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50 layer tractor portable

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 

I am trying to design a portable coop for 50 hens for an orphanage I work with in Bolivia.  Ideally it would be light enough to move by 1-2 kids around 10 years old, with a contained water system to fill not more than once daily (maybe 25L bucket with pvc and 6 nipples), and a feeder system that is fillable from the outside that had nearly 4meters of feeder space. I'd love suggestions and ideas!  I plan to use 10 5-gallon buckets for nest boxes in a frame and 9m of perches in an enclosed end of the tractor (2mx3m).  The remaining 4mx 3m area under shadecloth.  I was thinking 3 feet tall (one roll of chicken wire) with a frame on top with shadecloth and on hinges to be able to get in.  

I guess the things I need help with are: feeders and wheel construction. 

Thanks for your advice and help!  These kiddos will really benefit from the added protein in their diet as well as the opportunity to manage the hens and maybe sell some extra eggs.

I'll try to scan my drawings for input!

post #2 of 9

You are doing a GREAT THING and I commend you for that. :)

There are some challenges here, like making it lightweight.   That some how translates   to not predator safe.  Where you  are I am not sure what predators you may have to  deal with ???

The watering nipple system is a good one mentioned.    You can also make a feed system like this one ....

That is assuming that you will be able to get  processed chicken feed.   I f only chicken food  available at the time is like miscellaneous  grains  and table scraps. and garden greens,  then just throw it loose into run area.

Post some Pix of your ideas and maybe the ground  areas where it will be at.   I would very much like to share more thoughts here.

WISHING YOU BEST and :welcome

post #3 of 9

x2 on the great thing.


seems Boliva has multiple predators.


many different dog types, small to large cats, and even a variety of honey badger.


depending on what the orphanage has to deal with predator wise, would determine how strong I would likely make the tractor.


I think you should start there, and then make your plans.

post #4 of 9
Thread Starter 

Ok, I am not sure how well you can read these since they were in pencil.  Essentially, I am thinking a 3mx6m total area with 2x3m area enclosed with walls and roof. This area will have a tin roof, hopefully on hinges or able to be removed by a few people to clean well.  Protruding through the back wall will be the cabinet for nest boxes (about 25cm sticking out and 25cm on inside) using 20-25L buckets for nests.  The part on outside will have a hinged roof to access the holes in the buckets to collect eggs.  This will be 30 off the ground at bottom, and the top will be at about 60cm with hopefully all 10nests in a row.  I'd like it this low so the kids can collect eggs easily.  On the inside, from the nest boxes will be a space of 50cm before the roosts begin.  4 perches across the width of the building every 35cm at heights of 65cm, 80cm, 90cm, 100cm with the last one 25cm from the wall.  The roof is pitched, with the end over the highest roost at 1.5m down to 1m over nests.  

The forward wall will have a horizontal sliding door 30cmx50cm set in 20cm from perimeter with a handle on outside to facilitate closing.  

The run-out area will be .9m tall (width of chicken wire) with a wooden frame and a "roof" of shadecloth on a frame (maybe in 2-3 panels on each side with a support down the middle) and the panels on hinges so we can open it and step in to catch the hens.

Water: a bucket on a platform on the center cross support of run-out that is plumbed to 6 nipples at appropriate height.

**Feed: this is trickier.  I was looking at the PVC feeders with elbows and a couple feet of pipe with holes cut in it, but I think I will need close to 4 linear meters of feeder space and that can accommodate 4-5 kg per day.  The problems I have read about pvc feeders is clumping of feed with moisture.  It can rain a few inches every day here during the rainy season.Whatever method, I'd like it to be accessible from the outside and not too complex (DIY type with no electric. I guess if we could rig a homemade crank auger that may work)

Wheels/axle--I have no idea!  I'd like it to be easy to move by a couple of 10 year olds every day or two. They will be cograzing with a pair of dairy cows.

Availability of materials is reasonable, but the more DIY with common things, the better.  We have a full woodshop (table and radial arm saws, band saws, planers, etc) and a metal shop with a hydraulic press and a welder, though not too much welding experience.

