Since we first posted our early photos of our Chicken Ark on Facebook, we’ve had several questions about it. So here are a few pictures of our completed hoop house, or Chicken Ark. This mobile hen house cost slightly more than our small tractors, but offers huge advantages. First, it can house at least 20 laying hens, offering 4-6 roosts.
It is also open to the ground to allow droppings to find their way into fertilizer, and provide the opportunity for dust bathing and dirt scratching without leaving home. It also has three laying boxes that are designed to roll the egg out from under the hen, helping to keep it clean and make collection easy. The Ark can be moved without mechanical assistance, but the simple use of a hand truck makes it a breeze. It offers significant predator protection, with the exception of tunneling, and is large enough for the chickens to spend 2-3 days inside in the event of fowl weather (ha ha).
Ventilation control is huge. It can be nearly completely covered for added heat retention, or fully opened for massive amounts of refreshing spring breezes. The tarp is turned to the brown side in winter, absorbing additional radiant heat from the sun, and keeping out the wind and rain. In the summer, the silver side can be turned out to reflect the hot rays and provide shade. Easily replaced after a few seasons, it is the perfect outer skin. Add a couple hundred feet of green construction fence, hang it on supports that can be moved with ease every couple of days, and you have the perfect house for pasturing your poultry.
We’ve considered adding wheels to the back, but not sure the additional mobility is worth the extra exposure as this would lift the bottom by a couple of inches. You could add removable wheels, but again not sure that’s really any more convenient. We covered the bottom runners with split PVC pipe, so they slide very easily. So far it has been a great leap forward and we look forward to refining the project and building more Arks this year. We’d love to hear your thoughts!