Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Thinkin' about Chickins

One of the benefits of all this snowy downtime is that I have plenty of time to think (especially since I've been keeping the TV mostly off these days).  Recently, I've been thinking about chicken coops.  I want to get a few chickens this spring, which means I'll need to prepare living quarters for the feathered egg producers.

The first decision to make is what kind of coop to make, movable tractor type, or stationary.  This engineer thinks that I can keep a movable coop in one place, but I can't move a stationary coop - the more flexible option is to build a coop that's designed to be moved.  I started by looking at a website Backyard Chickens.com/coopdesigns, at chicken tractor designs.

I liked this one, built on a garden cart base, for the ease of moving it around.

But I've seen ones like this ark-type tractor in real life and like how they look.

Garden Girl, Patti Moreno built a chicken tractor designed to fit right on top of her raised beds here.

Many of the sites I've seen talk about building chicken coops out of materials already on hand.  Something I'm contemplating.  Then last night I had an epiphany about on-hand materials.  I happen to have a dog crate (brightly decorated with a pink polyester sleeping bag) sitting on the porch doing nothing but taking up space.  Lord knows, the dogs won't get anywhere near it!  Maybe they don't like pink?  But Maggie is a girl dog!  All girls like pink!  Hee hee.  Maybe they don't like polyester?  Ah well, it doesn't matter why the dogs won't use this perfectly good, warm crate - it's still dog-free.

The dogs prefer to sleep on this wool blanket.  They like natural fibers too!  Or maybe they like feeling like people...  (yes, I'm a bad mom.  The dogs are outside now, in this 9-degree weather.  Last week I waited until the temperature rose above 10 degrees before I left them to go to work.  This week I said, "what's one little degree difference?," and headed to work. Note, they do have an enclosed, unheated porch and an army surplus wool blanket.)

After I had the epiphany about maybe using the dog crate for a chicken coop, I found one online.  This one is from Urban Agrarian.  I don't know if this would work as well for me (getting eggs would be a pain), and it just doesn't look like I imagined my coop would look.  I haven't made any decisions yet about what coop to build, but the research is quite interesting!


  1. I made a moveable coop when we first got chickens six years ago. One problem, though: I made it too heavy. On level ground, it probably would've been okay, but on the hillside (not really steep) it was much easier to move downhill than uphill. We don't have chickens now (not because of the moveable coop being too heavy, though), but when we do again, I'd like to be able to move them. I just haven't decided in what way I'll manage it.

  2. Chicken Tractors are great, I just built one this fall, my link to mine is http://rainbowriversjourney.blogspot.com/2009/12/chicken-tractors-and-garden-beds.html

    I use mine to build raised garden beds. good luck I look forward to seeing what you came up with!

  3. dp - I just found your blog through your profile. Did you post pictures of your heavy chicken tractor there? It does seem that just by putting so much wood together, it ends up heavy. Interesting blog! I love to read about other people learning as they go!

    Thanks for the link Rainbow Rivers, and nice chicken tractor! Can two people lift and move that one?

  4. Someone's Blog I was reading about the problem with the snow and their chicken tractor..wonder if I can find who it was. Can't remember, but if I find it, I'll shoot you the link.

  5. Jordan, the chicken tractor I made is very light and can be moved by one person quite easily.

    Karen Sue those who live in heavy snow areas usually move their chickens to a winter coop and out of the tractors until spring.