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The Chickmobile

We had a bit of interest in the design and build of our chicken coop so here's a quick tour.

We had a fairly exacting design brief:

  • First off, it needed it to fit in our trailer so we can take it with us when we move house.

  • Second, we wanted something we could move around so we can put the girls on fresh grass (once chicken lockdown is over).

  • It had to be off the ground to protect against damp and vermin.

  • It needed to be secure.

  • We couldn't decide between a mesh floor as featured in the Goodlife Permaculture Self cleaning chook house, and a solid floor - so we thought we'd have both.

We toyed with the idea of using a car trailer frame as a base - but then saw a pair of trailer hubs and wheels on eBay for £35. After some quick sketches, the project began...

The wheels are mounted on a simple frame that is then skinned with 9mm plywood. The wheels are detachable for when we need to squeeze it into our trailer.

It has a pitched roof ('cos it's fun building them). The nest box is accessible from the outside for easy egg collection. It's also detachable for when we move house.

There are two floor options – a mesh floor for summer use and a removable wooden floor to keep things snug in the winter months.

The front door opens up wide for easy access. The clips that hold it shut are called 'Antiluce fasteners' - often used on trailers. They're perfect as they're both quick and secure.

We suspended a couple of branches for roosts inside.

Ventilation is built in to the gable ends. We couldn't decide whether to cut and fit some windows so left it without. In hindsight this was the right decision as it helps avoid early morning crowing by keeping things dark until the door opens. If we didn't have neighbours so close, windows would be good - and the increased daylight would help boost egg production.

The legs slide so we can retract them when we need to wheel it around.

The door is an automatic self-locking door from ChickenGuard. This is a game-changer! We set it to close automatically in the evening (using the built-in light sensor), but it opens at a specific time in the morning in to prevent early morning crowing. We’re really happy with the way this works.

Two years on...

After two years of use, it's held up very well and is still in as-new condition. The Defra-imposed chicken lockdowns have meant we haven't moved it about as much as we expected.

The solid floor is used most of the time. We cover it with a layer of plastic damp proof sheeting. Then, when cleaning it out, we just pull everything out in one go and dump it in a wheelbarrow. This is actually easier than dropping the poo through the mesh into a container.

Changes we'd make if we were to build a V2:

  • Make it a bit higher off the ground so the chickens can run about underneath without stooping!

  • Make a bigger one. This size is good for around a dozen birds. But obviously we need more... We were constrained for this one by the need to fit the thing into our trailer. Obviously this can be resolved by getting a bigger trailer!

  • The ChickenGuard locking door opener is fab. We've since bought another one to be used as a pop-hole from the enclosure to the chicken run. It means we can automatically secure the enclosure in the evening if to protect against a predator inadvertently breaching the electric poultry netting.

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