The Garden Ark mobile chicken coop is designed to be an efficient, portable, all-in-one chicken tractor for housing a small flock of 3 or 4 standard-sized chickens. But what if you want to house a few more hens than that, yet still be able to move your chicken coop around your yard? Or what if you just want to give your small flock a little more space?
The Garden Ark chicken coop plans do not include instructions on how to build this design larger. But in this post I’ll offer several tips to help you think through your modifications should you decide to custom build a larger coop.
Can I house more hens in The Garden Ark mobile chicken coop, built according to the plans?
First, let’s talk about the upper range for this coop of four chickens. Based purely on the numbers, you should be able to house four hens in The Garden Ark as designed, but you have to be careful. You’re dealing with minimum numbers here, so a lot has to go well for it to work out perfectly in real life.
Some things that most certainly help:
- Select a smaller standard breed, or bantams. Choose a breed that does well with less space or one that doesn’t have pronounced dominance traits. Ask around. There are also links to a couple of breed selection tools on our Resources page.
- Make sure all four birds are well integrated. Raise them all together in the same brooder and coop, rather than introducing a new one or two into an existing group.
- Let them out every day. That way, the entire mobile ark basically works as an indoor/outdoor henhouse for them at night.
- Hang the chicken waterer and feeder, or mount a feeder to the back wall, instead of resting them on the ground. This will give them the entire ground space in the run section of the chicken coop to maneuver.
- Move the chicken tractor/coop around to fresh ground often. This keeps your hens busy when they’re in the coop, scratching at the new patch of grass or weeds. You can also toss in some scratch and/or attach a veggie feeder in the winter so they have something fun to do.
Basically, you don’t want them stressing out or getting bored. They won’t lay as well and could start pecking at each other, or worse.
How can I add functional space without building The Garden Ark chicken coop any larger?
- Add a sidecar run. The Garden Run chicken run plans make this easy (look for the illustration of a “docked” Garden Ark about a third of the way down that page). Also see Mary’s Garden Ark. She changed the doors a little to make her version work. She built this before The Garden Run plans were available and basically framed up the run similar to her coop.
- Add external nest boxes to your chicken coop. This will free up some room for more perch space in the henhouse and give you a spare box so that your hens don’t have to take turns laying.
- Provide outdoor run space next to your chicken coop. Those we know who have kept four successfully in the ark tend to also let them out frequently into a larger day run. You may be planning to do this anyway.
Can I build The Garden Ark mobile chicken coop larger?
Yes! Again, I haven’t done this myself, but I can share what others have done and try to point you in the right direction. A few general things to keep in mind:
- The roofing panels and hardware cloth come in fixed sizes. You can add 16″ (405 mm) or so in length to the chicken coop and still use the 8′ (2440 mm) corrugated panels. Longer than that and you’ll have to step up to the 12′ (3660 mm) length panels and trim them to size.
- If you add length, consider using two-by-threes instead of two-by-twos for the roof beams and buttresses and adjust the bolt lengths to accommodate.
- The next size up on hardware cloth is a 4′ (1220 mm) width. If you modify the coop frame to be an inch wider than the width of the hardware cloth, it will be easier to attach.
- If you build the chicken coop wider, you may need a third roofing panel to cover the extra width.
- You’ll need more siding and plywood (for the floor), of course.
- For the skids, you might want to use two-by-sixes instead of two-by-fours. This will allow you to use larger-radius wheels to handle the extra weight of your chicken coop.
The chicken coops shown in this post are just a few examples of what others have done to build their Garden Arks a little larger. We’re regularly adding examples of customer builds and modifications, so for even more ideas, browse all our posts tagged with “The Garden Ark.”
Questions? Ideas? Please let us know in the comments below.