Prefab Coops, A Worthwhile Option.

In this post I will discuss a hot topic within the backyard chicken community. It’s a topic that is important, examining both side of the debate offers much in-depth knowledge. In this post I will examine the topic of Prefab Vs. Hand-built coops. Showing that prefab coops can and do make very viable options for your chickens.

Many chicken keepers do not like prefab coops, they recommend that newcomers build their own coop. I for one am of a differing opinion. I built my first coop then added 5 prefab coops later. I will say that I love prefab coops, they make viable options for those who cannot build a coop for various reasons whether be it financial, physical limitation, or conceptual. Wood working and carpentry is not for everyone, its a skill that requires hard work, training and can be very expensive. It can also be very dangerous if you have never worked with wood or high powered tools before.

This is the story of my journey in both building a coop and owning prefabs. It’s my intention to help others who are not craftsman or builders to put your mind at ease with respect to prefab 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 your see in farm stores, such as Tractor Supply or Rural King to name a few. They come in large boxes and require assembly which is very simple only requiring a screw driver, a partner and a little elbow grease. Above I have pictured three of my largest prefab coops that I purchased from Tractor Supply (The TARDIS, Henwarts, and Hyrule). I will formally introduce you to all these coops a little later in this post.

I built my first coop, The Kuntry Klucker 10 years ago. I love my big coop but I will say that it was the hardest most dangerous project I ever undertook. I was new to chickens and followed the advice from more experienced keepers, which was “don’t buy a coop, build your own”. Not knowing much, that is what I did. I found out through this endeavor that I have no business using power tools. I nearly killed myself several times and spend $1000 more than I had intentionally set out to spend. After I cut the wood too short or at wrong angles, adding to that two trips to an Urgent Care Center, it got expensive. I realized that this was really bad advice that I followed from my more experienced chicken keeper counterparts. Up till that point I had no experience with wood working or carpentry in general.

So, how did I come to love prefab coops you may be asking. Well, as the saying goes, “you can’t have just one”. I fell in love with chickens and wanted more. I knew from my past experience that building my own coop was a suicide mission, so I began looking 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 and little love will do just fine. Anyway, knowing this I ordered my first prefab with a plan in mind. When it arrived I put it together and was actually shocked at how well it was made. Drawing from the experience from my coop building disaster, I made a few adjustments. I updated the hardware cloth, the latches and gave the wood a good coat of barn and fence paint followed by a quality water seal. The results were stunning!! Not only did I not kill myself building the “kit coop” (all I needed was a screwdriver instead of a power saw) but after I made my adjustments it held up well, I mean really well! I live in the steamy south of East Tennessee. We get hot summers with lots of humidity, nasty spring storms, and ice in the winter. Mother Nature throws it all at us. Through all of this my prefab coops have held up very well. I do touch up the paint every other year, the hardware cloth and latches are still fine.

After the experience with my first prefab coop which now has 5 years under its belt, I ordered more as my flock grew.

I now have 9 coops currently in operation, 7 of them are prefab coops. I have not had any predators get into my prefab coops nor have I had any problems with the wood rotting (hence the water seal). The roof holds up well and the durability of the structures have withstood everything Mother Nature has thrown at them. I can honestly say that it would take a disastrous weather event to tear them down such as a tornado or derecho. If I get a tornado or other high wind event here I will have more to worry about than just damage to my prefab coops. Additionally, I have them insured under my homeowners property damage clause. If we experience a disastrous weather event I will just put them in with all the other things that we need replaced should this unlikely situation actually occur.

Allow me to introduce you to the 6 prefab coops that call The Kuntry Klucker Farm home.

First came Roy’s Roost and Betsy’s Bliss. These two coops, (the smallest of all my coops) are situated in my spice and herb garden. Roy’s Roost was purchased to use as a hospital coop and hatch out coop. I use it for other purposes but these two are most predominate.

Betsy’s Bliss is my broody breaker. It is only big enough for one hen. The upper compartment is the coop area where food and water is kept, its also where the resident roosts at night. Below is the pen area. This coop is only used to restore a broody hen back to her normal behavior. Stints in Betsy’s Bliss are usually short lived. After a short stay in Betsy’s Bliss the resident is granted parole pending good behavior.

Next, and the first of my large prefab coops is Hyrule. This coop belongs to my youngest son. Hyrule houses White Crested Polish Bantams and Frizzle Cochin Bantams. After witnessing the durability of this large prefab coop, my chicken addiction really took off.

The next prefab coop to join the backyard “coop-hood” was the TARDIS.

