If you’re reading this article, then it likely means that you are considering or have already decided on becoming what is colloquially known as an ‘urban farmer’ and raise your own backyard chickens. Most likely you started with your own herb and vegetable garden and decided to up your game from there. Or maybe you were simply swayed by those undercover videos of the horrific conditions that livestock endure in factory farms. Or maybe you’re doing this simply for health reasons and you would rather have most of your food be completely organic as well as antibiotic and growth hormone free.
Whatever your reason for deciding to raise backyard chickens, you’re going to need to build or buy a chicken coop to house said chickens. Before jumping at the first chicken coop you see, you will need to understand that not all chicken coops are created equal and that there are in fact several types of chicken coops, each with their own particular advantages and disadvantages. In today’s article, we will be looking at the advantages and disadvantages of the 4 main types of chicken coops.
A chicken tractor has nothing to do with an actual tractor at all; it is in fact a small, portable, and bottomless chicken coop. It’s called a tractor because it can be used to put the chickens to work, work meaning fertilizing your yard or garden.
Advantages: A chicken tractor is very easy to use, build, and acquire. Due to its small size and lightweight nature, it is also a very convenient option. You can move it around your yard easily to fertilize different parts or for different foraging options for your chickens. You can use it as permanent housing or as temporary shelter for day jobs.
Disadvantages: Due to its small size it can only house a small amount of chickens, especially if it’s being used as their permanent housing. If you only use it on a temporary basis however, then you can fit more chickens in there.
Pastured Poultry Pen
This is simply a larger chicken tractor, usually measuring about 10 x 10 x 2 feet. These pens are designed to be moved about once per day to provide the chickens with fresh grass.
Advantages: This is an easy and budget-friendly way to start a larger flock. It is also heavier and large enough to withstand wind and provide protection from predators. While difficult, it can be moved by one person and can easily be scaled by simply building more. Its uses are also versatile; you can use it as permanent housing for a small flock, raising meat chickens, young laying chickens, or mother hens with chicks.
Disadvantages: If you have a larger number of chickens, they can easily decimate the ground within a single day. Also, even though it can be moved by one person, that person will have to be pretty strong so know your own physical limitations.
Mobile Chicken Coops
While the above two types or coops are also mobile, this chicken coop is not bottomless and usually comes with tires attached at the bottom to allow easy moving. Mobile chicken coops can vary greatly in size meaning that while the smaller ones can be moved by hand, the larger ones will probably be have to be hooked up to a vehicle of some sort. Check out these portable chicken coop plans if you are planning to build a mobile coop.
Advantages: Like most mobile coops, chickens get access to fresh food every time it is moved. And depending on your climate you can keep moving the coop so it’s not too windy, for better sunlight exposure or for more shade.
Disadvantages: As mentioned, larger mobile coops cannot be moved by hand so it can be inconvenient.
Traditional Chicken Coop
This is the traditional chicken coop with an attached run that many people have and what usually comes to mind when people think of chicken coops.
Advantages: If you do not have a particularly large backyard, there is no point in having a mobile chicken coop. The static coop also has the potential for the most accessories such as roosting perches, hanging feeders, automatic water dispensers, etc. for maximum comfort for the chickens and more convenience for you. This design is also the best for protection against predators.
Disadvantages: While accessories can make things more convenient, the static coop means the owner will have to clean it regularly as the manure will not naturally fall on the grass and fertilize it. Further, if you leave your chicken run bare, which is most often the case, it is only a matter of time before the vegetation is gone and the soil is contaminated from excess manure.