SOLAR POWERED Chicken Tractor 1.1
Located in Central Mississippi so do not need solid floor, it is covered with 1/2 inch harware cloth like all other wired areas. Droppings fall through to grass, no clean up. Heat is a problem not cold weather conditions. Elevated and open floor allows for lots of air flow with additional air flow from chimney effect described later. I can drop clear plastic curtain on northside to cut that draft in winter, if super cold a few days then sides and front get temporary plastic cover, floor stays open. Needs to be heavy to resist winds from Hurricanes, and severe thunderstorms. Depending on availablilty I raise either 100% Rhode Island or New Hampshire Reds, but prefer Red Sex links if I can get them. Keep only two roosters for protection to work with dog.
1. 6 X16 Ft. about 1400 lbs, Six tires on swivels very easy to move by one person every three weeks.
2. Roost space for 48 chickens, one foot per bird, only for overnight and severe weather habitation, Pastured in fenced area, patrolled by our varmint killer dog Luna, dog bonds to flock. Water/ food/ grit/oyster shell movable station so chickens do not have to go to tractor to eat and drink. Free range saves tons on feed.
3. Several small colored balls with bell inside, hanging CDs, small hay rack, and other toys to keep them busy when inside and not on roosts. Toys distract chickens to keep restless picking from starting. Large wash tub with mix of dirt, sand, and diatomaceous earth for dust baths in pasture to cut down on hole making.
4. Darkened out (flat black painted on inside) nest boxes (9), on north side in shade and under extended roof with pine shavings for bedding and 1 wooden egg in each, access from outside of tractor via two full length top mounted doors.
5. Sliding gates (3) and two nest box doors, all lock with tight spring fasteners
6. Front Wall ( south facing) is double sheet metal with 1 1/2 inch air gap. The overhang roof in spring and summer when sun is high carries cooling shadow down to lower part of wall where wire is, Cool air is drawn through gap at bottom of wall by heating of top roof area above the gap where heating causes chimmy effect, also cool air entering from floor, lower side walled wired areas and area in shade on north side above nest boxes. In picture plastic is over area above boxes for winter. In winter as days get shorter and colder and sun is lower, the wall is hit and heated by Sun. Radiation, conduction, and convection carry heat into top of roost area via double wall gap.
7. 12 Volt solar powered lighting system, two lamps, 1 watt each 12 volt LED give about 25 watt each (50 Watt total) equivalent of incandescent warm white light to maintain 14 hour "light" day for laying year round. Timer adjusted every two weeks to maintain 14 hours of light. See timer and control box in picture. Also 12 volt thermostat controlled 12 volt/50 watt incandescent blub water heater in bottom of white box next to feeder. Not using inverter because it wastes too much 12 volt storage capacity to make 110 AC. KISS
8. Home made treadle feeder is vermin proof, only weight of full grown chicken can open it. It closes when chicken steps off.
9. Three different sliding gates(east, west and south sides), it can stay in place 3 weeks since they stay mostly on the side where the gate is open, one side per week. Shade under tractor, also from trees around one acre fenced area, and remote feed/water station.. they can also access yard and garden through a gate if bug and weed clean up is needed..
Hope this gives you some ideas, large gate on west side allows me full access to inside, roosts are removable for cleaning as is all else. Once a year total clean with bleach water/coop cleaner and treat all areas with food grade Diatomaceous earth for vector control as needed, also added to feed for worming and mineral suppliment. . One lb of food grade Diatomaceous Earth per 50 lbs feed.
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