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How big of a chicken tractor for 6 hens?

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 

Hi , I am new to this forum . My husband and I have 5 week old chicks six of them. And we want to build a tractor that has a little house with a ramp and a fenced in yard with wheels. But need to know how big should the housing be ?

Thank you for your patience.


Edited by Jenn's_ chicks - 5/21/11 at 8:25am
post #2 of 11

First welcome-byc

You have 6 chicks right? Are you going to cut back to 2 hens? For 2 hens a chicken tractor would be great are you wanting an ark tractor or a hoop house or a tractor? Congrats!

Nate

post #3 of 11

Will the chickens always live in the tractor, summer and winter???  If that's the case, it's still a bit region dependent.  If you don't really get a winter, then a 3x3 housing would probably work (for 2 hens).  The six chicks vs. 2 hens was a bit confusing...  You'd want the tractor itself to be at least 20 sq. ft. (for 2 hens).  Of course if you're in an area that gets winters, a larger housing would be much better.  For six bird that size would change...


Edited by teach1rusl - 5/20/11 at 6:12pm

Caretaker of a lovely mixed flock including: australorp, plymouth rocks, wyandotte, d'uccles, silkies, EEs, andalusian, and a few seramas, plus a golden retriever, great dane, and three cats.  I always swore that I wouldn't succumb to chicken math.  I lied.
 

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Caretaker of a lovely mixed flock including: australorp, plymouth rocks, wyandotte, d'uccles, silkies, EEs, andalusian, and a few seramas, plus a golden retriever, great dane, and three cats.  I always swore that I wouldn't succumb to chicken math.  I lied.
 

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post #4 of 11
Thread Starter 

I am soooo sorry about the number 2 getting in there..... I have six hens, well soon to be hens. I in New York state. So yes winter is a problem. I want to do what is best for them....... The six hens..... Not two.... Sorry hmm

post #5 of 11

First, you can go in and edit your title, so you may want to do that.  Click on your post and look for an edit button.  That way when/if more folks chime in today, there won't be so much confusion...

Personally, with six birds in an area that gets winters, I'd opt for a stationary coop, but that's JMO.  Some have both, a tractor for warmer months and a permanent coop for winter.  But that just seems double the work to me.
Are you looking at a rectangular type tractor??  Those seem to give more workable space than the triangular kind, plus you can roof (even if just tin) more of the run part (for rain and snow if that'll be their winter home too).  Most folks say at least 10 sq. ft of run space per bird, so that would be 60 sq. ft.  If you're moving it every day (which gets tiresome because larger tractors are heavy), you might get by with 8 sq. ft. per hen.  Your birds would spend quite a bit more time indoors in the winter, especially if you get snow.  If the run is covered, it will encourage them to come out a lot more - they don't mind the cold nearly as much as the snow.  With six hens, I wouldn't want a housing smaller than 24 sq. ft. in NY.  Personally, I think tractors are more doable in the southern states, or for folks who just have a 3 or 4 birds. 
Just curious, why are you not wanting a fixed coop???

PS - Keep in mind that what seems quite roomy for  several 6 oz. chicks becomes pretty confining to those same chickens when they're the size of small house cats.


Edited by teach1rusl - 5/21/11 at 5:58am

Caretaker of a lovely mixed flock including: australorp, plymouth rocks, wyandotte, d'uccles, silkies, EEs, andalusian, and a few seramas, plus a golden retriever, great dane, and three cats.  I always swore that I wouldn't succumb to chicken math.  I lied.
 

Reply

Caretaker of a lovely mixed flock including: australorp, plymouth rocks, wyandotte, d'uccles, silkies, EEs, andalusian, and a few seramas, plus a golden retriever, great dane, and three cats.  I always swore that I wouldn't succumb to chicken math.  I lied.
 

