Raise Chickens In Your Backyard With Our 5 Favorite Chicken Coops (2024)

Once you’ve done the research on chickens and how to care for them, then checked your local laws to ensure your backyard chicken-raising dream is legal where you live, you're ready to consider the right coop for your flock.

To narrow down your search criteria, Alecia Torres of Heartland Farm Sanctuary advised, “Safety and comfort are equally important! Coops should keep pet chickens safe from predators and avian flu exposure. Coops should be roomy (and include access to a protected outdoor space) and cleaned daily.”

Our top pick for Best Overall chicken coop is the Nestera Wagon Coop, with its easy-to-clean non-stick surface, adjustable ventilation and thermal insulation, door with ramp for easy free range foraging, and size, suitable for up to eight large hens.

What We Like

  • Four wheels for smooth maneuverability

  • 25 year warranty

  • Eco-friendly construction and manufacturing

  • Easy to clean

  • Adjustable ventilation

  • Points of entry secure from predators

  • Nestera donates to good causes, including animal rescue charities

What We Don't Like

  • Set low, so you’ll need to crouch down to work with this coop

  • Takes at least two people to assemble

The Nestera Wagon Coop is not only sturdy and well-made, but also eco-friendly (all of Nestera’s products are made from 100 percent recycled materials and flat packaged in recycled cardboard for sustainable shipping) as well as predator-proof, smoothly transportable with four wheels, and visually appealing. It comes with a 25-year warranty, too, which sets it apart from pretty much any other chicken coop on the market.

Interior perks are plentiful too, including three removable perches, adjustable vents for optimizing airflow, a chicken-friendly ramp for when your hens want to go up or down, and easy access with smooth non-stick surfaces for easy cleanup using just about whatever method suits you—including simply hosing it down with water (just be sure to take the hens out first!)

There are handles on the front so you grasp them and move the wagon as you wish, and the wheels have brakes attached to keep it still when on an incline. It’s also sized for six to eight large birds, or more if you have smaller breed hens, like bantams.

While there are a couple of disadvantages, we think the benefits of having this coop outweigh them for most households. Everything is set kind of low, so you’ll need to be able to bend over and crouch down or kneel in order to clean the wagon out sufficiently or handle any tasks inside. It also takes at least two people to assemble it (so hire someone if you need to— it lasts 25 years!)

You can also add a WiFi coop camera to watch your flock remotely, an automatic door opener, or removable droppings trays if you wish (but we think the wagon coop probably functions well enough as it is).

Dimensions: 54.5 x 68.5 x 44.5 inches | Materials: Recycled Plastic | Included Accessories: n/a | Features: Lockable sliding cover, nesting box insert, adjustable ventilation, four wheels for smooth maneuverability

What We Like

  • Instructions are easy to follow

  • All steel frame with powder coating

  • Offers 3 spacious nesting boxes

  • Comes with an extended roosting bar

What We Don't Like

  • Slightly smaller than expected

  • Works great in the summer but needs insulation added for winter

  • Doesn’t comfortably house 6 chickens; maybe 3 or 4

The Producer's Pride Sentinel Chicken Coop has a powder coated all steel frame that deters rust and secure door latches that help keep predators at bay. Its ramp is constructed of solid wood, making for a sturdy surface for your chickens to walk on, and its handy slide-out tray is made of metal, so it’s easy to clean as often as needed.

There’s a sliding door for your chickens to enter, and an extra-durable asphalt roof with wood reinforcement. It also comes with pre-drilled holes and pre-assembled panels for super easy assembly, as well as an extended roosting bar, and three large nesting boxes for your flock’s comfort. It doesn’t appear to house as many grown (or growing!) chickens as advertised though but you’ll be able to keep a few in it (maybe 3 - 5) comfortably as long as it’s kept clean and warm. It’s available at a great price—half of the price of the competition.

