Human-Powered Henhouse Keeps Chickens On The Job

While it’s not exactly in the same vein as other projects around here, like restoring vintage video game systems or tricking an ESP32 to output VGA, keeping chickens can also be a rewarding hobby. They make decent pets and can also provide you with eggs. You can also keep them on a surprisingly small amount of land, but if you have a larger farm you can use them to help condition the soil all over your property. For that you’ll need a mobile henhouse, and as [AtomicZombie] shows, they don’t all have to be towed by a tractor.

This henhouse is human-powered, meaning any regular human can lift it up and scoot it around to different areas without help from heavy equipment. It uses a set of bicycle wheels which rotate around to lift up the frame of the house. A steering wheel in the back allows it to be guided anywhere and then set down. It also has anti-digging protection, which is a must-have for any henhouse to keep the foxes out.

We like this one for its simplicity and ease-of-use. Not needing a tractor on a small farm can be a major cost savings, but if you really need one, [AtomicZombie] also designed a robust all-electric tractor-like device that we featured a little while back.

33 thoughts on “Human-Powered Henhouse Keeps Chickens On The Job

    1. Thanks for sharing. I am 66 and a widow. I got 2 baby chicks and took care of them in my tub. I then bought a chicken coop at Tractor Supply and a few weeks ago they each started laying 1 egg a day, every day. I really would like a bigger area for them. Your coop with wheels is a wonderful idea. Thanks again! Marilyn Easterly of Liberty, Mississippi

        1. Thanks for the link, I checked them out. Seems, those units are only perhaps 20 square feet or so inside. Do you have a link for one that is in the range of 200 square feet and not requiring a vehicle to pull it? I am interested because I would like to see how others solved the weight issue. Always looking to evolve my designs!

          Thanks,
          Brad

      1. Thanks! We are getting about the same… a dozen eggs per day from a dozen birds. They are happy when they get to move around and when they have a lot of space. For just a few birds, there are many inexpensive portable coops available. I have seen them up to 30 square feet. It’s when you get 20+ birds that portable becomes an issue. I don’t allow gas vehicles on my land, so this design was required.
        Brad

    1. Clearance during mobile mode is about 4 inches. This was fine for chickens, which are a few months old when they move in. The round tubes are also very safe for them during a move. The coop area can also be adapted for a screen floor, in case chicks ever need to move.

      The lift is also adjustable.

      Currently, we are using the Pen as a shade house, covered with a UV resistant tarp. It has worked very well for starting tomatoes and many other plants.

      https://www.atomiczombie.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/PortaPen8a.jpg

      Brad

    1. Yes, the idea is that they have fresh pasture every day, and are completely safe from all predators. The side flaps prevent digging underneath the structure. The poultry just walks along as the unit moves, always looking forward to fresh grass.

      Brad

      1. It looks like racoons, weasels, possums and maybe even birds of prey could get inside and even if they can’t they could reach in and kill a chicken. You’ll need something smaller than 1/2 inch and metal to keep the chickens safe in my opinion.

        1. We have a chicken wire cover that is used when they are young. For those initial months, there is no gap larger than a thumb diameter. 4 years now, and not one loss from predators.
          Brad

          1. Thanks, we use that rule here as well. Even our permanent run has 1/4″ wire buried under the ground. In the photo, you can just barely make out the 1/4″ wire on the portable coop.
            Brad

    1. Our terrain is somewhat hilly, although I shot the video in the best (and only) level spot. With the 4 to 6 inch lift, you can basically move it anyplace a car would go safely.

      If you are really out in the “back woods”, then yes, this design will require mods.
      But then again, that’s what DIY is all about… making it work for your needs!

      Brad

  1. I’m glad anti dig flaps were mentioned. Chickens are highly intelligent and darn sneaky. They’ll run in the house and steal the dog food if your back is turned for even a second.
    The only thing I’d suggest is an extra door on the entrance as an air lock and perhaps some brush strips so you can wheel it around when it still contains chickens. The second you lift it up an inch they’ll duck under it and you’ll have the fun of trying to persuade them back in. Unless they like it, nothing short of a six foot electric fence to keep the wood be little dinosaurs confined. Life finds a way. This seems like a favourable environment.

    1. Yes the are indeed! Our flock lives in an insulated coop now, but it wouldn’t surprise me at all if they found a way to rig up a crude computer and get on Hackaday to learn how to take over the farm!

    1. I agree, and if you have a play list to share, I would certainly want to post these to my site, which is all about promoting DIY. When I designed this unit, it was all about moving 200 square feet of secure poultry space without needing two people or a gas powered vehicle.

      If there is already a similar sized single person movable unit out there, I would like to see it, as I also take my inspiration from the DIY community, and this site. So your “old news” would then be “new news” to myself and my forum members.

    1. Thanks!
      I prefer to give the flock a lot of room, so 10 turkeys, or 15 chickens. Some say a lot more can be housed in 200 square feet, but we treat our flock like royalty. The coop is now a portable greenhouse and shadehouse, and the chickens have their own insulated coop and massive run.

  2. I only have 25ft x 20ft of grass. What would be the smallest number of chickens and structure for a space like that? I have seen these but never thought of how that would allow me to move them around my small space.

    Would three chickens in say a 5 x 8 structure

    1. We have had chickens for 5 years now, so still “noobs”, I guess. I found this book to be very helpful, and it this section discusses space requirements for flocks, indoors and out…

      https://www.dummies.com/home-garden/hobby-farming/raising-chickens/how-to-determine-your-flock-size-and-space-requirements/

      We double what is recommended actually. The choice to raise poultry for us also includes giving them the best life possible, and knowing where all of our food comes from and how it was raised.

      500 Sq/Ft of grass is a decent amount, and if you rotate often, it could actually grow back by the time you make a full circle. If you are just getting into poultry, I do recommend that book… it has a lot of good info.

      Brad

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