***So, now my biggest needs: wheels!! Then, what size lumber is sufficient to be light but sturdy (we have some very dense hardwoods here, but they are very heavy--not much pine and not much is pressure treated, so the dense woods are more durable over time); feeder options, input on arrangement inside the coop area, need for a floor (hopefully not)

Predators--maybe small snakes, but infrequent, a few housecats, predatory birds, ants.  The orphanage has a perimeter fence and is pretty urban, so not much wildlife can enter.

Thanks for your input!



post #5 of 9

It is good to hear that the predator issue is quite minimal.    

Wood.....    Use what ever is available.

Wheels....   If you can find some from  retired wheel barrows,    If not, then make some from wood circles.  Make diameter so easily moves across ground.   It only needs to be movable, and not transported long distances.   When wood rots in 5 years,  you may have different plans and ideas then.  Older bicycle wheels may work as well.

Feeder...    Here is what I am thinking would work.    A 25 L bucket with slots cut along bottom sides.     Place in a larger flat dish type wooden circle maybe 1m diameter.  Have a circular rim around the outside to keep feed from being spilled out onto ground..   The chickens will scratch some out anyways, but that will minimize waste.    Cover whole thing with an umbrella type structure to keep out rain.     Have this in the run part of the coop, and outside.     Keep water close by.

Skip floor in coop compartment.  Ground will be just fine.    Less effort to clean and all will be moved to fresh area frequently.   Rain will wash  chicken gumdrops into soil and make grass and whatever grow well.

Let me know what my ideas sound like to your circumstances. :)

post #6 of 9

Just a general observation, but try to source everything in the the area. I have worked in development for over 20 years, and i have seen far too many incidents where imported technologies / materials make repair / fixing something almost impossible. If its made from materials available locally, it seems that repairs and maintenance are more likely to make the enterprise sustainable. I would also say that sharing your design with the community and those you may hire to build the structure, and working with them to fine tune your design will also add to its sustainability. 


All the best


"The whole problem of the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts." Bertrand Russell
"The whole problem of the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts." Bertrand Russell
post #7 of 9
Thread Starter 

Thanks for all the good input. We work with Christian Veterinary Mission (I am a veterinarian); if you want to check out our long-term work or follow our progress  We always try to be very intentional about sustainable development.  All the training of kids and the veterinary care will be done by my veterinary students with the hope of instilling in them an understanding of sustainability and empower them to serve in their own communities.  I am hoping the kids will learn that slightly better management of hens doesn't have to cost more, especially compared to the benefits.  Most families (even in "suburbs" of our large city) have free range chickens wandering the roads just to trap one occasionally for dinner and continue to buy commercially produced eggs instead of collecting their own.

As far as the feeder, for 50 hens wouldn't I need lots more trough space? or is it not as important since they'll be grazing and receiving kitchen waste? Should the scraps be just tossed in or placed in a bag or basket?  With frequent moving, I didn't think parasitism would be too bad for ground feeding of veggies.



post #8 of 9

I would say that multiple feed stations is better (not sure how doable for your plans), as it would allow subordinates to feed at the same time as more dominant ones. I keep just 15-20 chickens but have 3 feeding stations to ensure that they all get a bite at the cherry. I'd just toss the food scraps around - again it allows greater access for subordinate birds.




"The whole problem of the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts." Bertrand Russell
"The whole problem of the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts." Bertrand Russell
post #9 of 9

:goodpost:   I agree with CT, about  just throwing the scraps around.     The chickens will pick it clean.    Take also into consideration that the  Top chickens will eat first.  Once they are satisfied , they will wander away scratching and searching for  insects and grit.    The subordinates will move into the feeder area and eat then.    Trying to sit all at the table at same time would be rather impractical with the numbers you are looking to raise.   A long rain gutter trough  may work, but it may incur  problems during rain.   Once you have things going, you may fine tune some of your setup.

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