Portable Chicken Houses – A Primer

If you’ve got enough land to grow your own crops and support an animal or two, chances are you can afford to raise chickens.

There’s a good reason chickens are such a staple in farm life. Everyone knows that their meat and eggs are satisfying and full of flavor – especially if you raise them yourself – but few people think about the many other benefits of owning a few chickens. They fertilize the ground, they chase down insects, and they don’t have temperament issues like some other farm animals.

Plenty of people get intimidated by the idea of raising chickens because they feel like they don’t have the technical knowledge they need.

Fact of the matter is, making a tractor (a portable chicken house) is about as easy as taking care of them in the first place. If you live on a small farm, move around a lot, or live in a city, this is a really good project with long term rewards.

building a chicken coop

Here’s the most important stuff, the things you’ve got to have before to set off to work building a world-class chicken house.

A Bottom Frame

First, you need to figure out how many chickens you’re going to house – it depends on whether you want meat, eggs, or fertilizer, and how much.

A good rule of thumb is to draw out 4 square feet of room per chicken. You’re going to want to use zip screws to tie it down with… one of the best parts of having a portable chicken coop is that you can unzip the screw and carry the frame around. That will free you up to rotate the chickens through your yard, or move them around to keep them safe from predators.

If you aren’t letting them feed on the bottom, you’re going to need to choose a floor. Sawdust, sand, wood-chips – I go in depth on your flooring options elsewhere, but you’ll need to pick carefully.

A Top Frame

You can use an A style frame or a more conventional box – it’s really up to you, just remember that your choice here impacts how air and light come into your coop.

Whether you need light to come in from the sides or overhead will impact your frame choice. Remember to get a couple of hinged doors too – you want the chickens to have somewhere to go in case of rain, and you want them to access food easily too.

The Roosts

Want eggs? You’ll need one. And the more chickens you have, the more roosts you’ll need. A typical chicken can give you 5-8 eggs per week. Make sure the roosts are a couple feet off the ground and are fastened securely. You might have better luck using screws than nails – they’re less likely to fall apart while you’re putting them together.


You’re going to need some wheels, too – hard to make a portable coop without one. You can have two or four, but the wheels you pick are going to depend a lot on your terrain. If you’re in a bumpy area, you’ll need bigger wheels, if you’re on the grass or a smooth-ish surface, you can get something with a smaller diameter for a tighter turn radius.

building a chicken coop