Why did the chicken coop cross the road?
I’d love to hear your punchline in the comments, but first let’s address the fact that sometimes a chicken coop does indeed have to cross a road — sometimes even several roads.
Maybe you’re moving and you want to take it with you. Maybe you sold it to someone in town. Either way, it’s gotta roll. And while that’s easy with a smaller coop, if you built a walk-in coop like The Garden Coop, relocating it takes planning and effort.
In this post, I cover a few things that may help:
- Tips for building The Garden Coop so it’s easier to move later
- How to move The Garden Coop once it’s built and in place
- Alternatives to moving your chicken coop
Stay to the end for a special treat: Chevy’s Big Garden Coop Move — pictures and video of a real-life, cross-town chicken coop move. Portlandia’s got nothing on this action. And I’ve updated the post with photos from another Garden Coop move in Nevada.
Building The Garden Coop chicken coop so that it’s easier to move later
So you want to build a secure walk-in coop, but you think you might be moving within the next few years. In that case, there are some helpful things you can do differently while building The Garden Coop:
- Don’t wrap hardware cloth around any corners. Once the coop is wrapped in hardware cloth, the frame will have to be moved as one piece. Plan to build it instead so that it can be taken apart in sections. Trim and attach sections of hardware cloth to each wall of the frame separately. This will add time to your build, but it will save you effort later. You might also add a few corner braces to compensate for the added stability that the wrapped hardware cloth would otherwise lend to the frame.
- Use high-quality exterior screws wherever you’re joining any elements that will have to come apart later. That way, you won’t be dealing with rusty screws or stripped heads.
- Don’t trench down the hardware cloth. Instead, use the “no-dig” method in the plan where you create an apron of hardware cloth and stake it down around the base of the coop. This will be easier to remove later, and it’s just as effective at deterring predators.
- Create frames out of two-by-twos for the ceiling openings and attach the hardware cloth to those. This will make removing those pieces easier, should you have to.
- Keep in mind that the entire roof assembly can be removed from below, given the way the rafters are attached to the top of the frame (from below). The roof will measure about 8′ x 12′ (2440 x 3660 mm), though, and may be awkward to handle. But with some planning and some space, you can do it. Once removed, temporarily attach a couple boards at the bottom perpendicular to the rafters to keep the rafters from wobbling.
Moving The Garden Coop chicken coop intact
Okay, a big disclaimer first: Be very, very careful when moving your chicken coop. It is solely your responsibility to make sure that your move is safe and in accordance with local laws. This post is for information and entertainment purposes only. I’ve never personally moved The Garden Coop, so what I’m sharing here are thoughts and experiences I’ve gathered from consulting with others who have:
- Estimate the weight. Calculating from what I know of the weights of the individual pieces, I came up with an approximate maximum weight of 600 lbs. (270 kg). That’s a generous estimate, actually. Your coop most likely weighs less than that, but be on the safe side when figuring your volunteer headcount and what your trailer can handle.
- Lighten the load. To reduce weight (and height and width), you could remove the entire roof by taking out the screws that attach the rafters from below, though it might be easier to transport that piece attached rather than separate. You could dismantle the henhouse (floor, roosts, nest boxes, and any inner walls for sure; siding would depend). You could also remove the people door, roosts, ladder. Of course, remove the chickens as well.
- Detach the coop at the base. Assuming you wrapped the hardware cloth and trenched it, you could cut the hardware cloth off at the bottom of the frame, then when you reassemble it use the “no-dig” method in the plan where you create an apron of hardware cloth and stake it down around the base of the coop. Or attach another piece going straight down into a trench. Both ways are effective.
- Slip some two-by-fours underneath the frame and temporarily attach them so that you have something to lift by. Focus on the areas below the studs to best support the weight without stress to the frame. Add a couple more boards to the side of the frame as well at a comfortable lifting height, and secure these very well with a few long screws at each connection point.