Belonging to my eldest son and home to Bantam Silkies, the TARDIS was the next large prefab coop to land in the backyard. My son is a huge Dr. WHO fan and wanted to paint and name his coop after the TARDIS and characters in the series. His artistic skills really made this “Time And Relative Dimension In Space” machine come to life. I was concerned that due to its height that it would be easily knocked over in strong winds. To my surprise it has held up remarkably well, surviving several very rough spring seasons. The TARDIS is 4 years old and still holding up very well. Even after being battered by several severe spring seasons it is showing no signs of slowing down.

The final large prefab coop to be added to the “coop-hood” is Henwarts.

Henwarts was added spring of 2018 and has so far survived several hails storms and a few ice storms. Henwarts is home to Silver Lace Wyondottes and Lavender Orpingtons. Painted the colors of the Ravenclaw house at Hogwarts, all the residents are named after characters from the “Harry Potter” series.

This spring (April 2020) we added one more coop to our coop-hood. A medium size coop bearing the name “Curisable” this Dalek chook interplanetary ship belongs to my eldest son. Along with the TARDIS, the Crusible is home to 4 Silkie breeding roosters.

Now that I have introduced you to all the prefab coops that call the Kuntry Klucker Farm home, allow me to tell you how I preserve these coops for long lasting value.

How to extend the life of a prefab coop.

Just like everything else in life, a prefab coop needs maintenance. Here are some hacks that I have discovered along the way that resulted in the longevity and durability of my prefab coops.

1. Grounding: Make sure to set the prefab coop on large outdoor treated lumber planks. It is important to make sure that the prefab coop does not touch the ground. I am sure that it would be fine, but I like to raise my prefab coops off the ground a little bit. I set them on large outdoor treated landscaping 4×4’s or 4×6’s. These large heavy pieces of lumber serve as a buffer between the ground and the coop. Then with 4” deck screws I secure the coop to these large timbers of wood. Although my prefab coops have held up well on their own this adds a bit more stability to the coop. Furthermore, this insures that the coop is well grounded and will better withstand strong winds.

2. Latches: Prefab coops come with latches installed, I have found that they do suffice for the purpose intended but I like to add a bit more security to my coops. Typically, I will add several more latches to the coops for added security. Most prefab coops come with barrel latches, I like to replace or add to these latches predator proof latches. Below is a photo of my preferred latching mechanism that I use on all my coops.

3. Paint: Prefab coops come painted but only with a primer or wood stain. Be sure to fully paint your prefab coops with a quality outdoor oil-based or latex paint. Then follow with a top coat or water seal appropriate for the paint you used. This will aid in the life expectancy of the wood. I touch up or repaint my prefab coops about every other year depending on the need. In doing so I have never had an issue with the painted wood rotting.

4. Hardware Cloth: Prefab coops do come with hardware cloth already attached to the coop and pen sections. I like to add another layer for my own peace of mind. This is probably not necessary since the hardware cloth that comes on the coops is a heavy gauge. I also make sure that I add a few more staples to insure that the hardware cloth stays on.

With these 4 simple adjustments and additions, my prefab coops have held up just as well as the coop I built 10 years ago.

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. Since I discovered prefab coops, I will never build one from scratch again.

I have enough experience with prefab coops that I can honestly recommend them as a viable option for others who cannot or do not have the skills necessary to build a chicken coop. In my opinion they are a worth while option.

I will add to this that I will only purchase my coops from Tractor Supply or a local CO-OP. Reason being…if it arrives damaged (so far none of mine have) they will replace or exchange it for me. If I order from Amazon it would be harder to return it to the store. Prefab coops are great, but get them from TSC, Rural King or other reputable local co-ops in your area that stock them. If you have problems you are not far from help.

I know that I am a small voice with respect to prefab coops in particular. But I like to think that my experience will help others understand that there are other options and that prefab coops can and do make great homes for your girls.

To take a virtual tour of my “Coop-Hood” please visit my youtube cannel by clicking here.

If you have any questions about prefab coops please post them in the comments. I will get back to you as soon as I can.

As always, thanks for reading. Till next time, keep on crowing!

~ The Kuntry Klucker Crew ~

 

Welcome to Henwarts!

Hello everyone, I know its been a while since I posted a blog. Some of you have reached out to me to make sure all is well. I want to say how much I appreciate your concern and thank you for caring. We are all fine, the girls are good and we are looking forward to spring and nicer weather. This past winter has been a tough one, between snow, frigid temperatures and lately the torrential unrelenting rains it has been a tough season.

