My five chooks have a nice large coop and secure run, but we like to take them to our overgrown vegetable garden so they can play around and gorge themselves on veggies and bugs. However, it's about 200 feet, and the young rooster gets worried if I carry them one or two at a time... so, I needed a little wagon.
For two weeks I haunted garage sales and craigslist for a little red wagon, to no avail, so I found four lawnmower wheels (7" diameter, $5.49 each) and built the rest from scrap materials. It took less than an hour and a half.
Here's the finished result:
The wheels had 1/2" holes, and I have lots of long pieces of 1/2" threaded rod, so I cut the rods to length for axles. I then cut an old piece of conduit to length for the shafts to hold the axles.
I put a washer on each side of the wheels, and two nuts tightened against each other on the outside to hold it all together.
I was going to use that roll of pipe hanger strap to hold the assembly to the frame, but then I found some better pipe hangers in my plumbing scrap drawer.
I framed it with two pieces of 2x3 and some 1/2" plywood. I wanted the front axle to pivot/steer, so I mounted that with a single through lag bolt. I had purchased a some 2x3's on sale for $1.49 each, and I used one of those, so we can add that to my cost, making my total out-of-pocket (including tax) $25.09.
One washer between the boards is sufficient, it pivots easily.
Here's the finished frame.
I angled the front corners of the frame so the pull ropes won't hang up. I don't need to make tight turns, since it is narrow and top heavy, but it turns enough to make smooth sweeping curves.
I used a tall, long narrow box. It's 14" x 36", lots of room for the chickens, but narrow enough that I can easily roll the whole thing into the coop and through the gate to the garden. If it was even a few inches wider it would be more difficult to use this way. I just stapled it to the frame with 5/8" construction staples.
I cut out windows, and used string to tie some plastic fencing scraps, so they can see out during their adventurous voyages. I put hay in the bottom to cushion their ride.
They love their trips to the garden, and they don't mind much when I collect them and put them in the wagon for the trip home, because they know they'll get to come out again.
Like passengers in a railroad car...
After 9 months and a lot of chicken garden parties, the box was getting beat up. Getting caught in the rain didn't help.
I spent a few hours in the shop last evening, using almost entirely scrap and salvaged materials. The only new elements were one eight foot 2x2 and a few small steel angle braces.
All ready to go, but it rained a lot today. I hope its sunny tomorrow so I can give it a whirl. Do you think they'll like the improvements?
The cardboard top flips up to load them, but the back door hinges down to let them out.
OK, We've tried it out a few times. I had to add a cardboard liner so they wouldn't get their feathers and wings stuck in the chicken wire, and some mesh on the floor so they don't slip and slide when I go down the hill.
And here they are returning to the coop after a 2-1/2 hour garden party on July 4th, their crops are full.