The chicken coop is likely to be the most expensive item we'll buy for our chickens, so we need to know it's going both to last for years, and provide everything they need to keep them safe and healthy.
Omlet is a company formed in 2003 by a group of design students in London, England, who wanted to design the ideal urban chicken coop. And so, the original Eglu was born.
They now produce different types of coop, including the small Eglu Go, a chicken coop for up to four chickens; the larger Eglu Cube which houses up to ten; and the addition of wheels to turn them all into mobile chicken coops.
Not to mention Eglu beehives, rabbit hutches and even hamster cages!
No matter the size and shape, all Eglu chicken coop designs have the same construction specifications.
Are they the best? Here's my review of the Omlet chicken coop manufacture and designs.
Omlet chicken coops are incredibly well made and hard-wearing. I've had my Eglu Cube for nearly ten years now. It's been outside in the fairly extreme temperatures of Italy, and it's showing no signs of wear.
That's because Omlet's products are designed from a tough but low energy plastic called polyethylene. It's both resilient and eco-friendly, since it's made at low temperatures and not under pressure, and it's 100% recyclable without using any chemicals(4).
So it's relatively "green" in production. But how does it measure up to welfare requirements?
The coops come as a kit which you'll need to put together yourself. The pieces interlock, so there's no spaces for rain, snow or bird droppings – or any other external matter – to get in.
Apart from the open door, of course. More about security later in this article.
This is one of the most important considerations for any coop. The regulations are very specific:
"Buildings must be designed, constructed, maintained and sited to: a) protect hens from thermal discomfort b) be suitable for local weather conditions and withstand expected seasonal extremes of weather...
Provision must be made to ensure that hens have access to a thermally comfortable environment at all times, so that heat/cold stress does not occur."(3)
It's also suggested that they should have internal membranes so that they're better insulated to strengthen insulation against weather extremes, and also to help soundproof against noise, which can cause unnecessary stress to poultry(1).
All Omlet coops are built with double walled insulation. It works something like window double glazing, keeping cold – or hot – air out of the coop.
In the winter, it traps your chickens' body heat inside so it keeps them warm without any additional protection. Although if you have a particularly cold climate, or if you only have a very few chickens in one of the larger coops, it's possible to buy an Extreme Weather Protection cover.
In hot weather, the insulation system keeps the warm air out and combines with the coop's vents to allow the hens' warm air to escape while fresh air comes in. It's highly efficient.
Part of any designs for a chicken coop must include ventilation. Without it, heat will build up in summer and moisture in winter, creating the possibility of heatstroke at one extreme and frostbite at the other.
Welfare regulations state that...
And as climate change creates ever more extremes of temperature, making sure of adequate ventilation will become increasingly important.
To be effective, ventilation needs to be positioned so as to allow air to freely flow through the coop, but at a height which doesn't chill the chickens.
The Omlet coops have three vents: a large one at the front, and one at each side. As you can see from this photo of my Eglu Cube, the vents are situated above the head height of the chickens.
So, good ventilation and no draughts. Exactly what the welfare regulations suggest is the best position for a comfortable, safe coop.
The perches of all Omlet's coops are designed identically and made in the same materials as the coop shell.
The perches form the floor of the main body of the coops, and sit above the droppings board. Both are removable for cleaning.
I prefer my large chicken house roosting bars to be slightly wider. However, as the Eglu perches are all on the same level, it's easy for chickens to hunker down over their feet, as they prefer to do in cold weather.
Please note that the perch design is not suitable for baby chicks under about 12 weeks old. They are likely to slip between the bars and injure their legs.
If you have babies, remove the perch section and add a non-slip cover and bedding to the lower floor (which would normally be the droppings board).
The nest box areas are different designs depending on the coop, but they all match these welfare requirements:
There's a potential drawback to the nesting area in that no matter which coop, there is only one for all the hens. That may lead to hens laying outside.
Having said that, I have always found my Eglu hens lay inside. Anyone who's had chickens will know that they often prefer to lay in the same box – no matter how many you provide!
This is, of course, one of the most important criteria when choosing a chicken coop. How predator proof is it?
The welfare requirements here are very general. A coop should...
And again, the Eglu meets those requirements easily.
Coops must be...
Because the Omlet coops can be taken apart, they're incredibly easy to keep clean. I use a pressure washer and allow the separate parts to dry in the open air.
It takes a matter of minutes.
My only issue with washing is that the nest box does not have a drainage hole. You can see in the photo above that the water collects in the nest box (on the left).
So rather than leaving it to dry, I use a sponge to wash it, then towel dry.
Linked to cleaning is the need to limit disease. The ideal chicken coop should...
I consider this to be one of the greatest advantages of the Omlet coops. As well as the Cube, I house my chickens in a large, stone built coop and have a third, wooden coop which I use as a hospital.
Both of them are a nightmare in terms of infestations. Stone and wood provide ideal hiding places for mites and lice and are very difficult to treat.
The Omlet coops, on the other hand, have nowhere for bugs to hide. Their smooth surfaces provide no nooks and crannies, and the fact that they can be dismantled for cleaning means regular disinfecting is a breeze.
As an added bonus, the plastic from which they're built will not rot. So there are no obstacles to pressure washing.
Need more evidence? Take a look at Omlet's short video.
If you've read any of my other product reviews, you'll know that I have a "Golden Egg Award" where one egg means "don't go near this product!", and five means "get out there now and buy it!"
They're expensive, but in my view their benefits far outweigh the cost. The materials and design together mean they should last for years, whereas a wooden coop, for example, will have a life of between five and eight years, even if cared for well, and don't provide the same benefits.
1. Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs: Poultry Welfare Codes – Housing Design. Pub. UK Government, 2019.
2. Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals: The best environment for keeping pet chickens. Pub. RSPCA, 2022.
3. Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals: The 5 welfare standards for laying chickens. Pub. RSPCA, updated 2022.
4. Omlet: Chicken coops.