Make It Your Own: Cheris’s Garden Ark, Austin, Texas

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“I have never had so much fun totally ignoring my children.” So begins Cheris’s blog post about building her own chicken coop with The Garden Ark mobile chicken coop plans. Of course, once your coop is built, it’s often the kids that will enjoy it most. . .

The Garden Ark Mobile Chicken Coop Plans helped Cheris in Austin build this chicken tractor!
Cheris made some nice choices in customizing her chicken tractor. One was the bold green she used to protect and color the coop. It’s dark enough to contrast with her lawn and the foliage in her garden, and it will help the chicken coop blend well into her Austin backyard. Another was using white roofing panels for the roof. I’ll go into that in more detail.

Choosing roofing panels for your chicken coop

You have a choice of colors when buying corrugated PVC or polycarbonate roofing panels. The brand I’ve had the most experience with is Suntuf (polycarbonate panels) by Palram Industries, which comes in three shades — Clear, White Opal, and Solar Gray. Each shade performs differently with regard to light and heat transmission, and I imagine competitive products will perform similarly:

  • How much light do the roofing panels block? Unless you’re building your chicken coop in full shade, I would avoid using the Clear panels for the roof (not to be confused with the Solar Gray, which is a darker, smoky colored panel). According to the Suntuf product brochure, the Clear panels transmit 90% of light. Put another way, they block only 10% — not much. In contrast, White Opal transmits 45% of light, and what does come through is cast in a soft, white glow. Solar Gray provides the most shade of the three, transmitting only 35% of light. The gray panels appear dark in the store, but are see through in bright sun.
  • What about UV? All of the Suntuf polycarbonate roofing products block 100% of UV light.
  • What about heat? A Palram representative told me that their Solar Gray Suntuf panels will allow 7% more heat to transfer through to underside of the structure than the White Opal. So while the Solar Gray blocks more visible light, it will be marginally cooler under the White Opal, especially in intense sunlight exposure areas.

Of course, this small difference in heat transmission is more of a factor the closer one is — or in this case, your hens are — to the roof, as much of the heat will dissipate quickly with distance in a well ventilated chicken coop design. The sunshine in Austin, Texas certainly qualifies as “intense,” so in a small chicken coop like Cheris’s, the White panels should keep things a little cooler for her flock.

In my experience, both the Solar Gray and the White roofing panels provide a good amount of shade for your chicken coop in direct sun. Your choice between them may simply come down to the look you plan to achieve with your coop.

Portable Chicken Tractor Coop With Handles Added

Adding handles to The Garden Ark mobile chicken coop

We designed The Garden Ark chicken coop with wheels in the back so that you can just grab it by the front roof purlin, tilt it back, and wheel it around. How well this works depends on a few things, including your height and strength, how even your ground is, how tall the grass is, etc.

Cheris added a couple of sturdy handles to her chicken coop (attached to the front skid) so that she could just reach down, lift, and cart the chicken tractor around her bumpy yard.

So how was it building with The Garden Ark chicken coop plans?

Building with The Garden Ark chicken coop plans is a fun one-person project, and the results couldn’t be more practical — a backyard chicken coop to house a flock of laying hens for your family. Cheris followed up with us after her project to let us know how it went with the plans:

Thank you for your excellent coop design and meticulous instructions. I’ve never built anything nearly this complicated before, but I was able to follow your plan easily, even with two little kids running around. Our chicks have moved in, and we’re looking forward to eggs in a few months!

In an update she sent a while later: “Our chickens have finally started laying, and it’s just the best entertainment for the kids EVER. We’re having a blast.”

Read more about Cheris’s backyard chicken coop building project at her blog. And this update about configuring the ark to work with a daytime run. Thanks to her and her family for sharing their coop pictures and thoughts — and for helping to spread the word about our chicken coop plans!

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2 Responses to “Make It Your Own: Cheris’s Garden Ark, Austin, Texas”

  1. That’s a great idea, Cheris! And thanks for sending the picture of your chicken coop with the handles. I’ll add it into the post.

  2. Cheris Lifford says:

    We just added two handles to the front skid. It helps us lift it up high to truck around our bumpy backyard.

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