[FONT=times new roman,times]Chicken Tractor on its way...
I live in Western NY, and I'm designing for 4-5 chickens even though I have picked up 6 from a local feed store. The coop is 5'X3.5'. The run is approximately 12'X5'. I have plenty of land so I'm really hoping that everyone is correct in how often I will have to move the tractor to keep it from just being dirt underneath it. I looked to build one as big as possible, but still allow me to move it alone. You will notice the 2"X2" partial framing that I've used as well as the wheels that can easily be placed on and off. My time is very limited, so I tried to design the coop to be easy to clean.[/FONT]
[FONT=times new roman,times]Here you can see the partially constructed coop. The plywood was one of the few things I had to buy, because I already had most of the other materials. It took 3 sheets. The total cost was approximately $100. I carefully laid out the parts before cutting or I definitely would have used more sheets. [/FONT]
[FONT=times new roman,times]The frame of the run and the coop has been raised in this picture. The heaviest aspect of the coop is definitely the 3/8" plywood. The run has a roost and the food and water will be hung from the top of the run. There is a small door in the side that is just for filling the water and food, but if necessary I can squat low and get into the run. I have the nest boxes on the side for very easy egg access. [/FONT]
[FONT=times new roman,times]This picture shows the cutest chicken that has been working with me to finish it. You can see the roof of the nest box raises for easy gathering of the eggs from the outside.[/FONT]
[FONT=times new roman,times]This picture shows the nearly finished coop. You can see the front coop door is closed with a straight tube. The tube is actually a cut off shaft from a golf club. There is plenty of ventilation and light in the coop, but I have plexiglass that can cover all of the hardware cloth under the roof in very heavy wind or cold. [/FONT]
[FONT=times new roman,times]The back of the coop has two doors. The bottom door swings down so the floor can be pulled out for easy cleaning. The main door is big enough for me to put my shoulders into the coop. The wheels can go on and off easy enough, but I still need to build a handle to help me lift the corner while I do it. [/FONT]
[FONT=times new roman,times]You can see the roosts inside are in a "T" for plenty of surface for 5 chickens. The floor has old vinyl flooring stapled down.
I have just finished the coop and can't comment yet too much on what I don't like about it. The weight is definitely near the limit of what I want to move on my own on a frequent basis. I plan to use the coop all year round. I will move it into space I have in a barn when significant snow is expected.[/FONT]
After three weeks I haven't changed anything. It is at the upper limit of weight, but it's not tough for me to move. I will look to improve my mechanism to open and close the door at some point. The birds are getting big and I move it every 2-3 days. The hanging water I have in the run is great. Cleaning is very easy. The door to the run isn't too sturdy, but I don't open it often. The water last them almost a week.
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After 3 years the coup still is working although I found that I just open up the run most days. My dogs protect the chickens just fine. The cats don't bother the chickens at all. [/FONT]