Product Review: The Saltbox Coop from My Pet Chicken


A few of my clients have purchased “The Saltbox” coop from the My Pet Chicken site.

I had hoped to provide a product review on the  site, but there is no space to do so. so I’m posting a review below.

I do not recommend the Saltbox coop for a number of reasons.

1. The coop is too small for “3-4 hens” as it is advertised. This coop is not adequate housing for 3-4 hens, with or without a run. This product is poorly categorized and advertised. The following paragraph from the website is misleading:

Designed for up to 4 chickens
With plenty of roosting and nesting space, you can happily house up to four standard-size chickens, or up to six bantams. Keep in mind this coop, like every coop we sell at My Pet Chicken, is NOT intended for full-time confinement. The run is convenient when you can’t let your flock roam freely, but make sure your flock has several hours per day outside.

This coop is too tiny for 1-2 hens, even with a run.

The paragraph that follows recommends it as a broody box or hospital, which is a more accurate description.It also suggests that you’ll get a bigger coop soon.

We love this model for first-timers because it offers inexpensive entree into the hobby. If you’re like most of our customers, you’ll double or triple your flock within a few years, and you’ll end up having to build or buy a larger coop – but you’ll love having this one on hand. Whether you use it to isolate an injured or sick bird, to give a broody hen the space to hatch her own babies, or to transition new juvenile chicks to life “outdoors” while protecting them from your established flock, you’ll always be glad to have it around!

So why spend $400 on this one now? Better to spend a little more or pay someone to make it and get a more permanent solution!

2. The roosting and nesting area is not adequately ventilated. The hens will suffocate or die of heatstroke in the summer if the door is kept closed at night! A good coop needs to have some sort of ventilation/crossbreeze. I was assuming the window could be opened, but it cannot be.

3. The latches on the side doors are not “predator proof,” as advertised. A smart raccoon would figure out how to open these latches. They are well within easy reach of the roof. The kind of latches on the nesting box should be used on all doors to the coop.

4. The predrilled holes for the hardware are not properly placed. Once installed, the latches did not close at all for one of my clients, and the other client has to work at it to get the latch closed on the door to the roost area.

5. The wood splinters easily. My clients had splintering where they inserted the screws, and at the corners of the lift-off nest box lid. A hardwood, rather than a softwood,should have been used.

6. The drop tray is not deep enough to slide out with all the poop and bedding on it. It is far too shallow.It should be 1 1/2 – 2 inches deep to handle chicken litter.

7. There is no room to put the feeding/watering dishes, either hanging or on the ground. The site recommends, and my client purchased, the 11lb plastic feeder. However, if you add that to the enclosed wire area, that reduces the already scarce space. With the feeder and the waterer in this tiny coop, we would be better off raising quail! There is no room for the feeder, waterer, and 2 birds, let alone 4. Also, the frame and wood do not appear adequate to support a hanging feeder. They certainly could not support the hanging waterer.

8. The plastic waterer and feeder barely fit through the door. They have to be tilted sideways to fit through the door.

Poor product, misleading advertising! I’d be suspicious of their other coops’ quality and advertising claims, too.

9 responses to this post.

  1. I won this coop, so I didn’t buy it. It is just another addition to my large run.All very true. Only my modern game hens go in it to lay. I added vents, I do not put any feeders or waterers in it “no room”. I had to replace the latch’s as they fell apart, added hasps to lock it up and the plactic window had cracks in it. It is a fair addition for bantam hens to get away from the flock. Not suited for full size chickens, even one.

    Reply

  2. Posted by Jan Happel on July 29, 2011 at 10:02 am

    Interesting. We actually purchased The Clubhouse. It appeared to be bigger than the Saltbox, but not much. We added the hardware cloth on the bottom so preditors would not go in. We only had one bad case in the beginning where we did not screw down the roof of the hen house. A craft coon got in and you know the rest. We purchased three more hens around the same age and they seem to be doing okay. They sleep in the hen house at night but go out to their run during the day. I do keep a thermometer inside so I know they are not roasting. There are two windows (one on either side) that slide open. I keep an ice bottle inside if it gets just too hot. I’ve also kept one in the run (I call it the playground) and they seem to appreciate that. The playground also has a pool (a large 2″ deep saucer). :)

    It does seem to be a bit cramped in the hen house; nesting area especially. I am hoping for eggs within the next month. All three girls like to sleep in one nesting box, which seems weird to me. As far as food is concerned, I added a hook on the inside by the bottom run and purchased the smaller feeder at Belmont F&S. I keep changing their water and still using the mason jars with the screw tops. They don’t really drink a whole lot. They seem to love their run next to the coop. This is where they scratch and dig for worms/bugs. I feed them organic vegetables from the garden, bulger wheat (tabbouleh) and they love watermelon. They are addicted to garlic chives and I need to correct this when they start to produce. However, I do need to find a decent organic feed for layers. The most recent one I purchased (not organic) was just pellets and they don’t seem to like that. The other feed I purchased from The Feed Store had a lot of mixed seed – almost like Blue Jay or Cardinal food. However the girls seemed to like this but scrached it all out of the feeder…just like the wild birds do! Urrrgh! They eat what they want. Do you have any pictures of the feed you serve them? A close up view might be helpful.
    jh

    Reply

    • Jan – I believe Belmont Feed and Seed has crumble, and they definitely have pellets. The Feed Store has a crumble, as well as a crumble mixed with cracked grains. Both sell organic and non-organic. The Belmont store’s prices are about the same for organic vs. non. Seed is high in fat, and I recommend it as a treat only. A laying mash should be the primary source of food for laying hens, as it contains proper ratios of Ca, Mg, and K. Have you tried the chick grower mix at Belmont?