I am sure that many of you have read or heard in the headlines about all the rains that the southern part of the United States has received, well this is us. It has rained here the entire month of February, even into March we are still dealing with wash out weather. Our home and the girls coops have luckily been spared. The only damage we sustained from the heavy rains was to one of our cars which had to make a visit to the shop. Not because we drove through high water but for other moisture related reasons due to the constant heavy rain. Anyway, it has been a trying time for us here at the Kuntry Klucker Farm. They girls are doing fine, all are still alive and well, looking forward to dryer weather and warmer conditions.

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The girls and I have a full on case of spring fever, with the grass greening up and the spring bulbs pushing through the ground we cannot help but look forward to better days. With that being said, if there is one thing that spring means here at the Kuntry Klucker Farm its chicks!! That’s right, the girls are going to be welcoming new neighbors to their yard.

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But before we get to the chicks, let talk about the new coop that is being erected on our farm. The “Big Girls” are used to the yearly constriction that takes place on the Kuntry Klucker Farm, they know what it means. But the Bantams that we added a few years ago and last year are new to the routine. They don’t know what it means yet but they soon will. Needless to say I had lot of help getting the new coop set up.

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As all coop construction begins, I make a timely visit to my local Tractor Supply Store. This years addition is an Innovation Pet Deluxe Farm House Coop. I have several kit coops on my property, my favorite brands is Innovation Pet. They do such a great job in coop design and place a lot of care into the durability of their products. This is my third Innovation Pet coop purchased from Tractor Supply.

During the months of March and April Tractor Supply has their “Chick Days” sale. This is when chicks appear in their stores along with coops and in the case of this purchase mark downs. I purchased this coop for $160, it was half off, so I was needless to say thrilled to get this quality coop at such a steal.

Anyway, as all coop projects begin, the unboxing. Typically as we unbox the coop we place the coop portions on one side of the yard and the pen portions on the other side of the yard. Next comes inspections. The girls and I look at each piece to make sure that they all look good and no improvements are needed before assembly.

Here the “Big Girls” are making sure that the new addition passes a rigorous pecking inspection process. They Bantam Crew does their own inspection, but since they are newer to the scene they are not too sure what to look for. They are a bit more cautious but are curious nonetheless.  Two of my White Chested Polishes, Aphrodite and Athena are taking a look at the new coop under construction.

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As the sections come together, we get more inspectors throughout the process. Several hours later, the project is complete and our new addition is placed in the “coop-hood” here on the Kuntry Klucker Farm.

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This coop will be the fancy new digs for 8 Black Australorp Chickens. The Australorps are a new breed that I am introducing this year to the Kuntry Klucker Farm. I have wanted this particular breed for several years and am just now finally getting around to adding them to the existing flock consisting of Buff Orphingtons, White Crested Polishes, Silkies, and Cochins. These girls are the stars of egg laying. The record holder for the most eggs laid in a single year belongs to an Australorp. These are large birds that have beautiful black plumage, black legs, and stunning red combs. I am thoroughly excited to add these black beauties to my backyard flock.

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The name of this coop will be “Henwarts” after one of my favorite book series, Harry Potter. Since I am a Ravenclaw as depicted by the qualities the houses exhibited, the coop will be painted blue and silver the colors associated with the Ravenclaw house. This is also fitting for a group of chickens to be in a coop painted the colors of the Ravenclaw house at Hogwarts. The Black Australorps will look absolutely stunning in this coop once everything is complete.

As for the chicks themselves. They arrive next week, I will of course be back with a post from the brooder after they arrive. So once again the chicken adventure continues and grows as we add a few more girls to the Backyard Divas here at the Kuntry Klucker Farm.

I hope that you enjoy this post. Once again I am so sorry for the lack of posts, but as we move into spring there will be a lot of share with you. I will be back soon with pics of the chicks once they are situated in the brooder. Their little lives will be captured here for you to see and enjoy.

Till next time, keep on crowing! See you soon!

~ The Kuntry Klucker Crew ~

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The TARDIS has landed!!

Hello again everyone!!! The girls and I have been doing well, trying to survive mud season here on the Kuntry Klucker farm. That annoying season between winter and spring, with all the rain we have had it is hard to keep up. Hopefully here in a few weeks we will start to dry out and begin getting the gardens ready for spring planting. In the meantime though we have been up to another coop project. That is right, the Kuntry Klucker Crew once again gets new neighbors. Allow me to introduce to you the TARDIS! For those of you who are Dr. Who fans you know very well what the TARDIS is. For those not so familiar, it stands for Time And Dimension In Space. On our farm here its Time And Dimension In Space chicken style!