Dimensions: 76 x 40.43 x 48 inches | Materials: Wood, asphalt | Included Accessories: 3 nesting boxes, an extended roosting bar | Features: A sliding door, entrance ramp, pre-drilled holes, pre-assembled panels

What We Like

  • Ample space for up to 4 chickens

  • Planter is built-in with drainage system

  • Easy-to-clean mesh floor

  • Lockable chicken and egg doors

  • Aesthetically pleasing for the discerning chicken raiser

  • Comes with white glove delivery option (someone puts it together for you)

What We Don't Like

For the household that takes style to a whole new level, Williams Sonoma provides a more chic option for your hen home. This sophisticated structure comes with several levels, 25 square feet of run space, and an eye-catching built-in planter with its own drainage system—so you can grab a sprig of rosemary or thyme when you visit the coop for your morning eggs.

The coops are hand built in the United States from custom-milled wood, designed with a waterproof galvanized metal roof, a mesh-enclosed run, and indoor perches to help your chickens stay calm. You’ll be able to grab your eggs from inside either of the two removable nest boxes and there are locks on each exterior door for added predator-proof security.

While the coop is space-saving, its run is also on the small side (even though it technically does provide the recommended space per chicken). A bit of free-range foraging time should help out with that, provided your hens have adequate protection when outside the run.

Dimensions: 63.25 x 61.75 x 83.25 inches | Materials: Cedar frame, galvanized metal roof, wire mesh run | Included Accessories: Two removable nesting boxes | Features: Built-in planter with drainage system

What We Like

  • Roomy with interior dimensions of 94.5 x 33.5 x 44.3 inches

  • Heavy duty welded wire keeps predators out

  • Quality hardware and materials for sturdy assembly

  • Specially designed latches keep predators from opening nesting boxes

What We Don't Like

  • Expensive

The run attached to this coop will fulfill all of your flock’s dreams of outdoor adventure without the danger. Good for setting up on any grassy area you choose, this enclosure is comprised of heavy duty galvanized welded wire with half-inch square openings—ideal for deterring critters. It also has a special latch for keeping out predators with nimble paws (like raccoons) and a removable metal pan for easy cleanup of your chickens’ space.

The roof, made of asphalt, has excellent waterproofing properties that can fend off the fiercest of elements. The four perches included will provide a sense of security for your hens, reducing their stress, especially at night and there are six large nesting boxes (two with dividers in them to make six total), and several access points for egg harvesting. If you’ve got two people and 45 minutes, you should be able to assemble this coop and run combo easily.

Dimensions: (Overall: 134.5 x 59 x 62.4 inches, Run dimensions: 94.5 x 33.5 x 44.3 inches) | Materials: 100% fir wood, painted with animal-safe paint | Included Accessories: 4 inside and 2 in the outdoor yard roosts | Features: Predator-proof safety latch on nesting box, pull-out mess metal pan for easy cleaning, heavy-duty galvanized welded wire keeps chickens in the run and predators out of it

What We Like

  • Easy to put together

  • Sturdy construction

  • Great for beginner chicken hobbyists

  • Easy to disassemble and move

What We Don't Like

  • Will need to be painted to withstand the elements

  • Not large enough for 8–10 chickens as advertised

The Petmate Superior Construction Chicken Coop is easy to take assemble, with a high-quality, sturdy build. Plus, it's made of unfinished wood, so you can stain, coat or paint it to your specifications. Easier than most chicken coops to disassemble and reassemble, the Petmate is a good pick if you plan to periodically move your coop's location. It’s easy to put together with pre-drilled holes, making it a good choice for beginners as well.

Crafted of solid wood 200 percent thicker than standard panels and a thick plastic roof, this coop is durable and well-constructed enough to stand up to predators and the elements. There are three nesting boxes inside the coop, adjustable rear ventilation and three roosting bars (two internal; one external).

Keep in mind that chickens grow and that they’ll need plenty of space—so you’ll want to start with fewer than the advertised 8–10 hens (we think 3–5 is a good number).

Dimensions: 72.75 x 76 x 46 inches | Materials: Wood, plastic | Included Accessories: 3 roosting bars (2 internal, 1 external), 3 internal nesting boxes | Features: Adjustable rear ventilation

Final Verdict

Our favorite coop is the Nestera Wagon Coop for its ease of cleaning, four wheels for smooth maneuverability, door with ramp for easy access to free foraging, adjustable ventilation and thermal insulation, and eco-friendly construction and shipping.

What to Look for When Shopping for a Chicken Coop

Size

If chickens don’t have enough room, issues like fighting can arise, bacteria can build up, and the chances of illness can increase.

