Tag Archive for: chicken coop

Keeping chickens: Omlet walk-in run and PoleTree review

I dreamed of keeping chickens for a good fifteen years before I finally had the space and time to accommodate them. And it’s the best decision I ever made – they are such fluffy bundles of sass and personality and charm. They make me laugh every day.

Two-and-a-half years ago, my first little flock (consisting of three geriatric chickens and a teenager) moved in.

In the time since then, my setup has changed considerably. Two of those original old ladies have passed away (both of natural causes/old age), but my flock has expanded a little as new girls moved in. I’ve increased the space, changed the run to a walk-in run, and tweaked a lot of things to improve how things work, how things look and how protected the chickens are.

I’ve been asked a lot of questions about my current setup, so I’ve finally made time to share some pictures and write a proper review.

This post contains affiliate links.

My original chicken coop and run setup

I started out with a second-hand coop and run that was gifted to me by one of my lovely readers, when I first mentioned I was thinking of getting chickens. (The company that sold it has apparently since gone bust, so I won’t name them or provide a link.)

It was a big wooden coop with an attached run measuring about 9.84 ft long by 3.28 ft wide / 3m long by 1m wide (plus another 10 square feet / 1 square meter of space under the coop).

The coop itself is big enough to house 12 chickens in a warm climate like here, as the weather is mild enough for them to be outside all year during the day, so they only use the house for sleeping and the attached nest boxes for laying.

But the run was pretty small. It was the absolute minimum recommended outdoor/run space for a chicken (which is 8 – 10 square feet/1 square metre per bird). I rigged up a fenced area outside the run so they had more space to roam which more than doubled the space.

The fence wasn’t particularly high, and for the ladies to be able to access it I had to open the door to the run, so it wasn’t secure from predators, which meant if I was away I’d need to keep them cooped up.

It worked for a while with my original girls, but then Dorothy and Betty moved in.

And I hadn’t counted on Betty.

Betty the chicken is possibly the most contrary chicken on the planet. She is the smallest, lowest-ranked but most adventurous of the flock, and has made it her life’s work to break free of wherever she might be confined. She likes to be wherever I do not wish her to be.

She can fly over the fence, wriggle under the fence and squeeze through gaps in the fence. She also seems to be able to teleport.

The only time she’s ever willingly hanging out in the enclosed run is when I’ve decided everyone can free range on the lawn.

The problem with the constant escaping is that once she’s out she can’t get back in, and ‘in’ is where all the food and water is. Plus it’s where the house is. She has slept 10 feet / 3 metres up a tree overnight several times, and she’s lucky no-one has tried to eat her.

Wanting something bigger and more secure to protect the ladies better was my first reason for deciding to upgrade the run.

The second was that the low run was really, really tricky to clean. It was hard enough to squeeze through the door to rake it out; but the fixed perch in the middle was a particular pain as I had to crawl under it to clean out under the house.

There’s plenty of guides that will tell you that you don’t need a tall run for chickens as they are only 50cm high, but if you want to be able to get in there yourself, it needs to be human size.

Looking at walk-in run options

Finding a bigger run with a roof proved more difficult than expected, because of the constraints I had with the available space. My coop (which I didn’t need/want to replace) was in a fixed position, and the door to the run had to go in a particular spot on the side, because the bore cover stopped it going on the end. Plus I now had to navigate around the various trees I’d planted!

Many of the metal runs had a door on the end, often because the roof pitched in the middle (so the sides were too low for a door). The pre-made wooden ones were all too small, too flimsy and expensive for what you bought. Plus I’d need to assemble them, oil them, and maintain them every spring.

I’d pretty much relented to hiring someone to build a solid timber framed run for me, but finding someone willing to do the job proved challenging. Some tradespeople wouldn’t even come to look, a couple of people turned it down as it was more than a day’s work, and when I eventually found someone their wait time was 6 – 9 months. And the quote wasn’t cheap.

And then I found the Omlet walk-in chicken run, which is a modular mesh panel system with the option to design to fit your space, and put the door where you actually want it to go. It ticked all my boxes, and although it’s not cheap, I could cover a bigger area whilst paying much less than if I’d hired someone.

And I could build it pretty much straightaway.

