Plastic Chicken Coops: Practical or Problematic?

Collage of chicken and two coops made from Plastic materials

Thinking about buying a plastic chicken coop?

Some folks love the convenience of an easy to assemble, chicken coop. And plastic is affordable, so choosing coops made from this material to house your chickens can be cost-effective as well.

However, many experienced chicken owners warn about the potential pitfalls of buying these prefab chicken coops. Let’s take a look at the ongoing debate to see if buying a plastic chicken coop is right for you.

What to Consider When Buying a Plastic Chicken Coop

What features are important to look for when you are choosing a plastic chicken coop?

1. Size

When debating whether or not plastic makes a good house for chickens, the issue most chicken farmers raise is the size. Some product manufacturers use the very minimum guidelines when estimating the number of chickens that will fit inside the coop.

lots of chickens in a small space
Having too many chickens in one coop can cause tension and lead to illness or reduced laying when something goes wrong.

Experienced owners recommend at least four feet per bird. And unfortunately, you will see many coops advertise that they will fit twice as many chickens as is really practical or healthy for your birds.

And while the number of chickens that will fit inside a coop does depend on while a few factors, like breed, weather, run space, etc. It is always more practical to size up, not down.

So, choose a chicken coop that has the right dimensions for your yard and enough room for all of your chickens to live comfortably together.

2. Ease Of Setup

The draw of using a chicken coop kit is that they are easier to put together. For example one of the biggest marketing features of the SnapLock brand is that it is easy to put together.

And more owners agree plastic coops are super simple to put together. However, there is a lot of variation in terms of how long it takes to set up a plastic chicken coop, and how complex the process is.

Scan the reviews to see if there are any major complaints in this area, just to be sure.

3. Ease Of Cleaning

Some coops have useful features like removable components that make for fast, easy cleaning. And plastic is known for being super easy to clean.

In fact, some owners prefer to keep a plastic chicken coop on hand to use as an infirmary. Once the chicken has recovered, you can scrub it down and sterilize the surfaces easier than you can with a wooden chicken coop.

The thing to look for is how easy is it to get inside the coop to clean it. And can you take it apart? If you can’t open the top or a side panel, or there are little nooks and crannies that are hard to access, it may not be as easy to clean it as anticipated.

4. Weight

How heavy a plastic chicken coop is may be important if you think you will need to move it around the yard often, or if you will be the only person working on setup.

Plastic is a nice lightweight material, so this is typically a strong selling point. What to look for here are how big the pieces are and how they fit together.

5. Roosting Bars

chicken sitting on a roosting bar

How many roosting bars do you need? Make sure the coop you are thinking about getting has enough.

One foot of roosting space per bird is a good guideline. The roosts should also have clearance from the walls and roof, so your chickens can move around comfortably.

Since many chicken coops made of plastic are on the smaller side, there could be limited room for roosting. This is more important for laying hens vs broilers.

6. Material

If you are interested in buying plastic due to its eco-friendly nature, make sure to double-check the specs. Not all plastic is responsibly sourced.

Some products are also made of blends of plastic and other fibrous materials. Make sure that you are purchasing a product that is sturdy, long-lasting, and environmentally friendly.

7. Security

raccoon trying to get in the fence

Are there predators living in your area? Plastic is generally pretty secure since it doesn’t rot or degrade over time.

Try and find a coop that has lockable entrances and other features that help keep your chickens safe. For example, the Eglu Cube by Omlet we discuss below has an anti-tunnel skirt to help protect against digging predators.

8. Insulation and Ventilation

Access to fresh air is always important for your chicken’s health. However, this is a balance between keeping your chickens at the right temperature without exposing them to drafts.

Make sure that your coop is insulated well enough to stay warm during the winter, but ventilated sufficiently to stay cool during the summer.

Pros and Cons of Plastic Chicken Coops

grey ecoflex chicken coop with birds foraging in the grass

In case you still are not sure whether you want plastic or a different material for your chicken coop, let’s quickly go over the pros and cons of this material.

Advantages of Using a Chicken Coop Made From Plastic

The nature of plastic makes it an attractive option for several reasons – easy to clean, put together and stow away.

1. Easy to Clean

  • Plastic does not have the same porous nature that wood does, so it is much easier to clean. And it dries a lot faster too!
  • While not entirely mite-proof, plastic can be easier to remove red mites from than wood.
  • Plastic does not rot when exposed to moisture like wood sometimes does.

2. Lightweight and Portable

  • Most plastic coops are designed to be lightweight and portable.
  • When needed you can also disassemble the units and stack it away.

3. Great Option for a Second Coop

At times, chickens need to be separated. And this is one use case where a plastic coop is a great fit.

