Moving the Mobile Coops for Pastured Chickens with Andy at Earthaven Ecovillage
Courtney Brooke: Hey Andy!
Courtney Brooke: What are you doing?
Andy: Well I’m moving the chickens to a fresh spot.
Courtney Brooke: Oh; good morning chickens! Well, that’s quite a lot of chickens. How many chickens is that?
Andy: Well, we started with a little over a hundred we’ve lost a handful of them so we’re probably around 96.
Courtney Brooke: Wow; fancy chicken house!
Andy: Yeah, this came from a design from Rrobert Plummenden. He’s got a book on chicken shelters and raising pastured poultry.
I did some modifications to it, but the frame is a pretty basic wooden box. It’s a 8×8 wooden square with two cattle panels that you can get from tractor supply -or somewhere like that; bent over a hoop. This one’s maybe a little easier to see…bent over in a hoop and stapled to the side. Then we also took another cattle panel and cut it in half. So, three cattle panels makes this whole chicken shelter closable.
Then four or five 2 x4’s to make the frame. Next, you round the angle braces and all that. Then, the moving part of it, and this is a recent modification, we’ve got some wheels on the end of some metal pieces that then hook on. So it picks it up off the ground now. Leverages it so that then you’re able to lower it once you get it into place. The chickens, theoretically, can’t get out. This was in an uneven spot.
Moving the Coops
Courtney Brooke: So, then one person can move this ?
Andy: Yes, one person mostly can move it. If you have to go uphill (we usually like to start them like that) get everybody on board to move them uphill. Then, pull them down. But mostly one person can do it.
Courtney Brooke: Wow…
Andy: First, we got to get the feeders and the water. It’s a little bit different than the Joel Salatin style pens. The main thing that I like better about it is that his pens are like ….they stop here.
Courtney Brooke: Right.
Andy: They’re low pens and this one I can get in and out, especially when the chickens get bigger. We actually won’t close it up at night once they get bigger. When they get bigger and we pen them in there before slaughter it’s it just feels better than having them all penned into a low shelter. They got more space in there.
Courtney Brooke: Good morning chickens
Andy: Slowly pull it because there’s always one or two that like to peck at the wheel and see what’s going on. Not quite yet with the program. I haven’t electrified the netting yet either so they’re all getting out.
Courtney Brooke: So how often do you move it?
Andy: When they’re this small ideally we move it once a day. Once a day or else you get manure build up in one area. We’re trying to spread the manure across the entire field.
Courtney Brooke: That’s how you protect the chickens…with the dog.
Andy: All right so then we lower it and the wheels. Old lawn mower wheels really work the best and then you got to be a little crafty to figure out some piece of metal..something that’s laying around the farm. This one I call the ultra light… it’s not necessarily designed to keep them in. It’s more designed for shade and keeping feed dry. So that one is really easy to move.
Raising Broiler Chickens since 2006
Courtney Brooke: How long have you been farming chickens?
Andy: I’ve been farming chickens…hmm…I actually did our first batch in this field in one of these shelters 15 years ag. I’ve been raising broiler chickens as few as 50 a year, as many as 150 a year, since 2006. I went to a workshop down the road on raising pastured poultry. I picked up this book that had a design in it. Then, I ran with it ….
Courtney Brooke: All right, thanks for showing it to us!