Build a Movable Chicken Coop

Designed for super-convenient cleanup, this customizable, portable chicken coop comfortably houses up to 15 birds.

| September 15, 2011

Art Of The Chicken Coop

Coop-a-doodle-do! The first step in the increasingly popular hobby of raising chickens is to outfit your birds with a home. “Art of the Chicken Coop” provides detailed instructions for building seven cool-looking coops that range in style from rustic to Victorian and accommodate flocks from six birds to 15. Tossed in throughout the book are handy chicken facts and fun trivia, tasty egg recipes from around the world, and profiles of modern homesteaders who offer advice on living the chicken-keeping life.


The following is an excerpt from Art of the Chicken Coop by Chris Gleason (Fox Chapel Publishing, 2011). Whether you have an acre of land or an itty-bitty backyard, plenty of money to spend or hardly any, Art of the Chicken Coop will show you how to construct the perfect coop for your flock and space. This practical, playful and inspirational handbook includes hundreds of step-by-step photos to guide you in building seven beautiful coops, each of which can be adapted to the style of your choice — even made to match or complement the exterior of your home. Author Chris Gleason gives priority to building with salvaged materials, and also includes instructions for making a chicken run and a chicken tractor. This excerpt is from Chapter 10, “Coop #7: How the Chicken Crossed the Road.” 

The inspiration behind this coop was functionality — what kinds of features could be added to make the most practical, easy-to-use coop possible? I worked with a great client to brainstorm on this theme, and we came up with a couple of priorities:

  • The coop needed to be mobile
  • We wanted to streamline the cleanup process

Adding wheels to one end of the coop worked out as a way of providing mobility. One or two people can easily wheel it around, and this type of structure fits into the category of “chicken rickshaws,” which are a nifty coop subgenre I’ve heard about but never seen. Figuring out how best to install and support the wheels took some head-scratching, but I came up with a simple solution that works great.

To simplify the cleanup process, we came up with a couple of ideas. I put a large set of doors on the end walls of the coop to provide great access to the coop’s spacious interior, and this paved the way for what I think is a pretty novel concept: the poop tray. My client mentioned this to me, and it made a lot of sense. If we situated the roosts directly above a pair of removable trays, the trays would collect the majority of the chicken droppings, which could then be disposed of quite easily and with minimal fuss. We reasoned that the trays could slide in a set of tracks so they wouldn’t get moved around, and the roosts could simply be moved out for hosing off. We also hoped to prompt the birds to use the roosts by modifying the tops of the nest boxes — they’re popular places to perch most of the time, but the angled design here prevents this.

Movable Chicken Coop Materials

(Item: material, dimensions, quantity)

Long side floor framing: 2-by-4, 7 feet, 2
Short side floor framing: 2-by-4, 41 inches, 2
Side wall panels: 3/8-inch plywood, 7 feet by 2 1/2 feet, 2
End wall panels: 3/8-inch plywood, 3 1/2 feet by 4 feet, 2
Interior corner bracing: 2-by-4, 28 inches, 4
Front legs: 2-by-4, 51 inches, 2
Rear legs: 2-by-4, 45 inches, 2
Wheels: bicycle rims with wheels, 16 inches, 2
Axles: 1/2-inch bolts with lock nuts, 7 inches, 2
Window trim: scrap cedar 1-by-2, 14 inches, 8
Platform (floor): 1/2-inch plywood, 7 feet by 4 feet, 1
Rafters/roof cleats: 2-by-4, 7 feet, 3
Roof panels: 3/4-inch plywood, 35 inches by 30 inches, 6
End panel flap doors: 3/4-inch plywood, 14 inches by 20 inches, 2
Main side doors: 3/4-inch plywood, 26 inches by 22 1/2 inches, 2
Tracks for poop tray: 2-by-4, 82 inches, 2
Poop trays: 3/8-inch plywood, 40 inches by 18 inches, 2
Wheel supports: 2-by-4, 1 foot, 2
Handles: 2-by-2, 40 inches, 2
Roll roofing: 48 square feet
Felt paper: 48 square feet
Miscellaneous strips for trim: 3/4-inch pine or similar, 15 feet total
Nest box sides: 3/4-inch plywood, 15 inches by 12 inches, 5
Nest box top: 3/4-inch plywood, 52 inches by 13 inches, 1
Roosting bars: 3/4-inch pine, 78 inches by 1 inch, 2
Roost supports: 2-by-4, 16 inches, 3
End panel window covers: 3/4-inch plywood, 11 inches by 11 inches, 2
Galvanized angle brackets
Chicken wire
Brass handle

7/11/2013 4:17:58 PM

Thanks for your interest in the images and coop descriptions! We are currently in transition with our image display. If you click through the images on the first page, which is where each image link currently directs you, you will find the images being referenced by clicking through the thumbnail images beneath the larger lead image. Enjoy!

