannot build a coop so I had to seek out other options.
To start I read reviews, most will say something like this, “it looks good but the quality is poor”. This is a general across the board review that you will see for a prefab coop. Don’t let this bother you, the coops given a little love will do just fine. Anyway, knowing this I ordered one with a plan in mind. When it arrived I put it together and was actually shocked at how well it was made. Drawing from my experience from my coop building disaster I updated the hardware cloth, updated the latches, and gave the wood a good coat of barn paint followed by a good water seal. The results were stunning!!! Not only did I not kill myself building this “kit coop”, (all I needed was a screwdriver inserted of a power saw), but after I made my adjustments is held up well, and I mean well! I live in the steamy south of East Tennessee. We get hot summers with lots of humidity, nasty spring storms, and ice storms in the winter. Mother Nature throws it all at us. Through this my prefab coops have held up very well. I do touch up the paint about every other year, the hardware cloths and latches are still fine.
After my experience with my first prefab coop which now has 5 years under its belt, I ordered more as my flocks grew. I now have 5 coops currently in operation, 4 of them are prefab coops. I have not had any predators get into my prefab coop, nor have I had any problems with the wood rotting (hence the paint and water seal). The Roofs hold up well and the durability of the structures have withstood everything mother nature has thrown at it thus far. I can honestly say that it would take a disasterous weather event to tear them down such a tornado or derecho. But if I get a tornado here I will have much more to worry about than just damage to my prefab coops. Additionally, I have them insured under my homeowners property damage clause. I will just put them in with all the other things we need replaced should we have to deal with a disastrous weather event.
So this is my story, I learned from experience that building your own coop as many suggest is just not feasible for everyone. I did it and nearly killed myself, I will never build a coop from scratch again. I have enough experience with prefab coops to honestly recommend them as a viable options for others who cannot or do not know how to built a chicken coop. They are a very good option. I will say that I will only get mine from Tractor Supply or a local co-op. Reason being… if it arrived damaged (so far none of mine have) they will replace or exchange it for me. If I order from Amazon it’s a bit harder to get an exchange on such a large item. That would be my only advice. Prefab coops are great, but get it from TSC, Rural King, or local co-op that stocks them. If you have problems you can get help.
I am a small voice with respect to prefab chicken coops in particular. But I like to think that my experience and opinions will help others understand that there are other options and that prefab coops can and do make great homes for your chickens.
Several years on from the original publication of this article my prefab coops are doing great, I have even added several more! To see the updated version of “Prefab Vs, Hand-Built Coops”, please click here.
To take a virtual tour of my Backyard “Coop-Hood” please visit my youtube challenge by clicking here.
I have also added more tips and hacks to increase the longevity of prefab coops.
Thanks for reading. Till next time keep on crowing.
~ The Kuntry Klucker Crew ~