Omlet walk-in chicken run review

When I bought the Omlet walk-in chicken run it felt like a lot of money (well, it was a lot of money!) but as soon as I’d put it together I knew I’d made the right choice, and my only regret is not getting it sooner.

I’ve had it for a year now, and it’s been great.

The secured area outside the coop is now 118 square feet / 11 square metres (so almost triple the original secure space), and completely Betty proof.

The run comes as painted steel poles and mesh panels that hold together with plastic clips. You don’t need any power tools or DIY skills to assemble. It sounds flimsy but once it’s all together it’s pretty sturdy – much more so than the wooden one I previously owned, which was quite ricketty. The Omlet run has also got a mesh roof, so it’s completely enclosed.

There’s also a mesh skirt around the base which the bottom panels attach to and helps provide some stability as well as stopping foxes or dogs digging under. (Well this is supposed to be the case, but I do not live in an area with foxes so luckily I’ve never had to put this to the test.)

The Omlet website has a useful design tool to help you decide what size and height you need. The run can be two or three panels wide, and as long as you want. Although it isn’t clear on the website, the door simply replaces two vertical panels and so can be positioned anywhere on the run.

Omlet also sell a half-height run, and I chose to use both the full height and half height to maximize the area for the girls but without having such an imposing structure in the yard. (It’s also cheaper to buy the half-height run, as it uses less materials.)

I purchased a 2 panel x 3 panel walk-in run, and a 2 panel x 3 panel half-height run. Rather than attaching them together as two rectangles, I attached four panels from the low run (in a square arrangement) and offset it to the walk in-run. I used the remaining two ‘blocks’ and ran them parallel to one another to create a half height side area closer to the neighbours fence. It meant being a little creative with the skirting (which you need to attach the lower panels), and took a bit of planning, but it meant I could build the coop around the bore cover without blocking the footpath.

I also removed a few panels to create “rooms”.

I had to flip a few of the skirt pieces the other way to accommodate some buried wooden garden bed edges and the “rooms”, but this doesn’t affect stability. I don’t think it would be possible to remove them completely unless you build a foundation for the panels to sit on, but flipping a couple to the inside is fine.

Because my soil is very sandy I’ve placed bricks under the poles so they don’t sink.

The half height run also came with it’s own half-height door, and I have installed this at the back of the full height run, which can be opened so the ladies can access a larger free range area via a passageway behind the shed. It’s netted over the top, and fenced, but unfortunately it’s not Betty-proof (yet), as much as I’ve tried.

The other great thing about the Omlet walk-in run – and this is true about any/all modular systems – is that it can be added to at a later date, or changed around. In theory it can be dismantled completely and would practically flat-pack, but it was not a fast job to put it together and I have no desire to dismantle it any time soon.

But unlike a solid wooden run, if I needed to relocate it, I could.

You can attach the walk-in run to the Omlet Eglu and Cube coops with customised mesh that fits exactly. I wanted to keep the original wooden coop, so I simply removed one of the panels so that the ladies could access the wooden coop. I used two pieces of skirt I hadn’t needed because of the rooms to make the sides.

There was a gap at the top and within about 10 seconds Betty had figured how to get out from this point (of course she had) so I’ve since enclosed that part too.

There’s no maintenance with Omlet products, unlike wood – although it’s possible in future I’ll need to replace the plastic clips if they deteriorate. In fact, this is the only thing I wish they did differently – provide metal clips instead of plastic ones. But when it comes to replacements, wire or cable ties may be able to do the job, if necessary.

Since buying it last year, I’ve also bought a couple of perches and a couple of heavy duty rain covers (which also help create shade in summer).

Chicken entertainment: the Pole Tree chicken perch review

When you’re 2 feet / 50cm tall (because you’re a chicken) and your coop is 7 feet / 2m+ tall, that’s a lot of wasted space, and I wanted to add something to provide some amenity and entertainment for the ladies.

I’ve planted a fig tree in the coop to provide shade and hopefully (eventually) branches the chickens can climb on, but it’s growing very, very slowly. I used upturned hanging baskets tied together and laid at the base to protect the roots for the first year, so the ladies haven’t been able to dig it up, which is a start. I’m hopeful it will eventually provide for them.

I purchased a second-hand wooden ladder for them to perch and even roost on (I saw some very cool pictures on Pinterest), but it was snubbed by pretty much all of them. Clearly they haven’t been looking at Pinterest.

