A chicken ark is a particular kind of housing for chickens that is a bit different from a regular chicken coop. In the United States, this kind of housing is often referred to as a “chicken tractor” instead, but the building is the same thing. It’s just the name that’s different. Essentially, it is a portable chicken coop without a floor. This makes some things, like cleaning, much easier, because most chicken droppings will simply fall directly to the dirt.
The most common design for a chicken ark is an “A-frame,” which is kind of the same structure as a saw-horse. For this kind of ark, you attach two end-pieces with a long horizontal beam at the top. The end-pieces consist of two beams put together with roughly a 45 degree angle (or greater). These vertical beams are then connected to each other with a cross-piece, forming roughly the same shape as a capital A, hence the name “A-frame.”
Once you have the frame constructed, you can attach walls, chicken or similar wire, and nest boxes and a roost within the frame itself. Since there is no floor, and not a whole lot of heavy wood attached to the chicken ark, this type of house for your birds is usually more easy to move around your garden.
You can attach wheels to it to make the process even easier. This type of design is not perfect, though, because the lack of floor makes it a bad choice for cold environments. If you live somewhere that gets extremely cold, you may wish to consider using a different kind of portable chicken coop instead, or your birds will get sick from the temperature.
A different design looks more like a wheel-barrow or hand-cart, with a more traditional coop on the end in place of the cart. This design is still very portable, and still has a wire walls at the bottom with no real floor on the “coop” part of the ark, but provides a little bit more protection from the heat. They are also heavier, though.
Another problem with using a chicken ark instead of a traditional coop to house your poultry is that they are not very predator-proof. Since the construction of the bottom part consists largely of wire mesh, your birds will not feel very safe if there are animals prowling about which want to eat them.
The lack of a floor means that if any predators manage to get in through that wire, your chickens will be in dire straits indeed. Make sure you don’t have large numbers—or ideally any—natural predators of chickens if you construct an ark.
However, if predators and temperature are not big problems where you live, then a chicken ark may be the ideal solution if you plan on raising chickens. They are very easy to clean, and most designs come with detachable walls to make this even easier. They can also help to let your chickens range the yard without walking completely free, which while nice is not always an option.
For instance, if you live in a suburban area but have a very large garden, this kind of housing is probably a much better bet than a larger coop and just letting your birds walk free, where they will probably get into your neighbours’ gardens as well.