Reply
post #6 of 11

Agreed.  Having a tractor for the 4-5 months of ranging isn't a bad idea.  It's healthy and allows them to range and fertilize over an acre of ground for you over the course of the summer.  Come winter, I'd have more permanent and stout housing ready for them.  This winter coop needs to be reasonable large as they'll be cooped up during long, long periods of bad weather and long dark nights.   Six full sized hens would want a winter coop in the 8x12 range to be able to move about, fit a roost, feed and water stations, etc.   You virtually cannot build it too big.

 

 

Practicing Sustainable Agriculture At The 45th Parallel

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Practicing Sustainable Agriculture At The 45th Parallel

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post #7 of 11
Thread Starter 

I was looking to do the tractor so they can free range under control. I have neighbors that would not like the birds on there porch.
I also wanted to keep the smell of a coop at bay, so I thought a tractor would be helpful in that also.

My husband is thinking of also building a more perm.house for the hens for the winter.

post #8 of 11

With six hens, I truly don't think you'll have any worries with coop smells as long as you stay on top of the poop situation.  Do a search on dropping boards.  With six hens it would literally take you a minute a day to scrape your dropping boards each morning.  At least in spring, summer, and fall, I'll bet I don't find a handful of droppings in my coops bedding.  Two bales of wood shavings lasts me for three seasons.  Now I do always have to do a bedding clean-out after winter, because they do stay indoors a lot more, so I end up with a lot more coop poop, even with scraping the dropping boards daily.

If your run is on the small side (right at the 10 sq. ft. general guideline), then I'd just keep a few inches of sand in it.  Many do.  It kind of works like a large litter box.  The poop dries quickly, the sand dries fairly quickly after rains and such, much of the poop just seems to disappear (sifts down?? dries up???).  And the stuff that clumps is easily sifted, raked out each week. 

Really, if your ventilation is adequate, and you maintain your coop properly, smells will be no issue.  The only time I smell poop is when it's laying on the dropping board from the nightly collection (which I promptly scrape into my poop bucket - goes to compost), or when one of the girls drops a smelly cecal poo right next to me.  Look into it - you might prefer that to a tractor, which can get pretty heavy to pull around each day.

Caretaker of a lovely mixed flock including: australorp, plymouth rocks, wyandotte, d'uccles, silkies, EEs, andalusian, and a few seramas, plus a golden retriever, great dane, and three cats.  I always swore that I wouldn't succumb to chicken math.  I lied.
 

Reply

Caretaker of a lovely mixed flock including: australorp, plymouth rocks, wyandotte, d'uccles, silkies, EEs, andalusian, and a few seramas, plus a golden retriever, great dane, and three cats.  I always swore that I wouldn't succumb to chicken math.  I lied.
 

Reply
post #9 of 11
Thread Starter 

Thank you so much. Hubby and I are outside making a plan. Who know maybe pictures will come with my next post. We will see.

post #10 of 11

I live in the Hudson Valley and we have a tractor for our 8 hens.  They wintered in it as well.  If you look on my byc page you can see it.  Here is a pic as well:
http://www.backyardchickens.com/forum/uploads/54168_chicken_tractor.jpg

Here is a winter pic of our tractor and run:
http://www.backyardchickens.com/forum/uploads/54168_100_3477.jpg

Our tractor is 4x8 and our pvc run is 10x8.  We move it every day or every other day.  For the winter we parked it by the kitchen porch for access to the exterior outlet to plug in the cookie tin water heater.  Our hens were fine even in the coldest and snowiest of days this past winter.  The only time I did not open the pop door was when it was storming out.  No issues.  No smell as I used the deep litter method and de.  The run was scraped out when I had to shovel the snow out of it.  Worked fine.  It can be done if you put lots of thought into it.  You have to decide what is right for your area.  I know there are many naysayers about having tractors in the north and dealing with snow and cold but we put a lot of thought into the building of it and what to do over the winter.  I hope this helps!

Mom of 3 girls, 1 calico cat, 7 spoiled silkies, a coop full of terrorists and the start of a Heritage RIR flock.  Love cheeps!!!
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Mom of 3 girls, 1 calico cat, 7 spoiled silkies, a coop full of terrorists and the start of a Heritage RIR flock.  Love cheeps!!!
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