You’ll also need room for nesting boxes, a feeder and waterer, and a dusting box, preferably filled with dirt and food-grade diatomaceous earth, for the chickens to dust bathe in to help prevent parasites. (If you’re in a bind and can’t let your chickens out to forage freely, try setting up a clean litter pan or small baby pool with dirt and diatomaceous earth in it, and see if your hens will take an indoor dust bath).

Experts have varied opinions on the matter of size. Torres says, “Commercially built coops are usually too small. There are many plans available online for DIY coops that will provide a more enriching home for chickens. Coops should be roomy (and include access to a protected outdoor space)”, while Collar explains that, “In the summer they need less space because they'll be outside most of the time and only come into the coop to sleep, so about a square foot per hen is enough. Plus they like to cuddle up together, so the space can be a little smaller as long as during the daytime they have access to the outside.”

Sizes of chicken coops can vary considerably, depending upon the size of your hens and how many you plan to keep. Generally, a coop should offer four square feet of space per chicken, in addition to and separate from outdoor space, if your chickens are average-sized standard breed hens. If you plan to keep a rooster in the coop, limit one to every ten hens. If you intend to keep multiple roosters in your coop, you’ll need to double or triple the space based on how many you’ll be adding. Keep in mind that it’s highly recommended to only keep one rooster with a small flock due to the likelihood of fighting.

Height-wise, coops should be at least 3.5 feet tall, which makes it high enough for all the recommended roosting bars, bedding, and proper ventilation.

Protection

Chickens have plenty of things they need protection from, including predators like cats, owls, hawks, raccoons, rats, weasels, and more. They also need protection from disease and the elements.

Coops should be constructed so that there are no holes or cracks that smaller predators can sneak in through. They should also be far from unnecessary clutter, like wood piles or leaves, as they attract predators.

Any ventilation areas must be covered at night (or whenever you bring your hens inside the coop), holes must be covered or stuffed with steel wool, and hardware cloth must be applied across the floor so that predators can't dig their way in either.

In addition to making your coop predator-proof, dogs offer excellent protection if you get one trained or bred to protect your flock. Livestock Guardian Dogs (LGDs) are a great choice, and Great Pyrenees are a classic example of an LGD.

According to Collar, "We bought a dog right away when we started raising chickens, and the dog lives with them. We don't need to lock them up as often now because the dog sleeps with them. Ours is a Great Pyrenees dog, and it roams with them when they are outside too. We put a fence up to keep the dog in, but other than that, they have plenty of space to roam. So a dog is great protection for chickens."

Chicken Runs and Outdoor Access

Chicken runs are outdoor enclosures attached to the coop which allow hens to peck around outside. Ideally, you can place them over grassy areas with plenty of insects, worms, grubs, grains, and other types of nutritious vegetation they can snack on while they get fresh air and exercise. Some claim that, when created properly, runs can provide chickens with sufficient outdoor access without needing to roam freely.

Most experts agree that a good size chicken run has approximately ten square feet of space per chicken. Without sufficient space, chickens tend to fight and the environment tends to grow unsanitary which leads to health issues. Runs can be constructed of plywood, metal sheeting, PVC pipe, or anything toxin-free and sturdy enough to keep predators out and withstand the weather.

When building a run, DIYers should reflect on the possibility of making one that leads to free range exploration. Allowing the hens the opportunity to explore freely in the pasture is paramount, according to Ralph Collar, who describes it as the most important feature of a chicken coop. He says, "Giving the hens access to the outside 365 days a year is a very important feature. Hens know when they want to go outside and when they don't, so it's good to give them the choice." He also adds that, "That way they get plenty of exercise. They also eat plenty of bugs, which are great for their nutrition, if you make sure they have access to grassy areas. The best nutrition for chickens is available on grass. Good quality eggs are connected to how much time they're allowed to spend outside on the grass."

Collar also adds that he doesn't feed his hens inside the coop, unless the weather is terrible outside. He says, "We put their food out at least a football field away so they have to go out and get it and get their exercise."

FAQ

  • What kind of bedding is best for chicken coops?

    While there is some disagreement about the best bedding and flooring for a chicken coop, the consensus is that the floor should remain as clean and dry as possible, with a covering of bedding that absorbs droppings and bacteria until it can be swept away—preferably daily.

