Hey everybody. I've only been on BYC for a couple of months (although I've been lurking a little longer) and I'd just like to say it's been great here. My family gets annoyed when I talk too much about my chickens and I can come here any time to read about all your chickens and ask questions.
Until now I've only been caring for rescued chicks and their mother, but before I ever rescued the chicks, I'd already been thinking of getting laying hens. Now an opportunity has come up to trade the chicks (they're all bantams) for some laying hens. My plan was to let the mom out of the coop with covered run as soon the chicks can take care of themselves because she has been living wild for at least 4 years and does not enjoy being confined. But I will feel terrible when she lays more eggs to just let them fend for themselves (all the chicks die within a day or two every time due to predators), and I won't be able to put her back in the coop once the big hens are in. She doesn't get on very well with other chickens.
I have an idea and would love to know from all of you if I'm on the right track and any ideas for improvements or changes.
I want to build a broody tractor that she can use to nest in and raise her chicks every time she goes broody and then rehome the chicks and possibly keep a few as pets if circumstances allow later. So far my idea is to build a wooden box attached to a small run. The box will have a pop door on the side covered by the run and on the opposite side I will be able to open it up for cleaning. The run will be a rectangular frame covered in chicken wire, the kind with very small holes. I was thinking the nest box could be 50x50cm (approximately 1.6x1.6' I think) and the run would be 50x150cm (1.6x4.9'). The entire thing will also be 1.6' high. I would put her in there whenever she goes broody and then leave her in there until the chicks are around 4 weeks old. I could also use it for my other chickens if I need to isolate any or introduce new ones at any point. As it will be a tractor I can move it every day once the eggs have hatched, I have a very big yard and garden.
Does this sound big enough? Or is there anything you would change to make it more comfortable for her? She's a Naked Neck bantam mix of some sort, but my laying hens will be Boschveld, I think they're quite big. Although the bigger hens won't be using it unless they're ill or injured so probably won't need too much space?