Monday, March 31, 2014

Urban Chicken Coop: A Review

I know many of you noticed that Sam's Club was carrying chicken coops in many of their stores. When my mom called me excitedly to tell me they had one set up in the store and it was really cute - Eric and I had to check it out.

I've always been a bit skeptical of buying pre made coops. I've heard a lot about how they aren't safe, are flimsy, just cheaply made but with a hefty price tag. We're also spoiled because we inherited our three coops, meticulously built by Uncle Ed. I know ours are safe, since they've been in use since the 60s. Obviously durable since they are about 50 years old. And definitely not cheap - they have extremely high quality cedar shakes nice enough to put on a house! But we were planning to build a small coop this spring for our sweet but horribly clumsy rooster Slippers. Coincidentally, the coop at Sam's Club was almost an exact replica of what we planned to build.

That got us thinking - maybe we could buy one, put it together in one afternoon and save ourselves so much time. Especially this year when we have so many things planned. The downside of this idea is obviously that the coop was most likely more expensive than we would have had to spend ourselves to build something similar. The coop was priced at $300 for those of you that didn't see it for yourselves at Sam's. It is also listed here.

So here's some info about the coop. It's made by a company called Urban Chicken. You can find their website here and their facebook here. The finished coop and run are about 7.5 ft long by 3.5 ft wide and 4.5 ft tall. The total coop size is about 3 ft long by 2.5 ft wide and 3.5 ft tall. So the coop is roughly 7.5 square feet inside. The run is roughly 26 square feet. Keep in mind that the run is underneath the coop for maximum run space. They recommend 4-6 standard size chickens or up to 8 bantams. Please do not pack that many birds into this size coop. I like to recommend 5 sq ft inside the coop per chicken, and 10sq ft in the run per chicken. The coop is made in America of yellow pine and comes already stained. There are two nest boxes with a convenient egg gathering door above them. There is a pull out tray for cleaning the bedding inside of the coop as well as two "roosts".

We had a lot of "help" putting it together!

Overall we give this coop a "B" rating and would recommend it. It's a good option for someone who is not handy and wants a couple of chickens. We do not recommend this coop for anyone who is not willing to make some minor modifications. And if you are planning on keeping more than two chickens, please consider a different coop. Read why we have rated it as such below. 

Holes were off slightly.
The construction of the coop was easy. The instructions are easy to follow and you do not need to be extremely handy to be able to build it. Just make sure the correct side is out, since they look so similar. We did run into a few problems though. Nothing severe, just annoying. In order to put all the sides together, there are small wood dowels that fit into corresponding holes on the next piece. Once in place, they hold the sides together snugly so you can fully screw them together. Some areas were missing these dowels all together, which was annoying to line it up properly, it certainly wasn't difficult. Also, a few of the holes did not match up to the proper location and we had to drill new holes before assembling those pieces. Again, not overly difficult just a bit annoying. Even with these minor issues with assembly, it was definitely something most people could accomplish without difficulty.

This can give you an idea of the size!

So what do we think about the coop overall? It's definitely cute. But it needs modifications. One of the most simple issues is the latches on the doors. These are just not adequate if you live in an area with raccoons. In some areas, the tongue and groove siding was warped leaving very obvious gaps. These areas need reinforcement. Additional gaps were in some areas of the roof, which besides being unsafe which would be obvious leaky areas during rain. Another issue was that most of the screws that were provided were too long. They did include smaller screws for the outside areas of the coop where you can possibly snag a finger, but the screws inside of the coop should also be replaced. I could picture our rooster gouging out an eye on one, and knowing him he would definitely do it. The floor of the nest box area was a big weak point in our opinion and should be more securely attached. But just a few screws will fix that issue. 

Digging to add wire.
A couple of other changes that we made was making the ramp easily removable. If you need access to the inside of the run, the ramp is in your way. By just using two finish nails rather than screws, you can slide the ramp in and out easily. We also buried wire underneath the coop to prevent predators from digging in. But that really depends on what type of predators you have in your area. The roosts are located about two inches off of the floor. Once shavings or straw is added they are pretty much level with the floor. The roosts should always be higher than the nest boxes since chickens instinctively seek out a higher roosting place. Inadequate roosts often leads to chickens sleeping in the nest boxes, which is no fun. There is plenty of room to place the roosts higher. I would also recommend using a wider piece of wood so they can roost more comfortably. None of the modifications are difficult, but we definitely think they are worth doing. 

- Easy to assemble. 
- A good choice for people that are not handy. 
- Most of the work is already done for you. 
- Perfect for two chickens. 
- Very cute coop. 
- It comes pre-stained. 
- Uses hardwire cloth instead of chicken wire. 
- Overall construction is solid and sound.
- Great for someone who is just getting started with chickens.

- Needs some modifications. 
- Not recommended for more than two chickens. 
- Although the stain is beautiful, it's uneven in some places. 
- The box is very heavy (150lbs) so be prepared to move it. But it does contain a full chicken coop so this is to be expected!


  1. Thank you so much for this review! I could see getting one of these. Nice to know the ins and outs and that I could definitely make it work.