4/30/2013 12:02:41 PM

Mother's new Image function on their article pages isn't impressive either. I much preferred the old way of opening the images in another page.

I think I'm finished complaining now. Thanks!

4/30/2013 11:51:51 AM

Why do all the links in this article -- the ones to take you to different pages -- all take me back to the original page? Very frustrating.

scott spitzer
4/17/2012 5:44:37 AM

These plans make a nice looking structure with some pleasing, clever details (and come with a very useful building guide). But while the form is lovely, the function fails the test for raising healthy, productive birds. Chickens need: light to eat and to lay in the winter, minimal protection from wind/rain/cold, maximal protection from predators, and plenty of fresh air (they can't have too much, really, and too little is a complete disaster). In this coop they will spend a lot of unnecessary time in the dark or in low light conditions, the inside will be damp and stink, and the poor air quality will very likely weaken or sicken your birds. Summer heat will be magnified and stress them (maybe to death), while the dampness in the winter will increase the likelihood of frozen body parts. Predators will rip through that chicken wire in short order. The plan for the bottom frame and wheels is just fine. If you keep the roof design as-is, then the three main doors (now solid plywood) should be built using wood frames and half inch hardware cloth for maximum air flow and exposure to light. In winter, the back and side doors can be swapped out for solid doors, but the front stays open all the time (if the walls/doors are tight there won't be any wind blowing through at all, but there will be plenty of air exchange). That will give you sunlight, fresh air, and protection, while still keeping the design esthetic. If you are willing to play with the roof and create a front facing clerestory with opening windows (lets in light, lets out hot summer air), you can keep the solid wood for the back and the side, but you still need to keep the front fully open to air exchange, which allows for a dry, comfortable and very healthy coop, especially in winter.

pat sullivan
10/25/2011 2:54:02 PM

I actually made this coop with a few modifications, ventilation being uppermost for summer season. The winter I plan to use a small vent at the top of the coop. It's not for the whole chicken population, just the ones I separate from the main chicken coop. I'd show pictures, but I don't know how. Oh, and my grandkids love it right now while it is empty, it will be a different story when the chickens occupy and use it. Thanks for the design.

john sealander
10/6/2011 3:44:51 PM

Wow....a 200 pound portable chicken oven! Folks, there is a reason chickens have feathers. To keep warm and dry. Natural insulation. Left to their own devices they roost low in trees (like turkeys). They don't care much about rain and snow. That's what the oil gland in their tail is for. They do like A LITTLE shelter from strong winds. I run 300-400 chickens every season (eggs and broilers). I live in zone 6b in the mountains of Western North Carolina at 2200'. It's like eastern Pennsylvania and New Jersey in the winter and the Virginia foothills in the summer. I keep my birds in open (roofed) pens year round with plastic over the windward side from fall to early spring. Those on pasture roost and lay in goat sheds. (roof and three walls). The rain and snow isn't the's summer heat. If I kept my birds in this contraption laying would probably drop to 30% (at best) and they would all start to molt. Preventing 'drafts' is probably the worst thing you can do as the moisture builds up inside and they get frost bite on their combs in the winter and lung diseases in the warmer weather. There's an old country phrase, "the worst coops produce the best eggs". You want chickens? Get an electric netting fence and charger. It keeps out the critters. Clip their wings-it keeps them in. Give'm a sheltered place (primitive) to roost and lay. Feed, water, collect eggs daily. Move the net monthly (if you have more than 25 birds). I do like the design...but not for chickens! IF you made it a little taller it would be handly to keep the grand children in when they get on your nerves. Just throw them in and move it around the yard once or twice a month........

caitlin waddick
9/29/2011 12:56:59 PM

Hi there! I have one correction and one question and one suggestion. The correction: Stapling chicken wire over the windows will keep chickens in, but it will not keep predators out. For keeping predators out, a strong and smaller wire is needed. The question: I live in Vermont. How weatherproof is this design? What can I do to create greater insulation? My understanding is that chickens do not need an extra source of heat, rather they need insulation to trap in their own bodies' heat. The suggestion: Ventilation is important for chickens, even while keeping drafts out is also important. For ventilation, you want to put holes in the sides of the coop that are on opposite sides to create cross-ventilation. These holes need to be in a separate place from roosting and nesting spaces where chickens prefer no drafts.

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