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Triangular Ark Chicken Coop
The style of commercial chicken houses doesn't get much more classical than this triangular ark chicken coop, which is one of the more widely held models stocked in most pet stores. One reason for this, is the space. They do not take up much space in the store, and the shape is attractive enough to get attention from pet chicken owners. Is it one of the best options though?
I would say it is definitely a good model if you only have a couple of chickens, but the lack of space would start to be a concern for any more than 3. The advantage a well-built triangular ark model has, is that it is fine for a small garden, and the inbuilt secure run, means your chickens can have space to peck around when you aren't there. It is also possible to move them around the garden to stop one patch of grass from getting over-pecked. For a chicken's claws though, it is also important to offer them some hard standing surface to prevent the claws from becoming too long. Another advantage is that these chicken houses are usually one of the cheaper options, so a perfect classical option if you are on a budget.
With the model shown here, there is a ramp for the chickens to go from the upstairs to the downstairs. The upstairs being where they sleep. There is also a section at the end, for cozy roosting and egg laying.
The disadvantage of this model, from the point of view of a pet chicken owner, is that it would be more difficult to clean, than the hutch-style coop, or the Eglu. The shape makes it hard to bend over to give the living area a good clean. Wooden housing options tend to be more difficult to shift dried on matter, and the smell would definitely become an issue. It is also likely to become home to plenty of insects too. Make sure you use a hutch cleaner spray, after each clean to keep away nasty niffs and flies.
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Wooden Hutch-Style Coop
Costing anywhere from $280-$640 (£179-£400) depending on dimensions, the sizeable hutch-style chicken coop is one of the more expensive commercial chicken houses available. As always, you get what you pay for. The more expensive models will give your pet chickens more space, and will also be easier to clean, as it's likely to be at a human height. Which takes us straight to the next disadvantage of one of these models, in that you really need to have the space in your garden or smallholding to locate one.
Small models like the one pictured, are perfect for a couple of chickens, and offer safe and secure housing. These models offer a hutch and run in one unit, giving your chickens a certain amount of room to roam, which is ideal if you are out at work for most of the day. I'm making the assumption that most of you will be keeping and raising chickens for eggs, and letting your chickens out for more of a leg stretch in the garden, is always a good idea when you are home - happy hens lay more eggs (make sure their wings are clipped though!). The size of attached run on the model pictured, definitely isn't sufficient for pet chickens on a day-in day-out basis.
This model offers a ramp to the secure living quarters where your chickens will sleep, and the box to the side is the box where you should be able to collect eggs from everyday.
Make sure to look for a model with extra doors that can be accessed from the exterior, to make cleaning easier. As with the triangular ark style chicken house above, being made of wood, cleaning is a definite issue, and the main disadvantage it has compared to the Eglu.
Please continue to page 2, for the advantages and disadvantages of owning an Eglu chicken house.
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The Eglu chicken house is striking in design, but is it one of the best commercial chicken houses? We put the Eglu through its paces, looking at the disadvantages as well as the advantages of the Eglu to pet chickens and their owners. They are easy to clean, and offer your chickens room to roam, but are Eglus worth the price?
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Eglu Chicken House Review
Th e Eglu chicken house, is a very appealing commercial chicken house for many reasons. It is aesthetically pleasing, portable, and extremely easy to clean - chickens are such easy pets to look after anyway, why make cleaning more work than it needs to be.
There are many different Eglu models available now, from the highly portable Eglu Go, to the Eglu Classic, and the option for housing more chickens in an Eglu Cube. The Eglu classic (pictured), currently retails at $460.74 (£290), with 5 different color options. It can easily house 2-4 medium sized chickens, with extensions to the attached run being sold separately - the run you get with it is only really suitable for 2 chickens.
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Eglu - Easy to Clean
The Eglu was designed with the town-dwelling chicken pet owner in mind, hence the long run shape, which not only keeps the chickens happy, it is easy to find space for in the garden. The Eglu unit itself has a domed shape, and the top can be easily removed, leaving the nesting box and roosting bars exposed for easy cleaning. All components of the Eglu are plastic which makes cleaning easy, especially with the slide-out poop tray feature. You can empty out the droppings every few days, without the need for a full scale clean. When weekly cleaning time comes around, you will find it so much easier, and less stinky if you have been emptying the droppings out regularly.
Roosting bars, can be easily lifted out of the Eglu, to give them a scrape and wash once a week, and that's your cleaning done.
Egg collection, is also a breeze and there is a special hatch on the side of the Eglu, that just gives access to the nesting area.
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Eglu - Disadvantages & Extras
The only disadvantage about the Eglu chicken house is that it is easy for the doorway to get clogged up with straw or bark, making closing the chickens up at night a bit tricky sometimes - the attached run makes it difficult to access this area. Another minor quibble is the locking key that keeps the Eglu roof securely attached to the base, is sometimes difficult to re-insert after a clean. However, the roof is a snug fit and is unlikely to move, even with the locking-pin absent.
Extra "Grub" and "Glug" (food and water) bowls and many other extras such as run extensions, are available from Omlet, the manufacturers of the Eglu, although they are very sturdy and shouldn't need replacing for years (you can buy different colors to mix up your color scheme though!).
Although I'd highly recommend in the Eglu range of commercial chicken houses, it is obviously important that you pick the right chicken house for you and your chickens. Consider how many chickens you have, what size area you have available to locate a chicken house, and how much time you can give to cleaning, before making a decision.
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For the town pet owner, with little space and only time for cleaning their pet chickens at the weekend, then the easy cleaning Eglu would be the best choice of commercially available chicken houses. If you have a large area of garden, and have the time to let your chickens out into the garden for a run around each day, and don't mind the usual smelly job of cleaning that comes with owning pets, then the more traditional wooden type house would be for you. Whatever choice you make remember that chickens don't just leave poop behind in their houses, they leave delicious eggs too!
If you haven't done so already, then please see page 1, for a rundown of other commercially available chicken houses.
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Resources & Image Credits
Triangular Ark by Moorlands Poultry
Chicken Coop by Hutch Company
Purple Eglu images (first two), Author's own.
All Eglu images (apart from the first two), are courtesy of Omlet.
The Right Way to Keep Chickens by Virginia Shirt, RIght Way, 2007.