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This coop is for my son. I have two little Kuntry Kluckers one of which has been bitten by the addictive chicken bug. We are huge Dr. Who fans so we looked around to find a coop that could best resemble a TARDIS. We lucked out and found this beautiful design at our local Tractor Supply. The girls of this coop will all be named after Dr. Who companions, the boys will be named Strax and Hydroflax. The Kuntry Klucker Crew as always are very curious about anything that comes into the backyard the Bantam Boutique crew as well. So once again we add one more coop to our little coop neighborhood here at the Kuntry Klucker farm.

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This was by far the most complex of coops that we have put together. It took three of us working for 4 hours to finally bring the TARDIS to life. It is a very solid and heavy coop so I am confident that like the Bantam Boutique, it will handle whatever mother nature throws its way. So, once again the girls get to watch the construction of yet another coop in their coop-hood paradise.

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The box containing the coop was massive. It took up the entire bed of a large pickup truck to get it here. Since this coop weighs upwards of 150 pounds, we opened the box on the drive way and carried it to the backyard piece by piece for construction. Due to the enormity of this coop I had to keep the Kuntry Klucker and the Bantam Botique Crew in their pens for their safely. From inside their pens there were very attendive to what was going on around them. We were serenaded by Enigma who through his crowing let us know that we were being heavily supervised.

Once we hauled the coop piece by piece to the backyard construction began on the TARDIS.

Whenever I put a new coop together I make sure that I have a good quality heavy weed fabric under the coop. This keeps mud from taking over the runs when it rains and gives a good base to lay sand in the pens. It also has the added benefit of keeping weeds from growing around the coop. It’s not anything that  has to be done by any means, it is just a little extra thing that I add for the comfort of my girls.

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Four hours later, construction of the TARDIS was complete. It stands at the highest of 6 feet. I can easily walk into the coop and have a little room to spare. We really like the walk-in design and I am sure they girls will too since we will be able to visit them in their coop. The walk-in design will also make it easier to clean, which my little Kuntry Klucker will be responsible for.

Now that the coop is constructed the fun begins. Like all my coops I make sure that I put a good layer of mulch around them. This keep mud and weeds down plus affords me the ability to plant herbs around the coop and pen. The herbs are two fold, one I use a lot of herbs in my cooking and since most bugs don’t like herbs they are natural deterrent keeping bugs away from my girls. Its not full proof but it does offer some deterrent to insects. That combined with keeping the coop and pen clean really goes a long way.

After enclosing the outdoor run area in chicken wire and a little white picket fence for decoration and laying mulch its ready to be chicken tested. The chicken wire is to keep the Big Girls out of the Silkie pens while keeping the Silkies contained in their run area. Since the TARDIS Crew is so much smaller than the Kuntry Klucker Crew I have to take precautions to reduce injury. The TARDIS Crew loves their new digs.

Looks like the 4 current residents love their new digs! This coop will house 9 Silkie Bantams. I have 4 right now, the other 5 will arrive in May. After they new clutch gets to be the size of these guys I will begin to introduce them to their new digs and TARDIS companions. The Bantam Boutique has new neighbors!!

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Enigma is not too fond of the neighbors yet. He is still trying to get his little mind wrapped around the fact that their is a new coop next door. But in the meantime its really funny watching him try to make since of it. I am sure that in a few weeks he will accept his new neighbors and enjoy the company next-door.

So once again the land scape of my backyard has changed. We are really excited about our new addition and the chicks to arrive in May. I will also be adding more chickens to the Bantam Boutique Crew as well. I have 4 Bantam Frizzle Cochins that will be added to the current residents of the Bantam Boutique. That will be a post to come later.

For now, the kid loves his TARDIS coop and the Silkie girls love their news digs.

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Welcome to the Coop-hood!! The TARDIS has landed!

 

Thanks for taking time to catch up with the girls and I. We have a lot of exciting things coming up in the next few months as we prepare for spring planting and a new batch of 9 chicks to arrive. We will catch up with you soon. Till then keep on crowing.

~ The Kuntry Klucker, Bantam Boutique, and TARDIS Crew ~

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Introducing the “Bantom Botique”

Spring has sprung, for backyard chicken keepers this means only one thing, Chicks!! That is right, the girls and I will have new additions to the backyard, allow me to introduce to you the Bantom Boutique.  The Bantom Boutique will house two new breeds, White Crested Polish Bantoms and White Silkie Bantoms. The girls and I have been very busy putting together the new coop and getting it painted and decorated in time for the new additions to arrive.  It has been a project that I have been working on for the past three months, I am so glad that it is finally finished. All we have to do now it wait for the peeping box to arrive in May. But for now, allow me to get you caught up on our little project here at the Kuntry Klucker Farm.

