Our Chicken Wagon

Julie and I needed to find a way to make the chickens more portable. We were already moving toward building an eggmobile on a wagon running gear when we heard Ethan Book discuss the same idea on his podcast. We just needed to simplify moving the chickens so Julie or the kids could handle it alone. Too much of our farm depends on my back.

chicken wagon

Ours is an 8×12 box. It is 6′ tall on one side, 5′ tall on the other. The roof overhangs by 2′ in all directions (12×16). The interior is all bedding and roost bars with a little room for supplies. The nest boxes are all outside of the enclosure. I think we can tweak our design efficiency but overall it’s a pretty efficient little unit because of dad’s input. It also stayed cool in full sun on a 90 degree day with a breeze largely because we put a layer of insulation board in the roof. Plus it casts a big shadow in the pasture. Chickens are cool in and under the box in the heat of the day.

inside the coop


I plan to hang a barrel on the front to feed watering nipples that will hang down under the edges. There is a second array of nest boxes next to the first you see pictured. We had to cannibalize it from the prior chicken tractor-type layer solution. Other changes will come along but I desperately needed to just get the birds moved so here we are.

So. Thanks to dad and thanks to Ethan. We already had the idea and the momentum, Ethan just applied the spurs and dad made it happen. It turned out well. There will be more and those will be even better. If you are reading George Henderson with me you know that he used something similar…but bigger.

8 thoughts on “Our Chicken Wagon

  1. looks awesome. Great idea putting the nest boxes on the outside. I don’t think I’ve seen anyone else do it, but it’s very practical. Does that doorway have a door? I don’t think George’s were on wheels were they? I seem to remember them being on skids….

    • Henderson’s houses were on skids. It takes a bigger tractor to pull a house on skids than a house on wheels. Henderson’s houses were also quite a bit larger and held 3 weeks worth of feed! I believe he had nest boxes and a row of broody boxes above them all inside.

  2. Thanks for the ideas. I’m assuming you don’t have many predator problems so the boxes can be on the outside. I could see openings through the boxes into the coop with doors on the outside for securing at night. But that starts to complicate things and is a reason things don’t get done at my house.

    • I don’t see what predators have to do with nest boxes? You might be right…I just don’t see how. I open the door early in the morning, the birds go to work. If somebody lays an egg in the night it’s no different than if the nest boxes were closed at night…and nest boxes stay cleaner if they are closed at night.

      There are multiple layers of protection here. The wagon should be predator proof and the fence should be ground predator proof. I do have some level of concern that a raccoon would find his way into the fence and climb up on a nest box and reach through the chicken wire to get a bird….but we move the chickens frequently enough that we shouldn’t have a problem with that. Bad winter weather would dictate that the nest boxes be more sheltered but the birds will be in the greenhouse over the winter so no gain there either.

      We thought about putting the nest boxes inside and hinging a panel to access the egg boxes from outside but…meh. That seemed like an unnecessary amount of work. I guess the way to do it would be to put a header in over the whole nest box hole and a couple of latches outside.

      I have to say though, that sucker wasn’t cheap to build…even using a lot of lumber from our own sawmill. The cow panel chicken tractor we used previously was much, much cheaper…though the birds liked to roost on top and we fed the local owls in the fall.

  3. Love this idea–wish I could find just 2 nest boxes to attach for the outside. I do have mine on the outside, but have fashioned them out of milk crates and a plastic bin…bungie (not a long term answer of course) and a board overhanging with siding attached. I’d also like to have the type you can access from the outside and they can use from the inside if need be, but it IS so much extra work. Can’t seem to get that to rise to the top of the list. Anyway, this is a nice design.

  4. Ah ha – you used that double ace up your sleeve – your Dad who can do anything on the farm and … a wagon expert to boot – he (and you) did a great job! Insulation board on the roof tested on a 90F day – I never thought of that and is a good idea as tin heats up so much. I like the 2’ overhang in a shed roof design. I want to catch rain and daily condensation off the tin roof via a gutter, to a barrel and nipples. I am curious to see how much I would get, as I don’t have water in some of the areas I would take my Wagon Tractor to and would safe hauling it. Do you plan to harvest water from your rooftop too?

    I have never had chickens as alas I was born allergic to eggs, feathers and have never eaten poultry for the same reason. Coupled with my lack of marketing motivation it has never happened. At the same time my soil needs some specialized workers to focus on working the manure in the pastures, and taming the ticks and grasshoppers – moving larger distances faster vs eating and tramping grasses and weeds along their way. Layers that I can disperse the eggs to my extended family/friends so a not a huge flock, maybe 10 or more if I can find old layers ready to retire that will do the work and produce less eggs and I am pretty sure I can get those – backwards thinking I know! With allergies and preferring to fertilize the soil as I moved along vs cleaning out the mobile coop I would go with the wire floor like Zweber’s in MN used. http://zweberfarms.com/the-chicken-hotel-is-finally-done/

    I like the exterior mount of the nest boxes. I have hawks and owls so always thought boxes inside but now thinking about mounting a single row of boxes under the deck btwn the wheels, recessed a little bit – out of sight … This could be a sneeze free unit for me!

    Of course my Wagon Tractor will be a bit quirky with a bit of Prairie Schooner theme (not literally but adding some old barn board for sure) to go with the Wagon Train TV Show theme song. It’s kinda funny if you picture it as cartoon rooster Foghorn Leghorn singing the lyrics about his wagon train/tractor lol ! (hmmm you might be too young to know who I mean? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foghorn_Leghorn) Wagon’s Ho!

    • Maybe chickens aren’t for you. Could you increase habitat and nesting areas to attract additional wildlife? Wild birds can do a lot of the same work. Less focused but they gather nutrients from the surrounding area.

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