The Grovestead

Farm, Family, Fun.

Building a mobile chicken coop, step-by-step

Finished chicken tracktor

Chickens do two things with stunning regularity: eat and poop. The idea of a mobile chicken coop, or “chicken tractor” as it is sometimes called, is to keep the chickens from overgrazing a single patch of yard while spreading the free fertilizer as thin as possible. This has olfactory benefits as well.

Many people with chicken tractors will rotate them into garden beds after harvesting vegetables. The chickens scratch up the soil, picking out all the unfavorable bugs and grubs and leave behind a high-nitrogen boost for next year’s planting.

Chicken tractors come in all shapes and sizes. But they all have wheels. I wanted something very simple to build, but also easy to clean. So I built mine in two parts.

On the bottom is the wheeled base, 8-feet long by 6-feet wide. It resembles a trailer without sides.

Base and wheel wells of the mobile chicken coop

On top of the base, I built an A-frame structure and covered it with plywood. This is a very easy design and went together quickly with the help of my friend and fellow chicken aficionado, Brenton.

Mobile chicken coop basic frame

Plywood sheathing on chicken tractor

A view inside the chicken tractor

After the frame was built and plywood attached, I cut out window and door flaps and installed hardware cloth inside the windows to prevent critters from getting in.

Installing hardware cloth over the window hatches on our mobile chicken coop

Nailgunning some trim onto the chicken tractor

After it was all assembled, I of course had to paint it our favorite combo of barn-red with white trim. Ivar helped me out.

Painting the mobile chicken coop

Baby chicks need very controlled temperatures the first week of life, so I hung a heat lamp inside before moving the chicks out.

Heatlamp hung inside the mobile chicken coop to keep the baby chicks warm

We kept the coop and baby chickens inside the garage for the first several days but finally, it was time to move the coop outside.

The final piece of this setup was a perimeter fence. This lets the chickens roam outside the coop but confines them to the space where I want them. It also keeps other animals, like our cats, out.

Our cats were particularly interested in the new coop

So far, it’s been a successful build. There’s plenty of space for our 30+ chicks. I have moved the fence and coop a few times and it works as it’s supposed to.

4 Comments

  1. Such patience exhibited here!
    How I wish your Papa and great grandfather Frick, the builders, could see what you’re doing!

  2. That is insanely amazing. Dumb question but how do you get them all back in there? Or don’t you now that you have the perimeter fence? Really nice structure! So cool!

    • Rory

      August 12, 2014 at 12:56 pm

      Its not a dumb question, actually its really interesting that chickens instinctively know to go inside their coop at dusk. I had a problem with this at first. The chicks needed more time to ‘imprint’ on the coop as their home. They would huddle under the ramp at dusk instead of walking up it. I had to pick them up and toss them in. But eventually they figured it out and now I just walk out after sundown and shut the door.

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