Hello BYC community! Welcome to my chicken tractor page! First of all thanks for everyone else that has posted their coops and tractors, I have got lots of great information from this site.
I have for several years now wanted to have some chickens for eggs but it never seemed feasible to have a permanent coop and run in my yard. I had never heard of a chicken tractor until about a month ago and I knew then that I had to build one.
So I started researching like crazy and of course there is so many different ways to build one, and so many different reasons people have for building theirs the way they did. One design feature I was pretty much sure of is that I did not want a floor in my coop. I want the poop to fall through so I never have to clean it out. I know this leaves the chickens in danger of a preditor digging under, but until I have trouble or have a change of heart I have built mine without a floor. Others have done this as well for different reasons such as they have a good guard dog, don't live around and predators, ect... I am planned on fencing in my yard for my dog and the tractor will stay inside the fence which will add another level of protection, although not complete protection.
Ok, that being said, lets take a look at what I built. I went with an A-Frame because of the strength of the triangular shape. I knew this tractor was going to be big and I wanted the frame to be rigid enough that when I picked up one end of it that I wouldn't sag/break in the middle. I wanted to build big enough for 10 - 12 hens. Even though I am only starting with 6. So here are some pictures of the build.
Ok the base of the frame is 16' x 6'. 15' is enclosed in the tractor and the extra foot at the coop end was left sticking out for the axel and wheels to attach too. The shape is based on a equallateral triangle with 6' sides, to make the geometry easier. My dad helped me with the build as his garage is much cleaner than mine. All angles that we cut were either at 30 degrees or 60 degrees. If you are trying to build something like I did and are confused as to which angle to cut, get a scrap piece of wood and cut the angle then hold it up to where it will attach and see if it looks right. Sometimes that is the easiest way to figure it out.
The base frame is made out of treated 2x4's 2-16' long and [email protected]" as the cross members. The ridge beam is also a 16' 2x4. The rafters we ripped out of a 2x6 to 2x3(actual full 3") which left a 2x2.5" scrap piece that we used on door frames, perches, nailers, we found a use for basically all the scrap.
Ok, this jumps forward a little bit in the build. I bought one 4x8 sheet of treated 1/2" plywood for the siding and nesting box lid. The rest of the nesting box was made from scrap plywood we had laying around. I used a normal hasp and a caribiner to lock the nesting box lid. All my hinges were just cheap zinc plated hinges. The nesting box lid actually extends inside the coop to help keep the rain out. We notched the inside edge of the lid (hard to describe) to accomadate the "dividers and side walls of the nesting box allowing it to still hinge open without binding.
The front lip of the nesting box hinges down for easy cleaning. You can just fling the bedding/refuse out inside the coop with a puddy knife from the outside. (because there is no floor and I'm just going to move the tractor anyways) Not shown in the picture is a simple hook and eye lock to hold up the lip normally.
Picture of nesting box and small vent/window in gable.
This is my door leading from the run into the coop. It has two sizes, the larger door is opened in the summer for more ventallation and can be closed and locked in the winter leaving the small door to help keep out drafts. Notice there is no way to lock the chickens in the coop at night because there is no floor. I may add one of these later, I haven't decided. I don't want to have to open and close a door every day or invest/ rig up and automatic opener system.
Picture of roofing going on. This is Ondura.... I think its called. its available at lowes or home depot. doesn't heat up like metal and costs about the same. It comes in 4x6.5' sheets and a ridge cap is also available.
Picture showing the ventallation left below the ridge cap. The nailers are 1x4 treated boards that run across rafters.
This one shows the full length perch I have at the top, and the opening at the gable of the coop allowing chickens to travel the full length of the tractor without getting down. By the way we made the perches out of a 2x2 that we then 45ed the corners on the table saw to make them an octagon.
Tractor loaded on the trailer, its a beast.......... I'm glad I have a 16' trailer so I could take it home. lol
Picture shows front door to the run, 2x4 handles, this thing is still heavy. I wouldn't try to pull it up a hill. : )
oh yeah, here is the ladder we added. It is screwed to the frame on one end and hung from a chain on the other, keeping it off the ground so it can move with the tractor.
Tractor home with chickens in it.
This shows the larger door open (hung from a chain and hook). Also a couple solar lights, I thought these might attract bugs at night and the chickens might like it. Or maybe i'll remove them I'm not sure yet.......
I built my feeder and waterer out of a single 10' x 4" pvc pipe. the waterer holds about 3.5 to 4 gallons, and the chicken nipple are attached directly to it.
These pullets I bought from a friend are about 12 weeks old and have never used a chicken nipple system. It did take them a few hours to adjust to them but they did figure them out.
The feeder design I saw online and loved as it is weatherproof and I wanted the feeder and waterer out in the run area.
Almost for got about the wheels and axle... The axel is a 6' x 5/8" piece of all thread and the wheels are 10" flat free tires.
It is convienent my nesting boxes are at the right height to help support axel. I didn't plan that but it worked great.
I wrote this article while in a rush, lol. I know there are many things I left out. I wouldn't try building this design unless you are somewhat handy and if you are then you can figure out the rest. I will try to look in from time to time and answer anyone's questions.
Thanks again BYC