I could lure my greediest chicken up to the top with kale, and Betty would occasionally survey her kingdom from the top, but none of the others went near it.

And then Omlet launched a new product called the Pole Tree, and I was given the opportunity to review it on social media. So unlike the walk-in run, which I purchased myself, the Pole Tree was gifted to me.

The Pole Tree an uber-customizable chicken perching system to go inside a coop or run. It works perfectly with the Omlet walk-in run, as you’d expect, but it can be used with any run (including non-mesh runs).

You buy one or more vertical poles which can be fitted to a mesh coop like mine (or a wooden coop, brick, or plaster- there’s different fittings depending). The poles range from 8.6 ft – 14.5 ft / 1.7 – 2.6m, and there are wall brackets for the taller ones.

Once you’ve got the pole or poles in place, you can add perches. 

There are three types of perch: short ones that only attach to the upright pole, and longer ones that either attach between two poles, or from the pole to the side of the run (or coop/wall).

And the Pole Tree is completely modular, so you can start small and add new perches (or additional poles) later, or move perches/poles that you’ve already positioned if you decide they’d be suited to a better spot. 

The only thing you need to assemble it is a screwdriver.

The Omlet website has a few ready-made sets as examples, but also a tool that lets you customise the design to suit your space. Which is what I did.

I have two vertical poles, which I’ve placed on large concrete slabs so the chickens can’t tunnel underneath or dislodge them (I’m on very sandy soil). The horizontal poles are at varying heights to accommodate my 8-year old geriatric ladies who aren’t adventuring to dizzy heights any more, and the younger girls who like to sit high up. 

I have one pole-to-pole perch, and two pole-to-run perches. And I also have six short perches.

I’ve positioned these shorter ones in a staggered position so the chickens can climb up like a ladder, and I’ve tried to be mindful that any chicken sitting on a perch won’t be able to poop on another chicken sitting underneath.

I also added treat dishes to encourage them to use it, but I needn’t have worried – my ladies were clambering all over it before I’d even finished putting it together!

They absolutely love it. It’s currently too cold for them to sleep outdoors, but I am sure that in summer it will become a popular sleeping spot too.

The Pole Tree has created so much more space in the run for the chickens. There’s now an extensive climbing frame for entertainment, and a place for the lower ranked chickens (like Betty) to hide from the bossy chickens.

The short poles have pre-drilled holes at the end for hanging items such as feeders or snacks, but things that swing are currently too alarming for my girls so that’s fun that will be saved for later.

If, like me, you consider your chickens to be pets and part of the family, want to give them space, comfort and enrichment, and don’t have the tools and DIY skills to build something from scratch, I think the Omlet products are a great option.

*As part of the launch of the Pole Tree, Omlet have kindly provided a 10% discount code for my readers that can be used on all products on the Omlet website. Expires 31st July 2022. Visit their website: Omlet USA / Omlet UK / Omlet Australia and use the code TMOP10. *

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Keeping chickens: an Omlet Eglu Chicken Coop Review

This post is a collaboration with Omlet.

If there is one thing that’s unexpectedly brightened up my 2020, it’s chickens. Adopting chickens back in February was (probably) the best decision I made this year. These adorable, quirky little birds are just bursting with personality, and I really can’t imagine being without them.

And now I’m ready to improve my set-up and expand my flock.

Chickens like to be with other chickens… except when those chickens are new, or sick. In which case, chickens like to decide to demonstrate who is boss by mercilessly attacking the other chickens. (Eventually, a new status quo is established, but it’s pretty brutal in the moment.)

Back in February I started out with 4 chickens, but Billina sadly died of old age in September. She was sick off and on for the last few months, which involved quarantining (in a converted cardboard box in my office) and then reintroducing her to the flock a number of times – and in the space of just a week she’d go from accepted member of the family to UNPRECEDENTED THREAT.

Which was all a big drama for everyone.

And she wasn’t the biggest fan of the cardboard box (as soon as she started feeling better, she let me know).

The good news is, she lived out her very last days as a happy chicken hanging out with her friends, but it got me thinking about having a better future setup for new, sick, injured or possibly even broody chickens.

(Aside from the chickens-fighting-with-other-chickens factor, it is good practice to quarantine new chickens from existing chickens to reduce the chances of passing on diseases to one another).

