Hi all, we are planning for our first gaggle of girls- three of them, and they will be arriving in late march. My husband only agreed to chickens if we got a tractor, so he didn't get stuck cleaning the run and so we could move them throughout the yard.We got the tractor, and now I have some questions.
The tractor doesn't have a floor, but I am concerned that something will burrow under the run. We live in AZ, and have the occasional roof rat because of the citrus in my neighborhood. I was thinking putting some wire on the bottom, but I have read mixed opinions on that- wire can hurt their feet, they will want to scratch, etc.
The coop and run seems small to me. We are only planning to start small, but won't they feel 'cooped up' in something so small?Should I build a larger pvc run to let them roam a bit during the day?I work from home, so I can let them out of the tractor's run into something bigger.
Do you lock them in the coop at night- ie shut the door, or do they want to go out in the run area? I am also concerned a coyote will jump the fence and get them, so I don't want them out, but what about in summer, won't it be too hot in such a small confined space? Do they get antsy to get out in the morning? Do you lock them in from dusk til dawn?
The coop is not big enough for a heater in the winter- how do I keep them warm? Likewise in the summer, how do I get some air circulating in there without compromising safety?
I live in an area that has birds of prey, coyotes, the occasional fox, so they have to be secure. Things don't usually come into my yard, because of my dog, but it happens on occasions. Owls and hawks are frequent however, we even have a hawk nest in our tree.
This is the tractor we got. I know the reviews are iffy on this- but we are doing some modifications, and it's really not bad, I can move it easily, which is important. It's fairly sturdy with some extra screws and some mods: http://www.amazon.com/Pawhut-Wheeled-Tractor-House-Chicken/dp/B00GU2W54Q
Thanks in advance for any advice!