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So, we wanted to make an egg mobile for egg laying chickens to follow behind our dairy cows and fertilise the pasture while scratching the manure that the cows leave behind. The chickens also leave behind their own manure whilst free ranging across pasture. This technique allows the chickens to supplement their diet and produce some good eggs for us to enjoy.

So, first we started off with a 6 by 4 foot derelict old car trailer. Here is the trailer in our workshop with our current internship students learning how to do some metal recycling work to create a good solid egg mobile. This egg mobile is of minimal size to work on a small farm.


Two students, Jade and Stacey, learning some carpentry skills
to make the egg laying box.

The egg laying box is attached to the side of the egg mobile so that eggs can be harvested from outside, rather than having to go inside – providing convenient egg harvesting. These egg laying boxes are also very comfortable for the chickens so that they are happy and productive and lay plenty of eggs for us.


Dave, one of our internship students from Canada, is using carpentry tools

to make the sides of the egg laying box out of plywood.


Here we have taken the rusted floor out of the trailer and we have put a
galvanised grill floor in so that all the chicken manure will fall through onto the
pasture where ever they are parked.

We are starting to weld using our solar system – in fact we are welding with our new generation solar panels. Just four solar panels and a battery allowed us to use an arc welder! Quite an achievement, but that is another story. Soon we will give you another article on our new generation of solar panels, the copper indium selenium panels, that are the revolution in solar power. We can now run a workshop, weld and run a power saw at the same time with our new panel system.


Here we are fitting the lid onto the egg laying box that is going to hang out the
side of our egg mobile. Notice the nice slope so the rain runs off and we can
collect our eggs without disturbing the chickens too much.


Now we are setting up our frame. We are using 19mm2 tube to build a
frame for the walls and roof of our egg mobile. The students
are learning how to weld and do basic farm engineering.


A proud David Spicer delivering the completed egg mobile after he put in most

of the finishing touches. The perches are welded into position so they are sturdy.
There is a grill welded into the top so there is good ventilation, as our summer
temperatures are high. The egg mobile is attached to our four wheel drive
so we’re ready to go and deliver this to the paddock.


A closer look at the galvanised square steel tubing
on the inside of the egg mobile.


The back door with a welded grill, which works as a nice easy to grip perch for
the chickens. Once folded down, it acts as a ramp for the chickens to get into
the egg mobile at night where they are locked in at night. They will
want to get in at dusk to stay safe from foxes. At dawn, they will be
unlocked for the day to get out there and work and produce eggs for us
and to fertilise our pastures behind our moving dairy cows.


Here we have recycled some sheet metal from an old shed on the farm.
We have used roofing screws to screw it into position as the side walls and the roof.


Here we have our proud internship students examining our egg laying
box and our finished egg mobile ready for delivery to the paddock.


This is our egg mobile in position, with the draw bar facing straight
towards us with all the normal trailer attachments in place still.


Side view with the drink container hanging from the roof,

so the chickens have their own water supply.


Side view showing the egg laying box with the recycled material
on top of the lid so that it is water proof and long lasting.


The chickens are in the egg mobile looking at the yummy pasture,
ready to be released for their day’s work.


Early morning egg mobile, in position ready to be moved.


The egg mobile being moved across the pasture to a new position.
This is done every morning or every second morning so they are
continually moving behind our grazing cows.


Our chickens being released into the pasture for
a happy days work out on the field.

So this is the story of our egg mobile. We have specifically chosen to not use hybrid chickens which can lay up to 7 eggs a week each, but a true strain, the New Hampshire breed which we are hoping will lay up to 5 eggs a week. We have a roosting capacity for 27 chickens, 3 of them are roosters, so that leaves 24 egg layers with a capability of 10 dozen – or 120 eggs a week. So with our other poultry on the farm we have a constant egg supply, an improved pasture and we have very happy pancake, omelet and egg meals. Our cows provide us with lots of milk and calves for beef. Using our egg mobile, we have a better running efficiency on our farm. We are enjoying it, and our animals are enjoying it also. We have steak, eggs, milk, butter and cheese. A system that we are proud of and that we love to work with.