    No matter what type of flooring you choose for your chicken coop, you’ll also want a covering of soft, dry bedding to prevent your chickens from scraping their feet— a common cause of infection. Bedding also helps keep your coop’s flooring clean, as most of the chickens’ droppings will stick to it and be swept out if proper, daily upkeep is maintained.

    Absorbent materials like wood shavings, straw, sand, or ground corn cobs can make suitable bedding for the floor of your coop.

    Wood shavings: Wood shavings are commonly used in chicken coops, as they are affordable, absorbent, and readily found in most farm stores. If you opt for wood shavings, go for larger, flaked shavings, with low dust. Specifically, the pine or aspen types of wood shavings are often used, but there are differing opinions on how safe they are for the birds. One reason against their use is because wood shavings release gas when removed from their plastic packaging, with some (especially cedar) being so strongly scented that it’s actually toxic to the chickens, causing them to have severe respiratory issues. Be sure to stay away from non-absorbent hardwoods in general, as mold has a tendency to grow in them over time—which can lead to potentially life-threatening illnesses if inhaled by either fowl or their human caretakers.

    Wood shavings are also said to be helpful when using the 'deep litter' method (when soiled bedding is turned over and allowed to compost while still on the floor of the coop, rather than taken outside and disposed of). However, there is disagreement over how healthy this method is, as its disadvantages include the possible build-up of bacteria, ammonia, and parasite larvae in the flooring.

    Be sure not to use sawdust as it's too fine, dusty, and tends to stay too damp.

    Straw: Straw (not hay) provides a nice cushioning for the floor of your coop, also creating excellent insulation for the winter months. It's easy to find, compostable (if you're into the deep litter method) and can be used in nesting boxes as well. Chickens enjoy pecking around in it for the leftover grains, too.

    A couple of drawbacks to straw use do exist, though. One is that straw makes an attractive environment for mites to linger and breed in, which you definitely want to avoid as mites can cause your flock feather loss, anemia, or even death. If allowed to remain wet, straw can also cause aspergillosis, a respiratory illness. Straw sometimes contains the pesticides farmers used on their crops, which can be harmful to the birds and/or their babies. Straw can be expensive and it's not advised for hotter regions of the world, since it can create excessive heat in the coop.

    Also, remember to use only chopped straw in your coop, as non-chopped straw can lead to crop impaction, a blockage in the chickens' digestive system.

    Sand: Sand is a great option for chicken coop bedding due to its absorbent, non-toxic, quick-drying, low-dust, easy-to-clean nature. It's also great at stabilizing the temperature of your coop (i.e. helping stay cool in summer, warm in winter), and is generally low in pathogens. When you purchase sand, go for a medium or coarse-grained, construction-grade quality (not play sand) as it will offer better absorption and drainage, and will also prevent your hens from accidentally ingesting too much of it.

    The biggest disadvantages are that sand does not compost well (if you're into the deep litter method), and it can be expensive. It also must be cleaned daily.

    Shredded Paper: Shredded paper is used extensively as chicken coop bedding, preferred for its inexpensiveness (especially considering it's often free, if you have a shredder on hand!), high compostability, and softness for chicks/nesting boxes. The downside is that the ink (particularly colored ink) on paper can be toxic for the birds. If you're certain the ink on yours is soy-based, that would work. Be on the lookout for any receipts printed on thermal paper, though, as it contains BPA and must be kept out of the coop.

    Hemp: Hemp is more absorbent than straw or pine shavings, and it creates a soft layer for chickens' to walk on. It's also great for reducing odor, is easily broken down when composting, and causes less dust than other bedding sources. It's a fantastic natural pesticide as well, so it repels any mites (in addition to flies or other pests) that might otherwise cause a problem for your flock.

    Ground corn cobs, pine needles, dried leaves and other types of bedding may be used at times, each with their own set of advantages and drawbacks. However, most farms tend to use wood shavings, straw, shredded paper or sand, as they are the easiest to find and have the best outcomes for chicken raising.

  • What flooring is best for chicken coops?

