Mobile Chicken Coop

by Eleanor Kane on March 27th, 2012

We're almost done with our first chicken coop for the broilers.  They're almost four weeks old, which means that we only have a few days left to completely finish this project. We're hoping to put them outside this weekend when the weather warms up a bit and the nights are above freezing.

Why PVC instead of wood?  We took into consideration moving this at least once a day from April through October.  That's a lot of work and not every day is 70 degrees and sunny.  There are plenty of times that it will be cold, raining, snowing, sleeting, hailing, etc.  We want chores to be as easy as possible, which means building a chicken coop that is light and strong and one which won't break or wear out at an inconvenient time.  After putting this much effort into it, we need it to last for many years and PVC will stand up to the sun, wind and rain better than wood.  It's also incredibly easy to modify if we decide that we want to change it.

We based our chicken tractor off of these plans but made quite a few modifications.  
We’ll be using a bell waterer which means a full five gallon bucket will need to rest on top of the coop.  We didn’t want it to sit directly on the chicken wire since it isn’t sturdy enough to support that kind of weight.  Instead, we built this base out of plywood and a bit of extra PVC pipe.
The original plans called for a larger door which we initially built.  We found it cumbersome to open and it had a lot of flex to it.  We replaced it with this door which is half the size.  It’s positioned near the middle of the coop which will allow easy access to the whole interior.  It’s held down with a latch made up of a larger piece of pipe glued to a snap clamp.  It's easy to use and so for it works well for us.
We need to provide shade from the hot summer sun as well as shelter from the rain and wind.  Chickens can keep themselves warm by huddling together and puffing up their feathers but can get into trouble if they’re wet or there’s a strong draft.  We’re adding home wrap to half of the coop to allow them to get out of the weather.  Many farmers use aluminum paneling for this job.  We decided against this since it’s much heavier and can get really hot to the touch in the sun.  It didn’t seem to make sense to offer the chickens shade under something that absorbs so much heat.  To make sure the home wrap drains, we added a support which slopes down towards the edges of the coop.
In preparation for adding the home wrap, we made sure the chicken wire was attached to the interior of the frame and that the zip ties were neatly trimmed.  This will allow us to stretch the home wrap over the PVC without tearing it.
Of course, the hens came over to see what we were doing.  They approve of the broiler's chicken coop and spent the morning scratching up any bugs they could find near it.

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