- Use a suitable flatbed trailer that can handle the size and weight, that has working taillights, current registration, etc. Have some two-by-fours in place on the trailer to set the coop down onto (see photos below). Strap everything down really well, put caution flags on all extended parts, and obey the rules of the road.
- Plot a safe course. Map and measure out the driving route, parking spaces, and the paths in and out of both yards to make sure that all is clear for the size the coop will be when you move it — a tip I gleaned watching friends move their actual house! Don’t forget to look up as well.
- Have escorts drive in front of and behind you to report anything out of the ordinary (that is, other than that there’s a large chicken coop driving down the highway). Take roads that are lightly trafficked so you can move at a safe speed and that have ample shoulders so you can pull over if you need to.
- If you can, have the foundation prepared in the new location. It’s then just a matter of setting the coop in place when you get there. Otherwise, make sure there’s a spot in the destination yard to set the coop while you work on setting the pier blocks for the foundation.
- Make sure you have lots of strong hands on hand, plus gloves, healthy backs, patience, a first aid kit, and some celebratory beverages at the end!
Moving across town is one thing, but if you’re moving to another city or state I think you’d want to move the coop inside an enclosed vehicle. Looking at the dimensions of the 24′ and 26′ U-Haul trucks, if you built The Garden Coop to spec, I think you could remove the roof and fit it into either of these. Double check that though.
Alternatives to moving your chicken coop
Of course, you might not have to move your chicken coop at all. Here are some situations I’ve seen that might work for you:
- If you’re selling your home, consider selling your coop with it. Maybe it’s the circles I travel in, but I’ve known several people who not only left their coop in the yard when showing their home, but featured it prominently in the listing. Without fail, the chicken coop was one of the things that got buyers excited about their property. In every case I know of, the buyers and sellers are still keeping chickens.
- If your buyer (or landlord) wants it gone, offer it on Craigslist and let whoever buys it do the work of moving it. (Share this post with them!) Then you can build a new Garden Coop when you get to where you’re going — even better than before!
- If you’re simply done with keeping chickens or need a break, convert The Garden Coop to another use. Keep rabbits or another animal. Or add siding and make it into a shed to store tools or firewood. Don’t be hasty and tear it down, though! There is a market for used chicken coops. And who knows? You might want to get back into the hobby sooner than you think.
Chevy’s big Garden Coop move
Again, with the disclaimer in mind that I’m not advising you to do exactly what you read or see here, I leave you with photos and video sent in by a Garden Coop owner here in Portland who bought her coop from Kevin, the original owner/builder, and moved it across town to her yard. The remarkable images of a full-size chicken coop rolling through the streets of Portland say it all.
The Big Coop Move was a success! I clipped the hardware cloth at the ground to free it up. Then I screwed a couple of two-by-fours to the ends of the coop as handles. With some brute force we moved it. In hindsight it wasn’t that difficult.
Nate’s Garden Coop move
Nate from near Reno, Nevada, built a Garden Coop, then a year later needed to move it about 25 miles down the road. He said he searched for “shed mover” online and found a company that moves sheds and other structures. Here are the photos he shared of how that went:
Abby and John’s cross-yard chicken coop move
Abby and John built a beautiful Garden Coop in 2011, then moved it across the yard four years later. Here’s what they wrote:
We live on a steep lot and originally had the coop right outside our back door. We decided to reclaim our back patio and move the hens to the upper part of our backyard.
It took a group of strong friends and neighbors, but we added some temporary handholds and carried the coop up the steps. Magically, when it was placed on the new foundation piers everything settled into place. The doors still latched and nothing fell apart. Since 2015 the coop has been at the top of the hill, and it hasn’t failed us!
Some pictures from their move:
Don’t forget to have the mail forwarded to the new address. 🙂
So why DID the chicken coop cross the road? Take a stab at a punchline in the comments below. And if you have any (serious) tips or suggestions on how to make moving a chicken coop go more smoothly, leave those too. Finally, a special thanks to Chevy, Kevin, Nate, and Abby and John, movers of The Garden Coops featured above, for sharing their notes, pictures, and video.