The Europeans have taken chickens arks as they call them, to an art form. But with the US dollar weak against the Euro, who can afford to pay to ship a place to keep their chickens all the way from Europe? This European Chicken Ark can be built for significantly less money, and still maintain the look of a piece of fine cabinetry built with relatively few woodworking tools.
It’s possible that you may have already seen one of those amazing European chicken arks and thought, “I wonder how I could build a portable chicken coop that looks that nice?” Well… this guide shows you how to build a high quality chicken ark on your own.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Q:It looks like it might be hard to access the center part or the unit for collecting the eggs being that it is 8 feet long. Do you close the top part at night? Do you face it toward the south for light for laying, or since it is so open, does it matter?
A:We keep the side panels on at all times unless we are cleaning it out. The side is only off in the pictures so that passersby can see the interior. Chickens do not typically lay their eggs in the roost area in the middle. They use the two nest boxes on the end.
If you have problems with raccoons or skunks in your neighborhood, we recommend closing the top part by raising the ramp. Otherwise leave it open so the chickens can go as they please in the morning.
Depending on the season, we adjust the orientation according to the prevailing wind. During the winter, we aim the ark so that the wind hits the long side and is directed over the top. During the summer, we aim the end of the ark into the wind so that it forms a small wind tunnel to keep the chickens cool.
Q:Are two nest boxes enough?
A:All our chickens seem to want to lay in the same next box. One will be full and the other will be empty. Two nests are a gracious plenty. The industry standard for free-range egg production is one nest box for every ten birds. Chickens will seek out an enclosed, quiet, dark place to lay their eggs.
Q:How many chickens would this hold?
A:The European Chicken Ark is a comfortable 4 to 5 bird chicken coop for large breeds. It will hold 6 to 8 medium sized chickens based on the 4 sq feet per bird formula. That’s a 2’x2′ area. Measure that out with your hands and you’ll see that their space requirements are minimal. You will want to move the ark every couple of days to keep them from completely denuding the ground under the run.
Q:Hey, Your design looks very interesting. Just curious what do you suggest to use with your design as a feeder? Also what are the general overall dimensions to get an idea of the size of your design, and how many chickens can you keep in your design?
A:We use a standard 3.5 gallon hanging feeder with this unit. We hang the feeder and waterer in the run area using screw in hooks. The footprint is approx 4′ x 8′ and stands approx 42″ tall.
Q:How easy is the “upstairs” to clean?
A:Simple. Just line the roost area with a thick layer of newspaper. Make sure you remove any glossy circular inserts. When you are ready to clean it, take off the sides and roll up the newspaper. That can then go into the compost bin.
Q:Are the plans easily modified to make the European Chicken Ark larger? We plan on making the coop 2 feet longer to accommodate more chickens. Can you tell me which of the items in the materials list needs to be 2 ft longer for this change?
A:Of course, if by larger you mean longer. You can purchase any length of wood you desire with little modification. If you want it wider than 4 feet well… that will require extensive modification and the recalculation of practically every dimension. But, making it longer or adjusting other dimensions is easily done.
The Chicken Ark coop will accommodate up to 8 birds based on the 4 sq feet per bird formula. Each additional foot in length that you increase the coop will allow space for another bird. To extend another two feet, just purchase the following wood 2′ longer.
- 3x 1x3x8′ –> 1x3x10′
- 8x 1x6x8′ –> 1x6x10′
- 2x 1x6x10′ –> 1x6x12′
- 1x 1x4x8′ treated –> 1x4x10′ treated
Q:How do you keep them warm in the winter with the exposed bottom half of the coop?
A:Chickens are hardy and are wrapped in a fully adjustable down sleeping bag. However, I would not recommend this type of coop for locations with lengthy bitterly cold winters. Their waddles and combs get frostbitten. You’d want to build an completely enclosed “barnstyle” coop for those environments.
Occasional bitter cold is no problem for chickens. They are surrounded by a self adjusting, fully insulating, down sleeping bag across 90% of their body. We would use the other half of the plywood you purchased to cover the windward side of the coop’s run. Leave the leeward side open for light and ventilation.
You can also run an 80 – 100w light bulb out to the coop for extra warmth.
Q:How do you defeat predators?
A:Completely enclosing the lower run (including the floor) in a smaller mesh could do the trick. You could use a 1×2 welded/galvanized mesh on the sides. This is the same kind of wire mesh we make rabbit cages from and can be purchased by the roll.
Personally, we like 2×3 green vinyl coated garden wire. It doesn’t chew up your hands when working with it like the uncoated stuff does. Rather than choose a smaller mesh, use a dual prong approach to predator control. First put down a layer of twisted chicken wire. This is not to keep critters out, but to keep the chicken’s heads in. Over top of that, put a layer of the 2×3 wire to keep the predators out.
Q:Can you move the coop without harming the chickens… or do we wait until later when they are roosting?
A:Of course! They’ll just kind of walk along underneath the coop. Just don’t lift the ark so high up that they can run out from underneath. We’ve done that before when moving it over some rocks. When that happens, if your birds are a little on the wild side, you just have to wait for them to come back to the coop to roost that evening. Make sure you leave the door open for them.
Q:I am interested in what the approximate cost of the chicken coop after building it would be. I am researching raising chickens for their eggs and find this movable chicken coop would fit in with helping to fertilize my backyard lawn.
A:Approx materials costs, due to the fact that this is a wood structure, is between $175 – $225 depending on your locale… and your cost-conscious shoppability. We have no qualms in playing the Big Box home improvement centers against each other with their Cost + 10% Guarantees.