Blog: How to Raise Backyard Chickens in a Mobile Chicken Coop


Blog: How to Raise Backyard Chickens in a Mobile Chicken Coop


More and more suburbanites decide to start raising backyard laying flocks every season and most people have little or no experience with farm animals. Last year I started my first flock after a winter of research and design on chicken housing and management systems. Although the most popular method of raising laying hens is a permanent coop and run, I strongly advise people not to raise chicken using this method. In a coop and run system chickens are in the exact same place everyday and in a short time will eat and scratch up every bit of vegetation and bugs. Additionally permanent areas smell a lot and require frequent scooping of poop. Many people think that “free range” is the best possible way to raise chickens but the truth is soils and pastures will be much more productive and healthy with a chance to rest. “Free range”  hang out in the spots with the food they like and do not let the land rest. They will also poop and lay eggs in places you would never imagine and get eaten by hawks and other wildlife without a guardian watchdog.


For suburbanites I suggest using a mobile chicken ark because they provide birds with new pasture everyday, provide protection from predators and look nice. Chicken arks are two story mobile structures with open bottoms so birds can forage in a new area everyday and roost at night. Chicken arks are practical for suburbanites because most people already have a lawn in there yard they could move the ark on.



My daily chicken chores consist of moving the ark to a new spot, refilling the water, refilling the feed and collecting eggs. When my family is busy working and at school the chickens forage in the pasture.  In the evening when everyone is home we let the girls out of the ark to fly around and  eat dessert! The girls love scratching in the worm filled compost and wood chip piles. They often chase each other around with worms in their mouths until dust when they return to their roosts and we close the door so no raccoons enter at night.


Feed and water

All kitchen scraps including meat can go to the chickens and can make up  part of their diet. Two common misconceptions about raising chickens on pasture are that supplemental grain in not necessary and that chickens are vegetarians. Even in the late spring when everything is lush the birds still need supplemental grain to be healthy. I recommend Natures Best Organic Layer Pellets which is based in Pennsylvania. Currently I am experimenting with growing plants chickens like so they get a more diverse diet and because grain prices are going up everyday.  Plants chickens love are mulberries (all berries), sunflowers, amaranth, lambs quarters, French sorrel, squash seeds, comfrey and many more.



For suburbanites I recommend getting just laying hens and no roosters because neighbors will most likely complain about the noise of roosters. Hens are not very loud if they have what they want. The breeds that I have are Speckled Sussex, Americana, Buff Brahman and Cuckoo Moran. I purchased the birds at Midsummer Farm (certified organic) in Warwick, NY where I also learned most of what I know about chickens. Mark and Barbara offer many workshops about raising chickens and farming.

an alternative to the chicken ark, free range chickens


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