Long story short… I decided a chicken tractor would be a useful addition to my setup.

A chicken tractor isn’t an actual tractor, it’s a moveable chicken coop lacking a floor. They are called tractors because the chickens dig up the top layer of soil – and then they can be moved to another area with fresh grass and bugs to eat.

Chicken tractors are often a rectangular or A frame design, with a shelter/house section. They are are great for:

  • Quarantining sick, injured or new chickens;
  • For mumma chickens to raise their baby chicks;
  • To allow chickens to graze a particular patch of garden whilst stopping them get access to those bits they are not supposed to be grazing (like the veg patch).

They can be used as temporary or permanent accommodation for chickens, depending on how often the tractor is moved, or whether the chickens are also allowed some free-ranging time and space.

Traditionally they are made of wood and wire, I’ve also seen some made entirely out of metal – and then there’s the Omlet options, with the houses made out of plastic and the runs made out of metal mesh.

Why I opted for an Omlet Eglu chicken tractor

There are a few reasons why I prefer the Omlet option over the other options.

  • Omlet make modular products, which gives them flexibility. My chicken tractor is an Eglu Go UP, which means the house is raised off of the ground – but it can be removed from the frame for ground dwelling. This makes it suitable for chicks (who are too small to climb up stairs), and also quail… and even rabbits. Being modular, it can also be dismantled for storage.
  • You can add components or remove them according to your needs, such as extending the run, or removing the wheels, or adding handles. They also sell spare parts – something I always check for.
  • The plastic house part is insulated, which makes it more suitable for the Perth climate than a metal house, which could bake the poor chickens.
  • It also packs down reasonably easily. Whilst I wouldn’t say it flatpacks, it is easy to disassemble for storage if required as opposed to a rigid structure that’s moveable – yet also permanent.
  • You only need a hand-held screwdriver to assemble – hurrah! I have zero DIY skills to build a wooden A frame chicken tractor. (I do feel a bit of shame about this, as I’d love to be some kind of handy upcycler, but it is not me. I would have no idea how to start putting one together from scratch.)
  • Being plastic, the Omlet is super easy to clean and completely weatherproof. Wooden chicken coops get covered in poop, and wood is not easy to clean. If I’m using it to quarantine sick birds, this is not ideal. Wood also needs to be treated every year to stop it deteriorating. And wood can harbour red mite – a chicken pest.

Omlet Eglu Go UP – a review

Omlet sent me one of their Eglu Go UP chicken coops to review, and also provided me with a 10% discount code to share with you (the code is TREADING10) – which will work on their Australian, UK, Irish and USA sites.

Omlet have three different chicken coops:

  • the Eglu Go: the original Omlet chicken coop which sits on the ground and is attached to a fox resistant run. Can house between 2 and 4 chickens, depending on the size of the breed.
  • the Eglu Go UP [this is the one I chose]: the same Eglu Go house, but raised on a frame (it’s accessed by a ladder) which allow the chickens to go underneath.
  • the Eglu Cube: a bigger and squarer chicken coop, also raised on a frame – big enough for 10 small chickens, but too big for me and my needs.

I chose the Eglu Go UP because Perth is a hot climate, and the space under the raised house provides a nice shady spot to dust bath. Also, by raising the house off the ground, and allowing the chickens to roam underneath, the same roaming space has a smaller footprint, making better use of the space and takes up less garden.

What I love about the Omlet design though, is that if I changed my mind later on, I could simply take the house off of the frame, and place it on the ground. (I’d need to modify the run to make it compatible with the house – and close the gaps, but that’s not too hard.) I’ve thought about getting quail in the future, and the Omlet Eglu Go is ideal for quail when placed on the ground (they don’t do ladders) and with the perch tray removed.

Setting up the Omlet Eglu Go Coop

Predicted setup time (according to Omlet): 30 mins; actual setup time (according to me): 50 mins.

Tools required: a handheld screwdriver.

The house comes flatpacked as a series of panels, with some metal screws included to hold it all together. No polystyrene in the box, hurrah!

(The run comes in a separate box.)

The instructions were great, really detailed and easy to follow – although I did have to check everything fifteen times, which is why it took me longer to set up than expected.

