Our Portable Chicken Coop

For the last seven months I have been obsessed with building the perfect chicken coop. Most of the designs I have seen had features I loved and others I could live without. From my experience at the internship, I learned I wanted an open floor, a roll-away system so the eggs stay clean, and a rain collection system.

I’ve done a lot of research during the cold winter months being stuck inside the barn. Without a doubt, the company Chicken Caravan (based in Australia) makes the most perfect chicken coop known to man. Not only does it have all the features I want, it has a fully welded metal structure with beautiful aluminum siding. However, at $10,000 it is way out of reach for us.

Inspired by the Chicken Caravan, the chicken coops we used at North Plain Farm, and other designs in the book Chicken Coops by Judy Pangman, I came up with a design that used a utility or boat trailer, 2×4 framing, and metal siding and roofing.

Through countless searching on Craigslist, I happened upon an old boat trailer that had been converted into a snowmobile carrier. The owner welded metal bars over it to create an 8′ x 12′ platform. After I saw the listing on Craigslist, I drove an hour to see the trailer, paid cash, and drove home with it that same day.

The mistakes I made building the Guinea shelter helped me along the way with constructing our chicken coop. One side is 5 feet tall, the other three are 4 feet tall. We used PVC covered 16 gauge metal wire with 1 inch holes for the floor. This seemed like a good compromise between protection from predators and allowing droppings to fall below.

For the nesting boxes, we installed a Kuhl 10-hole rear roll-out system. This allows the eggs to roll away from the chickens to ensure they stay clean. A gutter at the bottom of the roof with PVC piping directs all rainwater into a 30 gallon barrel that feeds a Kane automatic waterer.

Overall, I am thrilled with how the coop came out. Let’s hope the chickens are too!

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38 Responses to Our Portable Chicken Coop

  1. Chris Baze says:

    This is awesome! I just started research to design something very similar and was very excited to find your post. How is it working out? How many chickens are using it?

    • josh says:

      It’s working very well! We have about 80 chickens in there and they have plenty of space. They haven’t started laying eggs yet but that should be happening relatively soon.

  2. Helene Olli Sollid says:

    I am really impressed about what you are doing on this farm! Sissel & Herman are my friends and Sissel showed me your website. My husband and I bought our farm at Holsnøy near Bergen i Norway in February 2012, and we are working very hard to bring it back to former glory. We have many old houses and much to do with them as well. We have not a barn or a place to keep cattle and hay, so we are going to build a new barn/shed. For the time being we have 42 wild sheep (gamalnorsk sau/ Old Norwegian sheep) They need just a little shed outside. We are also building a chicken coop, but I wish we had seen yours before we started
    ;-), it is just fabulous!

    • josh says:

      Wow it sounds like you have quite a farm going on already! Do you have a website for your farm? Surprisingly the portable electric fencing is all we need to keep the goats in. We move them every few days so they never have much of an incentive to break out.

      • Helene Olli Sollid says:

        Hi. :-) No, we do not have a website. Not yet. But if you want to check up on us, we can be friends at Face book? I use to tell about our life at the farm there. I think I am going to by some more electric fencing tomorrow, and let the sheep get some fresh grass. For the time being, it is Nelly the pig who is using our electric fens. Otherwise she will plough up the whole farm.

        • Magda says:

          Perfect! Are you going to use the white blocks, too? I think I like them, too, for some reason — maybe the juaptxosition of the round sun and squares?

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  3. Roe Harris says:

    You must have done the same research I have done as this is the idea I wanted to do. Could you show me what the inside looks like? After all this time, is there anything you would change? I see the dimensions for wall height but not the wall length. How many hens would you say it holds comfortably? We are about to start building something similar. Thank you for showing me it can be done.

  4. Josie says:

    Pretty nice post. I just stumbled upon your weblog and wanted to
    say that I’ve really enjoyed browsing your blog posts.
    In any case I’ll be subscribing to your rss feed and I hope you write again soon!

  5. Jason Townsend says:

    Hi there:

    Awesome design. I am about to purchase a boat trailer with same ideas and was thrilled to find your post. Couple questions:

    I wonder if the chickens are warm enough in winter?
    How do you deep clean when needed?


    • josh says:

      Hi Jason,

      It certainly depends on your climate. We kept them in the coop last winter, covered up all the openings with plastic, and put square bales around the base. While no one died of hypothermia, I don’t think it was quite warm enough when the temperatures hit below 0 Fahrenheit.

      This winter we put the chickens into our hoop house and it’s MUCH warmer. Case in point: yesterday it was between -5 to -13 below 0 Fahrenheit the whole day (but sunny) and the bucket of water left out for them never froze. Kind of amazing how thick plastic and a sunny day can generate that much heat. We will deep clean the coop this winter before we move them back in this spring.


      • Jason Townsend says:

        Hey Josh:

        Good to know. Hoophouses are awesome and definitely a future investment for me. I’m planning to size a few so the chicken coop backs right in or at least the hoophouse becomes a “sunroom” for the girls. I am in Zone 5b, with some real cold snaps, so considering putting in some insulation, etc. to the coop I build. Thanks for the info! –Jason

  6. Nila says:

    Very informative post, i am regular reader of your site.

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  7. Brittany says:

    I have been looking to build a chicken tractor in order to expand my layer flock and absolutely LOVE yours! May I ask how much it ended up costing you in materials to build it?

    • josh says:

      Thank you! I think I ended up spending around $1,500 on it, although I’m not completely sure. The most important thing is to find a used trailer and get a good price on it. Good luck!

    • Charlotte says:

      So thankful for you eldon, thankful for the time I had my best friend, thankful for the moments I actually stop and breathe in betifuaul things because I never know when something beautiful might be gone. Today I breathe in beautiful time with beautiful friends. Missing you, so thankful to know you and to be with you on your journey. Love you!Jen

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  22. Anne Johnson says:

    I too love the amazing chicken caravan but when you add shipping to the US it becomes even further out of reach! I love your design and that you were willing to share so much. I too am in the frozen north and will add insulation. Love the idea of parking in a hoop house for the colder months, will add the timer for closing off the boxes to save on needing to clean them!

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