For our latest chicken coop review we are looking at a very popular hen house, the Chicken Coops Imperial Marlborough, designed for 5 – 7 hens, depending on size.
As you can see from the photograph above, this is an attractive, traditional style, wooden coop, but there is far more to it than simply what it looks like: in this review we’ll take a close look at its construction and design features and see how it shapes up against other coops.
The coop is a decent size, but not quite big enough for the 6-8 hens advertised. With about 1 sq meter of floor space, you’d be looking to house 5 large hens, 6 medium hens and 7 bantams at the most. If you have a bigger flock then you should really look for something bigger.
Build and construction
At £119 for coop of this size, we were expecting quite flimsy wood in the construction. However, whilst it’s not the thickest timber we’ve seen, it compares well with many other coops in this price range and was well built, solidly made and seemed robust enough to last. The timber is tongue and grooved and pre-treated which should keep it sturdy and weather proof. We particularly like the plastic shoes the coop has (see picture) to prevent any wood touching the ground getting wet and rotten. This will certainly add to its longevity.
The roof and nesting box lids are felt covered which will protect them and the wood underneath from water damage and rot which is a good thing, however, the space between the felt and the wood makes an attractive home to red mite. Chicken Coops Imperial glue the felt to the wood to prevent this, but make sure you check that the felt remains secure and in good condition.
One way to make sure that the coop stays in good condition is to treat the wood well, inside and out. By making it water proof you help prevent timber from warping or rotting. This should be done with all wooden coops on an annual basis – using an animal friendly product.
There has been a lot of thought gone into the design of the Imperial Marlborough coop. One of the first things to note is the nesting boxes – it comes with two large nesting boxes, each divided into three discrete compartments so that all the birds can lay eggs without having to wait for another to finish. The roof of each nesting box opens fully to allow easy collection without you having to go into the coop to collect your breakfast.
The coop is also easy to clean. Like many well designed coops, it has a galvanised steel lined pull out tray at the bottom (see image), which means you can take it out, remove the old bedding and droppings and hose down with ease. As for cleaning the inside of the coop, the perches and the nesting dividers all lift, out making them easy to clean, whilst the wide door and open roof gives easy access to the inside.
The fact that the roof opens fully, means that you can leave the coop open to the elements on warm, dry days. Although the chickens will be out of the coop any way, it will give the coop the opportunity to dry out at a quicker rate than it would with just the normal ventilation (chicken droppings are incredibly wet and make the air inside moist.) This would make the coop a more comfortable place when the hens return in the evening.
The Imperial Marlborough has other features which will make your chickens’ lives comfortable too. There are three well designed perches, each one a sturdy thickness with the correct width and bevelled edges that make it easy to grip. The perches are wide enough for the hens to roost together and keep warm in the winter months.
Ventilation is vital for the health of your hens and there is a good sized, adjustable vent in the top of the coop secured with mesh to prevent any predators getting in. Whilst it’s adjustable, we would never recommend that the vent is fully closed as it can cause ammonia levels in the coop to become dangerous. We would consider drilling a couple of small holes, the size of a wine cork, at the opposite side of the coop – two ventilation holes means air can flow in and out more easily than with just one.
To enable the chickens easy access in and out, there is a sliding door to the front and a ramp to enable easy access to the run and back.
The coop is generally predator proof, though do make sure that the roof, nesting box lids and both doors are secured before you leave the coop at night. The wood is of a good strength to protect against scratching and chewing and being raised off the ground it will stop predators from trying to burrow underneath and dig their way in.
Building at Home
To keep prices down, the coop arrives flat packed and will need building at home. These types of coops are not difficult to build and don’t require any specialist DIY skills. An instruction kit will come with it. Provided you are well organised and can follow flat pack instructions you can put this together in an hour or so. We suggest building it where you are going to place it to save the hassle of having to carry it later.
For £140.97 (£119.97 + £21.00 shipping) you are getting quite a lot for your money. This is a well built, fit for purpose coop with lots of good design features. There are a couple of things we would change, but that is the same for most coops in this price bracket. For ten pounds more, you should also check out the Devon Coop from Chicken Coops Direct. It’s similar, but has a better construction and the option to buy purpose made run.
For more details or to buy the Chicken Coops Imperial Marlbouough, Click Here