      Reply

    • Posted by Tara on August 1, 2011 at 11:10 am

      Hi Jan, I’ve had chickens for three years, and I don’t think it’s unusual for all the girls to pile into the nest box all at once.As they get bigger, fewer will fit in there at once, but they’ll still try. I think they feel safe and secure all scrunched in there. If it bothers you, you can always add another nest box or examine your roost situation to see why they aren’t sleeping there (too high, too low, ceiling too close, etc.). In the winter they may still choose to pile up in the nest box to get warm. John, at Backyard Chicken Run home delivers organic crumbles.
      -Tara

      Reply

    • Posted by Jeff on March 23, 2012 at 11:16 pm

      Jan,
      I’m curious to see how your Clubhouse has held up? Not sure if you had any winter/snow and cold weather to test it. We’re in Idaho and have snow/cold weather concerns along with predators. We are choosing between the Clubhouse or one of the comparable coops from The Green Chicken Coop. We like how the Clubhouse has the lower shaded area. Would enjoy hearing your report.
      Thanks!

      Reply

      • Hi Jeff: We have been happy with The Clubhouse. After all, the house itself is nothing more than a bedroom for the three girls. I was worried about the size at first, especially when the girls started growing. But size doesn’t matter – they all sleep in one nesting box, then take turns on the roost and the other nesting box. Their body temperature is higher than humans, so that little box is actually okay for just three hens. It keeps the heat contained in a small room. I kept the two slide windows (not the slide door) open all winter long, no matter how cold it got. I did add some weather sealant strips by the nesting box lid and by the front door, and added some plastic sheeting on top of the coop to keep the rain out. I found out that the coop does drip here and there. However, a little bit of winter air is actually good. Humans forget how many feathers they have. They are just large, and quite domestic birds with a feather down jacket surrounding them. We also have an 8′ x 3′ rectangular run surrounded with chicken wire on three sides that is attached to The Clubhouse. We added 4ml plastic sheeting around the run to keep the snow/rain out. I also threw in an old stump and partial straw bails that keeps them entertained when not out running around. I use straw in the run and wood shavings in the coop. Hens need to dig and scratch–that is their lot in life. I let them have the run of my fenced in winter garden. I have a couple of hoop houses that have kept some vegetables growing all winter and the girls have not bothered them too much. Now that the weather has been very warm, I just let them out in the back yard to feast on bugs and seeds. They have helped this gardener remove some of the fallen leaves and died off plants.
        On the coop: I would like to heighten the coop a bit; raise it up on a platform. It helps that I am short, but my knees are not what they use to be. It helps to have a chair or stoop to sit on while you’re cleaning the coop. Maintenance, like any pet box, needs to be on a regular basis. Just picking out the poop every other day helps. We have not had any more preditors (that we are aware of) other than skunks ocassionally in the run to eat the seeds. They are usually gone by morning. There are hawks in the neighborhood but we have a lot of trees/wires for blocking a hawks flight. For an Illinois suburban lot, ours is 71×205 deep with lots of foliage and large garden. The back yard has soe fencing and so does the garden. The coop/run is nestled next to my neighbors garage, about 6 feet away. They have large aborvitaes growing by the garage, along with my holly and pines. So there is lots of northern wind/snow blockage. For preditors, I have the solar red-flashing “night eyes”, a solar motion detector flood light and an infared motion detector. So I think the coop is well secured. If anything is back there, we will know about it. I have seen coyotes, red foxes, opposums and hawks, but not in our yard; so our girls are okay for now. We have become very attached to our Barred Rock, Silver Wyandotte and Golden Wyandotte. It is a bit like having a mini-farm….you need friends to help take care of them and our dog when we are gone. I didn’t worry about the dog so much, but the hens are another issue. Good luck, Jeff. LIFE IS GOOD.

  3. Posted by Jan Happel on August 2, 2011 at 8:32 am

    Thanks Tara. The girls are managing the summer. I keep the pool filled with water and they do what chickens do – scratch and dig and fill up the pool with straw and dirt. (Bad little girls!) I keep frozen water bottles in the hen house at night. As long as I haven’t killed one of them, I figure I’m doing okay. Thanks again.
    j

    Reply

  4. Wow, I’m happy I found this review as this is the coop I was thinking of purchasing since MPC has it on sale now for $299: cheaper than the materials would be for building my own!

    I now know why it is on sale…thanks!

    t

    Reply

    • Hi,
      Glad that was helpful! I imagine the other coops they offer have similar issues!
      Check out Judy Pangman’s book with 45 coop designs (see the Resources tab).
      Good luck!
      Jen

      Reply

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