    When choosing chicken coop flooring, you’ll want something that’s durable, affordable, and easy to keep clean. You’ll also need to consider the size of your chickens and their level of mobility. Larger chicken breeds, such as Jersey Giant, Orpington, Cornish or Australorp, (i.e. breeds weighing seven to fifteen pounds or more), or birds with lower levels of mobility, will need flooring with greater traction to prevent slipping and injury.

    Dirt, wood (plywood and non-plywood), and concrete work well as chicken coop flooring, but all of these can require additional stall mats made of rubber for traction, especially when flooring is wet.

    Dirt: Dirt is the gentlest choice of flooring for chickens to walk on, since it’s soft for their joints and feet, but it provides poor protection from predators and rodents— especially the types that can dig their way into your coop (although wire or hardware cloth placed underneath the dirt floor may help prevent this). It’s also difficult to keep clean and must be replenished over time as it erodes. A better method may be to apply a few inches of dirt on top of concrete.

    Wood: Wood is probably the most common type of flooring for chicken coops. It’s generally affordable, safe, somewhat durable, easy to find and straightforward when used for construction. It’s also fairly easy on chickens’ joints and feet as they walk on it. However, it doesn’t provide great traction for them, so you’ll most likely need a stall mat or two to help out. Wood is also prone to warping, rotting, and succumbing to damage from predators chewing and scratching through it. Adding protective layers or reinforcement from metal or wire can help with these issues. Painting it can also help with protection from moisture and rotting as well as keeping the floor clean.

    Plywood: Plywood is a great choice when you need to build a coop very quickly.It’s not perfect, though. It can be harder to clean and can rot over time, although perhaps a little more slowly. Go for the exterior grade plywood if you can, and skip the composite kind when shopping. The exterior grade type will hold up to moisture and hen droppings far better over time. Remember to sweep out the bedding regularly and keep your plywood floors from prolonged exposure to moisture, and it should stay in good shape for your flock.

    Concrete: Concrete makes excellent chicken coop flooring, as it keeps out predators, rodents, and other animals that burrow from beneath from gaining entry. It won’t rot like wood, is highly durable, and it’s a cinch to keep clean— especially if you have access to a power washer.

    One thing to remember: With harder surfaces, like concrete, you’ll want enough texture to give good traction (since concrete can be slippery when wet), as well as a covering of soft bedding to prevent chickens from scraping their feet— a common cause of infection.

    Vinyl or Linoleum: While some people do choose vinyl or linoleum as their chicken coop flooring, it can be a bit problematic. They’re both usually pretty durable, but the price can be steep (unless you’re possibly using some that’s left over from a different project). Plus you’ll want to consider the cost of any adhesive you’ll need to hold it in place—as well as the possibility that the fumes of certain glues or other adhesives are toxic until thoroughly dry, especially in coops without adequate ventilation.

    Finally, the vinyl or linoleum itself can be toxic to your flock (although the linoleum is better than vinyl in this regard), as they can and will ingest it while pecking around. They also tend to wear it down over time, so you’ll definitely need to replace it.

    A third choice of this type would be marmoleum, which is touted as an eco-friendly option, low in VOC emissions and less toxic overall, and it usually doesn’t require any additional adhesive. The downside: It gets stained and scratched easily.

    Wire: Although wire has been a popular flooring for coops, mostly for its tendency to be easy to clean since chicken droppings are believed to fall through the openings in the wire grating.

    However, there are definite disadvantages to using it— namely because if set too close to the ground, it can allow your chickens to get damp from rising moisture, and possibly ill from having wet feathers. It can be a problem if elevated, too, as wind and rain can waft up into your coop, also causing health issues with your hens. Plus, wire flooring can be hard on chicken feet in the short term, and even lead to musculoskeletal issues over time.

Why Trust The Spruce Pets?

KJ Callihan is a writer for The Spruce Pets and a lifelong animal lover currently owned by a shelter cat named Arlo. Callihan enjoys writing roundups about the best pet products she can find, and she spent hours researching the top chicken coops for this story. To make sure the best features were considered, she also consulted Alecia Torres, Shelter Director at Heartland Farm Sanctuary in Stoughton, Wisconsin, and Ralph Collar, Owner and Manager of Stone Hedge Farm in Mason, Michigan, for their wisdom and expertise on the subject.

Raise Chickens In Your Backyard With Our 5 Favorite Chicken Coops (2024)
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