Three Birds

By capsicum · Jul 13, 2012 ·
  1. capsicum
    Article in progress.

    This is a chicken tractor good for three medium to small chickens or two big chickens. Perch length of 24inches is the limiting factor. It would also make a good broody nest. The roof is about 6ft by 4 ft, the box is 2ft by 4ft, and the high edge is about 6ft from the ground. One side is two big doors for collecting eggs and cleaning. The chicken door is on the opposite side with a small porch and cleated ramp. The legs and wheels raise the floor to about 30 inches so no bending over is required.(Note: I don't have high winds, this may be a bit too light, high, and narrow with a big roof/sail for some areas)

    The perch is only about 10 inches of the floor so they all prefer to sleep on top of a large crate[5ft high] that is under a tarp in an old dog kennel that's in their main run, even when it's windy and raining. But they like going in and out of the tractor during the day and it has their favorite nest box.

    I'm going to list the construction method, then build specs and then modifications I would make if building again.

    Most of the joints were sanded [for good glue bond], glued, nailed, screwed, and caulked. The screws and nails help clamp the pieces together and provide enough strength to prevent glue creep. (A slow, long term molecular slipping issue with some polymers when under a moderate load. Like cool taffy, pull really hard and it breaks, pull moderately and it deforms into a thin strand.) The glue makes a rigid structure, increases short term loading strength greatly, seals joints, and prevents nails and screws from loosening & joints from moving and squeaking.

    I used TiteBond-2 moisture tolerant yellow wood glue, must be used over 55f or the bond may be chalky and weak, cheap by the quart or gallon, moisture proof enough for good/normal chicken keeping purposes, as strong as wood glue needs to be. Can not be re-glued after it fully dries, and needs some nails or screws to prevent creep.

    Construction adhesives may be easier, especially in cool conditions. More water proof than type 2 PVA yellow/white glue.
    Sub-floor & deck: are a bit gooey to work with, stink like solvent, and skin over fast(don't let them skin) but will work down to 20 deg F and are tolerant of damp wood.(Best strength is with dry wood) They are about the same strength as all-purpose/heavy-duty on dry wood.
    All purpose/heavy-duty: are good down to about 40f(check the labels). are easier to work with and come in low-voc[low solvent] types. All purpose is strong enough, but at the low end.(generally meant to prevent squeaks and loosening of nailing, not to replace nails.) AP generally needs a full day for 1/3 strength and a month of drying for full strength.

    Urethane glue(ie PL premium and gorilla glue) is about as strong as yellow glue(strongest of the bunch) and far more water proof, but is also the highest priced, foams up slightly so it seals some gaps and doesn't need much or it will ooze out (No strength across gaps. Foam easy to chisel off once dry though). Polyurethane is also moisture curing, it doesn't "dry", so more moisture(and temperature) means a faster cure time and really dry wood should get a wet rag before gluing, it also means that you can bond two non-porous surfaces(like metal to metal) and end grain joints are much stronger than with PVA glue. I recommend Loctite PL premium in the yellow tube. (28 oz tube if you have a quart caulking gun for $7, or standard 10oz for $5 at home depot)

    As I was using primarily old scrap wood and because glue, caulk, and primer/paint do not bond well with old oxidized or dirty wood, I pressure washed and/or scrubbed most of it with a hot water SimpleGreen-TSP mix, rinsed, then a cold water mild bleach solution(let stand on the wood a minute) and a final rinse and a few days-weeks to dry.(drying depends on climate)

    Otherwise I used, 1/2 inch OSB, fir and spruce 2x4" and 2x2" lumber and a piece of 1/4" plywood for the nest box. I also used some old cedar siding for the skinny bits(some door jam parts and ramp cleats) but any knot-free 1/2"-3/4" lumber, 2-4ft long, will do. Two 6 inch long bits of 1-1/2" doweling for the door latches.

    • The Roof is corregated steel with gasketed self-boring metal roof screws. They were pieces left from a house construction project with the square rib pattern and nice factory paint, but the cheap wavy-pattern galvanized tin will do to.(it will need wavy end strips for screwing to though.)
    • 10 inch air filled hand-truck/cart tires with 5/8 lag bolts for axles and some 5/8 washers. (the smooth part of the bolt shank must be as long as the hub.
    • 4 strap hinges for the big doors, minimum 3 inch.
    • Two 1/4"x2-1/2 to3" lag bolts for door latches.
    • Basic coated/plated flat top wood screws in 1-1/4", 1-5/8", 2", 2-1/2"
    • Nails from 6d-12d.
    • A couple door handles
    • A shelf bracket
    • heavy hardware cloth and poultry staples for the vent.
      [*]one or two hinges for the vent
      [*]1/2" foam insulation for the ceiling (with open 1/2"-1" air gap under tin roof, keeps coop much cooler in summer)
      [*]one tube of good outdoor white paintable caulk
      [*]1/2 gallon of primer(one coat)
      [*]1 gallon(two coats, third on floor) of semi-gloss or gloss exterior paint (easier to clean and more water resistant than flat) or whatever you have left over from a house.

    To be continued, I'm out of writing time for the day.

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