  • Use it to house new chickens before you integrate them into the main coop
  • Create a temporarily shelter for a chicken that needs a quiet place to rest or recover from an injury.
  • Can be setup quickly and serve as a temporary house while you are cleaning or making repairs to the main coop.

Plastic Chicken Coop Disadvantages

While plastic can be very tempting with its many advantages, there are some gotchas to be on the lookout for. Here are the top three.

1. Too Small

The biggest complaint of owners that bought a plastic chicken coop was that was too small.

Instead of relying on the “advertised” number of chickens that can fit, do a few calculations of your own.

Allow at least four square feet of floor space per bird as a general rule of thumb.

If you squeeze too many chickens into a small coop it can lead to a whole host of problems.

2. Not Easily Scalable

The second biggest complaint is outgrowing the coop too soon. Always factor in a few more chickens than originally planned when choosing a size.

If you spend any time in the popular chicken raising forums, you will find dozens of threads with people who bought a plastic coop, then realized within the first year they needed more space.

It is much easier to add additional square footage to a wooden chicken coop. With plastic, it is much harder to knock out a wall for an addition. The best you can usually do is add additional run space or buy a second chicken coop.

3. Improper Ventilation

While plastic can provide good insulation, it also can overheat without adequate ventilation. Plastic just doesn’t breathe the way wood does.

Pay special attention to the vents provided and leave them open when possible to ensure your chickens are getting enough fresh air.

Two Popular Brands and Models

Here are two plastic chicken coop kits that are popular in the poultry community. You’ll notice that both are the “larger” size offered by the manufacturer.

1. SnapLock Large Plastic Chicken Coop, COOP33

Worried about predators getting at your chickens? Give them the extra protection they need with a snap-lock chicken coop like the COOP11.

Note that you need to build your own stand. Also, when you set up this coop, make sure that there is adequate clearance for cleaning and egg collection.

Features

  • Dimensions are approximately 5.33 x 3.66 feet
  • Removable litter and nesting trays
  • 3 roosting bar inside
  • 4 doors
  • Made in the USA

Pros

  • Assembly is rapid with snap-together parts. The manufacturer states that you can have your coop ready to go in minutes and reviewers agree.
  • Easy to clean, especially if you use a pressure washer.
  • The double-wall construction can hold up well to the elements. It also can tolerate hot and cold temperatures.
  • You can adjust the ventilation inside the coop.
  • It is possible to lock all the access points to the coop to keep your chickens secure.

Cons

  • Small nesting area – 12 x 12 inches.
  • Advertised for 12 chickens, but 5 or 6 is a better fit.
  • Several folks mentioned the base was a little flimsy.
  • You do not get a pre-manufactured stand with this product. You do get plans, but you have to build a stand on your own. So, that is an extra hassle you need to be ready for when you choose this coop.

Best For

If you need extra security for your chickens, the Snap Lock Regular Plastic Coop, COOP11 may be an ideal choice. Predators will not be able to get inside to eat your chickens, nor will your chickens be able to wander where they will be unsafe.

2. Omlet Eglu Cube® – Large Chicken Coop

Omlet chicken coops are arguably the best-known plastic chicken coops around. The Omlet Eglu Cube® – Large Chicken Coop is the one to choose if you need to accommodate a small backyard flock.

Features

  • Square footage of the interior is: about 15 square feet.
  • The dimensions are: 2 ft 10 inches wide x 2 ft 11 inches wide and 1 ft 10 inches tall.
  • The optional run is made of heavy-duty steel.
  • The coop features wheels and run handles for easy portability.

Pros

  • The anti-tunnel skirt helps to keep predators away from your chickens when they are in the run.
  • The Eglu Cube features a powerful twin wall insulation system to ensure that chickens stay comfortable in all seasons.
  • You can choose green or red for your coop. The colors really stand out from any other brand on the market.
  • There are many customizable options. Add a 6, 9 or 13 foot run to suit your needs.
  • Omlet has a great reputation for customer service, so if you need assistance at any point with your coop, you can expect a fast, helpful response.

Cons

  • The square footage of the interior is limited.
  • Omlet claims you can complete assembly within several hours. But a lot of buyers say it takes longer than that to get everything set up.
  • You might have trouble changing the bedding. Using a dustpan to get it out can help.

Is a Plastic Chicken Coop Right For You?

Now you know what to look for when you are shopping for a plastic chicken coop, and you have had a chance to check out a few of the top products on the market.

To see more great chicken coop designs, check out our home page to see the wide variety of chicken coop styles and sizes. We’re sure you’ll find the right fit for your flock.

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Plastic Chicken Coops - Are they a good choice for your hens
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