One of the goals for our farming venture was to build up a small flock of laying hens to supply eggs to our shop. We currently buy eggs in and although they are of fairly good quality and free range, they come from Sydney, which is 6 hours away. Also we all know that free range according to large scale egg producers is not the same as free range according to small holders, who really just want the best possible life for their animals.
The first thing we needed was a chicken coop. After browsing online i came across a few that were exactly what we needed. Unfortunately with a space ship like design and features which included a hand crank conveyer belt egg collection system and light activated nesting box gates, the price tag being of many thousands of dollars, was well out of our reach. However taking a few basic design elements from it, i was fairly confident that i could make a low tech version out of recycled parts.
I started with an old farm trailer (which i was able to swap for the promise of a few chickens once they were ready for the plate).
After stripping it i increased the floor space of the trailer by bolting a large steel roof rack cargo carrier to the old frame.
I attached two pieces of scaffolding frame to either end then using some scrap timber and corrugated iron sheets, i finished the frame and then put a roof and one side on. I still needed a ramp and a set of nesting boxes so i hit up a few of our local tips and found an old laundry cupboard that when turned on its side was a set of five nesting boxes. We then filled the nesting boxes with easy to clean Astro turf, this is instead of constantly having to replace straw or other similar nesting material. I also found another steel roof rack cargo carrier – this one being much lighter and perfect for a ramp. I went home and mounted what i had found and then enclosed the whole thing in chicken wire. And Voila! Mobile chicken coop. Obviously there were quite a few frustrating moments when things that were not made to fit together didn’t and therefore needed some alteration but that’s half the fun of using recycled materials – it’s like a giant 3D puzzle.
Ramp and nesting boxes
Inside view of the nesting boxes and perches
Open nesting boxes
Astro turf in nesting box