The Hen Party On A Roll
By Nikki Alvin-Smith
Keeping chickens is a rewarding task that many families embrace. The abundance of fresh eggs, the amusing antics of the hen party and the optional feast of a roast chicken around the holidays are all good reasons to set up a backyard poultry operation.
Hen houses run the gamut from small home-built creations to commercially developed coops that offer quick egg collection and easy clean floors. The use of wood in building these cute structures with their tiny windows and mini step ladders is an age-old tradition. Wood is readily available and easy to work with and has good insulating properties to help defray heat in summer and cold in winter.
The addition of a safe secure outside pen where the chickens can hunt and peck freely without worry of predation offers a good option for their care, especially when allowing the flock free to roam the garden or backyard is not practical due to possible interference from family pets or predation by birds of prey.
Have Chickens Will Travel
Mobile coops offer significant advantages over permanent structures. Once the ground is grazed down in one place a new patch is readily available next door. When pecking and digging in the pen causes divots and holes to occur the coop can be moved to another space where the residents are invited to start over their creative and health-conscious activities.
Wherever the coop is rolled the area left behind will be handily fertilized by the flock without any effort or additional expense for such needs or the labor involved in cleaning up the buildup of manure that will occur in coops that are stationery. Mess without the stress!
If a particular area seems especially prone to issues such as flooding or interrogation by predators on a seasonal basis, a mobile unit can be moved to a more secure or dry location.
During times of high temperatures where the smell of the coop can become more potent, the coop can be moved further way from spaces of outdoor living enjoyment such as pools, patios, and pavilions. It can also be placed under tree cover for additional shade.
But moving a coop around can be difficult to do manually. Some type of motorized equipment is generally advocated such as an ATV, UTV or tractor. The downside of using equipment to pull the coop around is that it can be hard to navigate the coop into tight spaces.
The New Kid On The Block
While wooden coops continue to be popular, their maintenance and lack of maneuverability made room in the marketplace for the aluminum coop to rise in popularity. It’s not just their light weight and thus high mobility that make them increasingly popular, it is their almost maintenance free design.
Horizon Structures LLC, based in Atglen, PA, is a company with a nationwide footprint and has been producing, marketing, and delivering coops around the country for over a decade. The company’s founder, Dave Zook, actually co-authored a book on chicken coop building. While Horizon Structures is renowned as the leading U.S.A. producer of modular horse barns, the company offers all sorts of structures including residential and commercial grade kennels, outdoor living structures plus an impressive product line-up in their coop range.
Their offerings includes some of the prettiest coops I’ve ever seen, such as the Tilly’s Nest and TV personality from Fresh Eggs Daily Show, Lisa Steele Coop and some very traditional Amish style offerings such as Dutch Style and Quaker coops. Whether you have a handful of chickens or a huge flock, the company has something to suit your needs.
Beginning January 1st, 2023, new to the Horizon Structures lineup will be Egg Roll aluminum mobile coops. There are lots of features these aluminum coops offer that will impress the chicken keeper, not least the benefits of the simple pulley system that allows the large wheels to be retracted and then released for use when needed.
The large wheel size makes moving the coop over rough ground easier than working with a small wheel set up, and the wheel height is readily adjustable which makes navigating different topography smoother.
The lightweight of the aluminum coop allows the chicken keeper seeking a mobile coop option to select a larger coop than they otherwise might with a wooden coop, as going bigger to provide less overcrowding for the flock and more birds for laying can be accomplished without the worry about the weight of the coop being too cumbersome.
If you are not fond of repainting, restaining and ‘fixing up’ tasks, then the aluminum coop is for you. While the initial investment may be higher than a wooden model the durability over time and consistent aesthetic will appeal while the sturdiness of the aluminum design keeps worries of damage from predators at bay.
Talking Of Predators
An ongoing concern for all chicken keepers is the risk of losing members of the flock to predators. During cold winter months when animals such as coyote are at their most hungry, moving the coop closer to home is a great option. And let’s face it, who wants to trudge out across long distances in the snow to feed and check on the flock.
Wherever the coop is sited it is essential that the structure is well-designed to mitigate any risk of attack by predators both on the ground and from the sky.
The Egg Roll aluminum coop offers 1” x 1” galvanized wire mesh that is welded together at the seams to provide an efficient barrier to the unwanted advances of fishers, foxes and their like. The coops’ anchoring system utilizes a low-tech system of a cinder block at each front corner minimize the likelihood of the residents escaping their confines and the blocks also help anchor the coop in case of adverse wind conditions (these coops are rated to withstand winds of up to 75 mph).
Features such as the heavy-duty vinyl tent-like canopy offer protection against inclement or hot weather and keep birds out of the view of aerial predators. The canopy can be quickly rolled up and down to provide protection from wind, rain, sun, or snow.
The Egg Roll coop brings a bevy of clever design features for chores such as feeding/watering, cleaning, and egg collection: an easy to access and clean exterior feeder and waterer; egg collection from the exterior of the coop; and a human size door with an inside lever as well as an outside latch makes popping in and out of the coop a breeze.
Horizon Structures Egg Roll coops will be offered in sizes 5’ x 6’ and 6’ x 10’.
Rural Lifestyle At Its Finest
In recent years many folks have taken up the enjoyable hobby of chicken keeping. There is much to learn about nurturing chicken and other livestock, but there are also many other rural lifestyle pursuits to be enjoyed.
Horizon Structures has recently joined up with 5th generation chicken keeper and New England’s popular TV personality Lisa Steele as a sponsor of her latest TV series, “Welcome to My Farm,” to help bring more fun and education to countryside loving audiences.
“We are thrilled to work again with Lisa. She has such a wealth of knowledge to share and with her engaging and open personality and brings so much real-world advice on everything from chickens, DIY, gardening and all things country lifestyle that everyone so enjoys,” says an enthusiastic Jill Siragusa, Chief Marketing Officer at Horizon Structures.
Steele is currently working on the second series. Plans are in the works to visit an alpaca farm, botanical gardens, a donkey rescue, and explore the world of gamekeeping, beekeeping and ice fishing among many other adventures to be shared. The new series promises to be a bumper crop of information and delightful experiences.
“And of course each episode will have delicious recipes plus a segment with the chickens, ducks and geese and as many animals as I can pet and feed treats to wherever I go!” explains Lisa.
You can find out more at Lisa’s blog