When we first got GH&E, they spent a few nights in a dog kennel until we could build them a proper coop. We thought about designing one ourselves, but when it came to making cuts and setting angles with the miter saw, picking materials, adding wheels, we decided it was too much of a headache for a weekend project. We needed a coop and fast.
We decided to build a “chicken tractor,” which is transportable and usually has wheels. You can move it around the yard so that the chickens can fertilize all of your grass easily. We researched designs and plans and settled on one from The Garden Coop, which has two sets of simple and very nice plans, that cost $20 each. We picked the smaller of the two, The Garden Ark, which is perfect for 2 or 3 hens and a small yard. We bought all of the supplies on our own, but they do have kits with all of the hardware for about $100 for the smaller coop. If you have time to wait for the kit (it ships free), I’d recommend getting it as it took us about 2 hours to pick out all of the hardware, not including picking out the lumber and having the plywood cut. Total, we spent about $350 on all of the supplies – wood, paint, screws, roofing, hardware cloth, everything. Hardware cloth is a bit on the expensive side, but I’d definitely recommend it over regular chicken wire. It’s much harder for a predator to break into and much more durable. We picked some red and white paint and went with a traditional “barn” color scheme which turned out really cute, but you can see more versions here.
The hens have settled right in and love it. I also love the roof which hangs over the run and keeps their food dry when it rains. I can also put the food out in front of their coop, and the overhang covers it. Very handy. We decided to leave off the wheels for now, but might add them in the summer when we will need to move them around a little more.
On the whole, I’d definitely recommend this coop. It’s easy to modify (as we’ve done here), and designed very well.
- Movable as a “chicken tractor” (has an option to add wheels)
- Inexpensive plan
- Very well explained building instructions
- Fairly straightforward to build (took us about 2 weekends, and I did most of the work on my own)
- Lightweight (I can push it around the yard myself… without wheels)
- Easy to clean with the large, swinging doors
- It’s small, so perfect for small yards (also see cons)
- I’d like for it to have an external egg box, that would be really helpful… on the other hand, if it had an external egg box, adding our sliding door would not have been as strait forward.
- Some of the steps in the building plan are somewhat tedious
- It’s not cheap ($350 for supplies), but, on the other hand, it’s really a sturdy, well-built coop, and I think the chickens are very safe
- It’s small, so if you want to have more than 3-4 hens, they’d be really cramped. However, if you’re just interested in a few hens, it is the perfect size.
As you can see, my “cons” aren’t really too bad. All-in-all, I’d give this guy a 4.5/5 star rating. It’s a top-notch design.