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I purchased the Bantom Boutique at my local Tractor Supply store. Since I am getting some fancy breeds I though that I should get a coop that matches the style of the tenants. The coop came in a huge box, actually so huge that I could not get it into the backyard. Instead I opened it up on the drive way and carried it piece by piece to the backyard for assembly. This is where the girls come in.

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Since they consider the backyard their territory anything that enters the backyard is put through a strict scrutiny (pecking) process. The Bantom Boutique was no acceptation. As the pieces started to collect in the backyard the girls got right to work pecking giving it their approval. For the assembly of the Bantom Boutique I did have some human help, my sons were a great help in the construction process.

We had a great time putting together the Bantom Boutique. The girls were very involved in the process as well. As we started to assemble all the random pieces propped against the fence the girls made sure that they got their say in the approval of the structure. Miss Sweet Pea in particular was of much help.

As the vague shape of a chicken coop started to emerge out of the random pieces the girls knew just what to do. Go in and check out the new neighbors digs! They inspected it inside and out giving it their stamp (peck) of approval.

Now that we finally had the Bantom Boutique completed, it was time to decorate! I painted the Bantom Boutique the classic red and white that all my coops dote. Out of the box it was a slate grey and white. Although pretty I prefer all my coops to have a uniformity, that being barn red and white. So once I got it situated the next step was the painting. For this I would not allow the girls to help me. I had to keep them in their pen while I was painting the Bantom Boutique. Paint is not good for chickens to consume or breath. They were upset with me but I had to put their safety first.

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Once it was dry, it was time for decorating and the coop-scaping. For this phase I had plenty of help or should I say “hen-derences”. Finally freed from their pen and eager to help, the girls got straight to work. I went to my local nursery and brought home several plants, bags of mulch, and a large bag of potting soil. Their first task was to taste all of the plants that I brought home. You see all of the plants in my backyard are edible by the girls. I do this so that I do not have to worry about the girls consuming something that could  hurt them. Whenever I bring in something new to plant in the backyard they are eager to taste it.

So, as I set my plants out and got my potting soil ready I had plenty of “hen-derences” helping me. On one side I had a few of the girls tasting the new neighbors plants, on the other side I had Miss Sweet Pea in the garden soil bag having a ball. You see chickens use dirt to dust bathe in, this keeps their feathers groomed and even wards off lice and mites.

Well, apparently potting soil makes for great dust bathing! As I was trying to get the girls on my one side from eating all my plants I had on the other side Miss Sweet Pea kicking all the potting soil out of the bag as she was dust bathing in it. It was really kind of funny. I regret that I was never able to snap any pictures of all the “help”, but it was really cute. I have planted flowers in the backyard before and never had this much help from the girls, so this is why I call them my “hen-derences”. We had a ball planting the flower and getting the Bantom Boutique ready for the chicks in May.

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I still have plans for one more coop in my backyard that will house Blue Orphingtons, but that is a project for another year. For now, the Bantom Boutique is our new addition. I will have plenty of pics in May when the chicks arrive that I will share with you all.

But before I go, I have some other exciting news. Miss Katie, our resident broody hen has gone broody again this year. This is so timely because I am hoping that she will adopt and brood this new batch of chicks for me. If not that is okay, I will simply set up my brooder and raise them till they are ready for the big outdoors. However, if she takes to the new chicks I will let her raise them in the backyard for me. I have placed her in the Bantom Boutique where the new chicks will live once they are able to be outside. She has made herself comfortable and is happily sitting on some ceramic eggs that I placed under her.

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This is the first time I have attempted to see if a broody hen will adopt chicks that she did not hatch. I have many friends that have had success with adoption. It all depends on the hen. Miss Katie is our tried and true momma. She has raised three other clutches for me and I look for her to adopt the chicks and raise them for me as well. Additionally, she is a very friendly broody. Many broody hens can be mean and aggressive. Miss Katie on the other hand is not. She has raised other clutches of chick that turned out to be very friendly. She will not only teach the chicks how to be chickens but also teach them to trust and be friendly towards me. I will make sure to post about my experience with this either good or bad.

That is all for now, thanks for stopping by and spending some time with the girls and I. Till next time keep on crowing!

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~ The Kuntry Klucker Crew ~