I have 5 baby chicks ready for a coop in about a month, just enough time to build a solution if I end up going that route but I'm hoping to find an easier solution I can afford (under $400). I saw a great-looking tractor at my local feed store: it is black coated metal, has a nice elevated nesting box/coop that looks predator-proof, easy access for getting eggs and of course it has wheels. I am in a dry California climate so there minimal coverage of the nesting box would be sufficient except for major storms,when it would conveniently fit in my garage if necessary.
It is bottomless though, which makes me think a motivated predator could spend a little time digging their way in. Maybe a coyote? We don't really have foxes; coyotes, skunks and opossums are in abundance. I do have a large dog to protect them but 1) the dog is presently indoors during the daytime to prevent barking and 2) I haven't determined he wouldn't be the motivated predator who'd dig them out...German Shepherds are a bit unpredictable if they haven't been trained for livestock duties. For the price of the fancy tractor I could get a permanent or semi-portable coop that may be more predator-proof but I would lose the advantages of the portable tractor.
I've read several message board posts and blogs about this but nothing persuasive--does anyone have hands-on experience in favor or against tractors? Am I over-thinking this?