The house comes as two sides, a base, a roof, a back and a front – and some green external cladding (they also have a pink option) that insulates the coop.

Screwing it together was relatively straightforward.

Once the house is screwed together (but before the outer green cladding goes on) the stand needs assembling – the frame that the house sits on.

There is also the option to add wheels to this frame, to make the coop easier to move around the garden. You hold the opposite end and maneuver the coop into the position you want. If you’re intending to keep the coop in the same place, you probably don’t need the wheels. You can also lift the coop with two people as an alternative.

Once the frame is assembled and the wheels attached, the house sits on top and is held in place by two sturdy metal holding plates. The green cladding clips in place, and the house is done.

Wondering how the chickens get into their house? With a ladder, of course!

Next, assembling the run.

Setting up the Omlet Eglu Go Coop Run

Predicted set-up time 2 hours, actual set-up time 2 hours.

No tools at all required for this bit.

The run is made up of a series of welded mesh steel panels that securely attached to the coop. There’s also a mesh ‘skirt’ that can go around the edge to help deter predators (I haven’t used the skirt as I’m fortunate enough to live in an area without foxes).

The mesh panels clip together with plastic clips. That might not sound super secure and it’s a little wobbly whilst it’s being put together, but once it’s all in place it’s pretty sturdy.

The clips can be opened and closed to allow for the run to be dismantled. Being plastic, I am sure the bending of the joint will slowly weaken over time, and also degrade in (Australian) sunlight. A follower on Instagram told me that after 4 years in the Queensland sun her Omlet coop clips have started to break. Replacement clips are available, or you could use wire, string, or something else to secure it all in place.

It’s helpful to have two people to assemble this – one to hold the pieces in place whilst the other clips them together.

The coop can be purchased by itself, or with a 2m run, and any number of 1m extensions can be added. I added a single extension to make my run 3m. The longer it is, the more awkward it would be to manuevre the coop/run around the garden, but 3m is fine.

A quick tour of the Omlet Eglu Go UP chicken coop

The door to the chicken coop can be swung open and shut with a liftable and turnable knob placed in the roof.

The side panels have vents, so closing the door does not affect air flow, but it helps keep the chickens secure – a great feature if predators such as foxes or snakes are a concern.

At the back of the chicken house there is a removable panel which can be taken off by turning the big knob at the back, and this gives access to the coop.

The internal tray is removable and slides out, and is made of two parts (the top one is grey, and the bottom on is green). On the top part there is a nesting box area, set slightly lower than the rungs, and then the rungs. (Chickens prefer to perch on flat or wide beams, so these work well.)

There are gaps between the rungs so their poop drops into the bottom tray. The two trays separate easily, and the whole thing can be hosed down to clean.

Honestly, cleaning this coop is a dream.

And of course, to test it out… I have two new chickens.

These two have come from friends who are travelling around Australia for a year. The orange feathered chicken – a solid Isa brown called Dorothy – was too busy eating to pose for pictures. The grey chicken, Betty, is the sister of Alison, my existing Araucana chicken.

Oh and fun fact – araucana chickens lay blue eggs!

Final thoughts on the Omlet Eglu Go UP

I’m really impressed with this mobile chicken coop. It’s well designed, sturdy and secure. The coop is completely weatherproof, and easy to clean. (I can’t stress enough how easy to clean it is.) And whilst I expect some colour fading in the sun, it’s robust and made to last (the house is UV stabilised, and the run is metal), and a zero maintenance option.

If you have zero or minimal DIY skills, it is a great no fuss option.

I love the fact that it’s adaptable (by placing on the ground and removing the perch tray, it becomes suitable for quail or rabbits) and modular, and that the company sells spare parts.

There’s also a thriving second-hand market for these items so if you no longer need it down the track, it’s easy to find a new owner. (That said, it’s less easy to find Omlet products second-hand, as they get snapped up quickly and are often priced similarly to new products.)

You’ll find more information about the Eglu Go UP (and all the other pet products that Omlet make) on their official websites (and don’t forget, if you choose to make a purchase you can save 10% with the code TREADING10)

Omlet Australia / Omlet Ireland / Omlet UK / Omlet USA

And of course, if you have any questions about the Omlet chicken coop – or if you wish to share your own experiences – I’d love to hear from you so please get in touch and leave a comment below!