Whenever I think of building another chicken coop or chicken tractor, I look through Michael Roberts’ book, Making Mobile Hen Houses. I have not made any coops from this book yet, but the well thought out designs and features and the close attention to detail provide an excellent source of inspiration and ideas.
Making Mobile Hen Houses, in its brief introduction, gives practical information about perches, nest boxes, ventilation, and lighting. It describes seven different methods for attaching wheels to chicken houses or chicken tractors to make them easier to move. Each of these descriptions includes one or more black and white photographs, showing the wheels attached to a coop and line drawings with dimensions.
Making Mobile Hen Houses includes eleven poultry house designs, which are:
- broody coop – a small coop in which a mother hen can hatch and brood chicks.
- bantam fold unit – a small, portable chicken tractor with perches and built-in nest box to simplify gathering of eggs. It provides easy access to the nest box and roosting area, access to the front and top of the coop, and a pop door for closing up the chickens in the protected roosting area at night.
- large fold unit – a larger chicken tractor with integral nesting area and perches. It provides easy access to the nesting area and perches, access to a feeder area, a place for the waterer, a pop door to allow closing up the chickens in the protected perch area at night, and a pop door to allow chickens out into the yard to free range during the day. It gives suggestions for attaching wheels.
- fixed wheel fold unit – another chicken tractor design, with attached wheels, integral nesting box, and roosting area with perches. It has good access to the nests and perches, two pop doors, one to the outside, to let chickens out during the day, and one for locking up chickens in the secure perch area at night.
- duck house – a small duck house with wheels to provide protection for ducks at night. A pop door in the front lets ducks in and out and can be shut at night. The lid slides open to make cleaning easy.
- 4 foot x 3 foot hen house – a small chicken house with attached nest box, pop door to let chickens out into the yard for free ranging during the day, good ventilation, sliding top and removable roosts for easy cleaning, and a front door for additional access.
- 25 bird free range house – a larger, taller coop on skids with attached nest boxes, a slide-out dropping board beneath the roosts so that the large amount of droppings produced by the roosting chickens can be cleaned easily and frequently, a pop door to the outside to let chickens free range in the yard, and a front door for access. This coop is intended to be moved with a tractor and would work well inside electric poultry netting.
- 50 bird free range house – a larger chicken coop, with similar features to the 25 bird free range house.
- sound moderated house – a chicken house designed for city dwellers. It includes insulation and an ingenious ventilation system designed to reduce the amount of rooster crowing that can be heard by nearby neighbors.
- urban poultry house – a chicken hutch designed for four to six hens. It includes perches for roosting and a nesting area. The dual purpose chicken door also functions as a ramp.
- wheelchair user’s poultry house – a chicken coop that Michael specially designed for a friend of his who is confined to a wheelchair. This coop provides easy access at the right height so that it can be cleaned from a wheelchair. It has an integral nest box and perch. A pop door with an attached ramp is used to let chickens out into the yard during the day. The pop door is opened and closed using a cord that is wheelchair accessible. Chickens are also allowed into the space under the coop, so that no space is wasted.
Making Mobile Hen Houses also includes designs for:
- a small feed shelter
- a large feed shelter
- roll away nest boxes
- a 6 foot run that can be attached to a chicken house
- chicken pen fence sections in 6 foot and 10 foot lengths
Each design include a description, black and white photographs, and detailed line drawings. The book does not include lists of materials or step-by-step instructions. Most of the designs require an intermediate skill level. The coops are designed to be fox proof. In areas where raccoons are a problem, some changes to latching mechanisms may be needed because of the raccoons’ greater manual dexterity.