In this chicken coop review, we’ll be getting up close to the Cottage Chicken House from Dobies. Suitable for six hens, this is a traditional farmyard style hen house built with rustic charm and Shire Horse strength. While it’s not on the cheap side, you do get a formidable coop for your money.
Despite looking huge in the photo, in real life, the coop is not something that’s going to take over your garden. It’s actually just over a metre high, a metre long and just short of a metre wide. What makes it look big are the two nesting boxes on either side.
The coop’s frame is very sturdily constructed using 50mm x 38mm timber. This is not something that’s going to get blown down by the next Atlantic storm. The side and roof panelling is a good thickness too: at 16mm it’s a couple of millimetres chunkier than your average coop. The tongue and groove, shiplap construction also makes for good wind and water proofing.
The coop is built on legs which means that the floor is not going to come into touch with the damp ground and start rotting and the pitched roof and nesting boxes will ensure that water won’t accumulate and cause damage their either.
One particularly nice feature that you don’t see on many coops, is that handles have been built into the frame on the front and back to enable you to move it around your garden. These can make life much easier if you want to move the chickens somewhere more sheltered in winter or give them somewhere a little greener to forage once they have turned their pen into a barren mudbath.
You can’t help but like this coop, it has a rustic charm, symmetry and lots of interesting little features like the diamond in the centre of the roof’s apex, an overhanging pitch, eyebrow-shaped handles and triangular patterned ventilation holes. At the same time, viewed straight on, with the pophole open, it looks like a sort of wooden Angry Bird.
Although the coop looks great in natural wood, it can be tinted or painted to match the colour scheme of your garden or blend in with painted fencing or sheds.
Suitability for chickens
The coop is advertised as being suitable for 6 to 8 hens, however, we would suggest that you keep it to a maximum of 6 hens or 8 bantams. This would make it a comfortable size for the birds to roost without getting too cramped on the perches.
The coop has some good features for the hens’ comfort. The double perches are well shaped for a good grip and wide enough for the chickens to huddle together and keep warm at night. Make sure you fix the perches a little higher than the base of the nesting boxes, otherwise, they’ll roost in those instead and make a mess all over your eggs.
The nesting boxes are a good size and make for private, undisturbed laying. Each nesting box is separated into two compartments, so two chickens can lay at the same time. If you are going to have six or more hens living in there, you should buy the coop with a nesting box at either side (you can buy a version with just the one nesting box for about £3O less).
There’s a good sized pophole with a short ramp to give the chickens easy access in and out of the coop.
From a health perspective, the coop has adequate ventilation to ensure that the noxious and potentially harmful ammonia gasses from their droppings is removed and that fresh air is circulated. Never close off the ventilation holes, even on the coldest of days. As the coop doesn’t have a felt roof, it is less likely to become a home for red mite – which is always a positive. However, the lack of a felt roof means you need to make sure you don’t forget to give the coop its annual wood preservative treatment.
The Cottage Hen House has some good security features. Being raised off the ground makes it less penetrable, though the thickness of the wood on its own should ensure predators such as foxes, stoats and weasels have no chance of biting or clawing their way in. The vertically closing pophole door and rear cleaning door are also robustly constructed and their opening mechanisms are animal-proof.
The Cottage Hen House can come with an optional 6ft run, however, the one we looked at didn’t have this attached, so we can’t pass comment on it. That said, for the protection of your chickens, a covered run is always preferable. No matter where you live, these days, there are foxes not too far away. Do remember that some predators can burrow beneath a pen, so it’s always advisable to put a layer of mesh underground or laid flat outside the perimeter of the run.
Cleaning and egg collection
Perhaps the only disappointment about this coop is that it doesn’t have a sliding tray floor which you can pull out and clean. This means you need to lean into the coop to sweep it out and hose down. However, there’s a good sized door at the rear and, with the coop being raised up, it won’t be too backbreaking a task. On a more positive note, the perches are removable and so can be taken out and washed down.
Egg collection, as with most coops, is done externally, just by lifting the hinged lid of the nesting box. It’s quick, easy and doesn’t disturb the chickens (unless one is laying when you collect).
If you are looking for an attractive, well-designed coop, that’s going to last for years and which provides good quality accommodation for a reasonable sized flock, then the Cottage Hen House is for you. It’s not cheap to buy but, there again, it’s not cheaply built either. The materials are of good quality and they are handmade to order in the UK.
At the time of publication, a Cottage Hen House with nesting box on one side was £500. The version with a double sided nesting box was £530. The optional run was an extra £235.
For more information, or to buy the Cottage Hen House, visit Dobies.