First of all, this is actually the Boughton Chicken Ark & Run by Foresham Cottage Arks. They’ve been around since the late 1970’s and everyone just seems to call them the Foresham Chicken Ark or just the Foresham.
Quality of the Chicken Ark
The name itself equals quality in the mind of back garden chicken keepers and with good reason. I’ve met people who say ‘My Foresham’ in exactly the same tone as some people say ‘My Rolls’ meaning their Rolls Royce car.
From day one they were built with quality materials like pressure treated Canadian Spruce to a high standard. I know of some that are still going strong after 15 years of use and I wouldn’t be surprised to find some of the original Foresham arks from 35 years ago still in use.
Capacity of the Foresham
The Boughton Chicken Coop will take up to 6 medium hens or bantams. I’d feel more comfortable with 4 birds though if they weren’t able to free range most of the day.
Design & Security
Apart from the construction and material quality, the design makes it a very popular choice for back garden chicken keepers. The small footprint makes great use of space and the pull-up ladder gives total security to the birds at night if Mr Fox comes to call.
In some areas the fox problem is such that you dare not let your hens roam the garden unsupervised which is where the integral sheltered run comes into it’s own. Of course the 2.5 M2 run isn’t a great deal of space of 4 or 6 hens but quite acceptable if they get plenty of free-range roaming time.
4 hens in that space will damage a lawn quite badly after a few days but the handles fixed to the ends make moving the ark an easy task for two people. Rotating it around the lawn will actually scarify and fertilise it so as long as they’re kept moving, you’ll have a great lawn.
The shelter provided by the ark over the run provides a good place to feed without the feed getting soaked in bad weather.
Because it arrives untreated, you’ll need to allow a few days from arrival before bringing it into use. On the positive side, you can either use a natural stain or a colour stain to achieve the look you want. Use a quality product like Cuprinol or Ronseal that is pet safe.
Thereafter, treat the coop annually in the autumn and it will greatly increase the lifespan.
One thing that can be a problem is the nest box at the end of the coop is on the same level as the roosting bar. This means the birds have a tendency to spend the night in the nest box. Hens produce much of their droppings at night as they digest their food so the nest box can get filthy, which dirties the eggs.
You can close off the nest box at night but then you need to remember to open it again in the morning. Still, after a couple of weeks they’re usually trained to the perch and don’t bother sleeping in the nest box even if it’s left open.
I’m not sure that the design provides enough ventilation, especially if the birds were left locked in for a hot day for some reason. Having said that, we didn’t have a problem with over-heating even in high summer and it is a well tested design so probably I’m being too critical.
There’s great access to the interior with the removable sides and ends which makes cleaning a lot easier than many if not most other coops. Generally owners put newspaper and shavings on the floor under the roost but the position of the entrance ladder in the floor means this section is harder to keep clean.
Having said that, it’s a trade off between the benefit of the ark’s ladder and hens’ night time habits.
The roosting bar is removable which makes thorough cleaning easier and coping with a red mite infestation if it happens.
Review Conclusion – Boughton Chicken Ark
The quality is first class and, properly cared for, this will last many years. Some minor gripes about the nest box and cleaning aside, an ideal coop for urban or cottage gardens.
It isn’t a cheap coop, running around £300 at time of writing, but it is very good value for money. More information, video etc. can be found on their web page.
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