11 Responses to “How to Make an Egg Mobile”

  1. Scott

    What a great idea and wonderfully created! Maybe I can make a smaller one for my backyard…

    Reply
  2. JBob

    I have a very similar trailer that I’ve considered using for this sort of purpose. Two big questions:

    1. How hot are your summers? I get over 95F regularly, and heat seems to be a big impediment to egg laying. All that metal looks suspiciously like an oven to me, which is why I’ve been planning to use plywood or even OSB, with a foil radiant barrier under the roof.

    2. Is there any problem with the hens roosting in the nest boxes? Cleaning poo off eggs isn’t fun.

    Thanks!

    Reply
  3. Peter Willis

    Hi All :)

    Had a couple of comments… Geoff you mentioned your new solar array, from my experience of solar systems I would suggest the inverter and battery bank capacity will give you the ability to weld and run a power saw at the same time (unless its midday on a very sunny day). My arc welder can draw up to 2.2kW and my power saw almost 2kW. To install a 4kW solar array would be very expensive (the better part of NZD$20,000 here). Besides which a solar panel array can’t give you anything in the evening or at night, it’s all down to your batteries and inverter(s) at those times. Your solar panels might be much better at recharging than earlier technology but buying good batteries and inverters is a better investment. If you widen the system to hydro and wind the investment in batteries/inverters keeps paying. I did my course with you when you installed new batteries in 2008 but I recall you placed them in an enclosure but open to the ambient temperature getting quite cold in Winter and hot in Summer, a great way to shorten battery life, best if they hover around 18C-23C all year if you can manage it. Even a small improvement of installing insulation in the box and having a small DC temperature controlled fan on the vent will extend the battery life.

    Other suggestion is clean off the worst of the rust on the trailer base and buy a can of galvinised paint and spray it over the welds and on the rust patches, it’ll extend the life of the trailer by a large margin for very little investment on your part. Perhaps cable tying, or screwing some real estate signs to the door hatch might be nice for the chickens too so that on colder windy days they have some shelter from the wind if it shifts around in the night, with all those vents in it it will likely be drafty, good in Summer, not so nice in Winter :(

    cheers :)

    Reply
  4. Justin

    Perhaps while David is away you could use his caravan and “upscale” the design.With a couple of racing stripes down the side, the humble van could be the Hummer of chicken tractors;>)
    Looking forward to the solar story,sounds incredible.
    Justin

    Reply
  5. david hicks

    What a great use of a clapped out trailer guys & girls.
    I did feel a wee pang of sympathy for the FEET of the poor chookens :
    nothing but mesh to walk on . [ I realise you NEED the mesh to allow the poo to fall through .} I would have liked to see a coat on “non-rust’ paint B4 assembly tooo.
    Great job.

    Reply
  6. Matty

    JBob, hens naturally roost on high perches at night so they want to come inside the trailer to roost where they feel protected. In the woods they would fly up on to branches. During the day they wont be roasting inside the trailer, besides corrugated tin is pretty reflective stuff. Plenty of trees around for shade or underneath the trailer.
    They are roaming about a 100m radius. They still get fed some grain and their water trough is at the trailer so it tends to keep them closeby. Plus the nesting/laying boxes are on the side of the trailer – the hens like to use the straw to lay in, although I did find one egg out in the pasture.

    One hen accidentally fell into a cow water trough presumably trying to get a drink (chickens can’t swim!) and I was able to revive her from near death by fluffing dry her feathers in front of a camp fire for about an hour and half. It was sort of like spit roasting an animal by hand, swiveling and spinning her, but at a lower temperature. We put her inside a vented cooler with straw and a tea kettle overnight and she survived no prob. Great experiences for us interns!

    Reply
  7. Allan Laal

    I would not recommend welding the perches in, because it is a good idea to swap them out to avoid any nasties.
    I would just weld in slots on the sides to slot some wooden perces in. It also makes it easier to service the Egg Mobile for whatever reason when you can remove the perces.

    Reply

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