Avian Aqua Miser: Automatic, poop-free chicken waterers

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Nomadic chicken coop design

Wild coopWhile we're pondering new chicken coops, I thought I'd bring back to the table the idea of having a moving auxiliary coop.  Although our chicks did a pretty good job rustling up insects under the fruit trees last spring, it's hard to get them hatched and feathered enough to be outside before the Oriental fruit moths begin to fly.  Which led me to wish I had a coop I could toss our layers inside so they could visit temporary pastures around the fruit trees in February and early March and do the job even better.  This year, especially, such a coop would be awfully handy since we'll need to tear down the existing main coop if we're going to build a new one, and our layers will need a temporary home during the construction period.

I got bogged down, though, in trying to design a coop that's very easy to move once a week or so, is pretty enough to suit Mark, and won't make manure management into a nightmare.  The structure won't need to be very big since the chickens will have a temporary pasture at each stop with plenty of room, and I won't be expecting anyone to live in the nomadic coop during very cold weather.  Really, all it needs is a door that can close, perches for a dozen birds, a couple of nest boxes, and perhaps the ability to section off a smaller area so it can also be used for chicks.

Round coopAesthetically, the coop pictured at the top of this post wins my favor, but I know it wouldn't be very ergonomic to work with, and would be way too heavy to move.  The one on the left is relatively simple, and yet quite attractive, perhaps because of the paint and round design.  (By the way, click on any image in this post to be taken back to the source.)

Coop wheel
I'm also drawn to the idea of big wagon- or bicycle-type wheels like the ones above, perhaps because I recall how tough it was to scoot tractors across rough terrain with small wheels or none.  On the other hand, I also remember how annoying it was to have chickens sneaking out underneath when the walls don't precisely hit the ground, and I don't think I want to clean a coop with a floor.  So I'm a bit stumped on movement, unless perhaps the wheels fold down and a floor gets inserted for the move period.

Have you seen any coop/tractor hybrids that you think would fit the bill?  Any other factors we should be considering (other than whether our wiley layers will fly over our temporary fences --- we'll just have to figure that out when we come to it)?

Our automatic chicken waterer will keep chicken care easy even in a portable coop.

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That round mobile coop looks awesome, but I believe the roof structure is made from round bale cages... talk about expensive!
Comment by Phil Tuesday evening, February 5th, 2013
Phil --- I had a feeling that one was ultra-expensive.... :-) I was assuming they just used metal pipes and added the fanciful supports between hoops. But perhaps you could make something similar but cheaper and lighter with PVC pipes?
Comment by anna late Monday morning, February 11th, 2013
Could you have a floor and use deep bedding or would that be too heavy?
Comment by Emily at lunch time on Friday, March 1st, 2013
Emily --- The biggest problem with a floor with deep bedding is rot -- you need to keep the bedding damp. Plus, you want the soil microorganisms to come up and start decomposing. So even though it's possible to do deep bedding on a floor, it's not the best idea.
Comment by anna Friday afternoon, March 1st, 2013

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