50 CHICKEN chicken tractor!! Pics and Progress!

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by colburg, Sep 10, 2012.

  1. colburg

    colburg Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Sep 10, 2012
    Loving, NM
    EDIT: This started as a tractor for 100 chickens, but has been changed to 50 due to builder miscalculations.



    In posting this, I’m hoping for ideas and tips as I go so that I can correct mistakes before they become too built in and uncorrectable.
    This ain’t gonna be no glitzy ritz. It’s going to be a functional, non-eye-sore, chicken tractor complete with enclosed run, hen house, roosts, nests, everything. The concept for this came from http://henhoops.com/hen-hoop-8156.html
    .

    We will free range them during the day in both the orchard and pasture as long as we don’t have a daytime predator. If we do have problems in the daytime, we can close them up until the problem is dealt with.
    With that in mind, I’ll start with the pregame goals. Hopefully I can get enough pics as I go so that if anyone actually follows this, they can picture what’s going on.

    Goals:
    1. Make it so that my wife can move it by hand. (Or at least with the 4-wheeler.)
    2. 2 Levels of Lift: 2-4 inches for small moves, must have 14” to move in and out of orchard.
    3. Structurally sound from the beginning. The only modifications I want to make are minor ones. Catastrophic failure is not an option.
    4. 50 up to 100 chicken capacity.
    5. At least 6’ tall in the middle of the run.
    6. Cannot be so large that it won’t maneuver through 30’x30’tree spacing in orchard.
    7. Deadline of Oct 5. It seems like the only way I have time to do something is to have a hard deadline. Why Oct 5th, because we ordered 50 chicks that arrived on the 31st of August. They’re in the yard in an 8’ diameter stock tank with the bottom cut out. They get moved to a new spot of grass about every 4 days. They’ll have to be out of there at 4-6 weeks.

    Meeting Goals:
    1. The frame will sit on the ground when not in transit. In order for her(or anyone else for that matter) to move it without the tractor(actual Farmall Tractor), it must have wheels. Bare minimum or 4 wheels for balance and stability.
    2. Leverage will be required to lift it by hand. An idea such as http://avianaquamiser.com/posts/Revised_chicken_tractor_wheel_lift/ will be designed and beefed up once everything else is built.
    3. Sound Structure is obvious, yet challenging while keeping the weight down.
    4. For 50 chickens enclosed 100% of the time, this would require 10 sq ft/chicken or 500 sq ft of space. Since this is a, hopefully, a mobile chicken tractor, Most recommendations fall to 4 sq ft/chicken, or 200sqft total for 50 chickens, or 400 sq ft for 100 chickens. I realize that we could go smaller, but at 4sqft/chicken, we can leave for a few days and rely on neighbors/friends to only collect the eggs.
    5. Arched cattle panels overlaid with chicken wire. A 16’x54” cattle panel arched to 6ft tall is about 8ft wide. At 8’ wide, the tractor would be 50ft long. If the cattle panels are made to be 19’6”, I can get 13’wide, 6-1/2’ tall. Requires 31ft in length. I can work with this. Since my 2x8’s are 16’ long and the cattle panels are 16’ long, my frame will be 13’x32’, 416sqft. This goal also meets goal #6.
    Other Requirements:
    1. 8 laying nests. I think this is enough for 100 chickens. Is it enough? Need to research this quick.
    2. 80 linear feet of roosting space. This gives the recommended 8” of roost per chicken for 100 chickens.
    3. Water will be a 30 or 55 gallon blue plastic drum connected to poultry nipples with PVC. Need to figure out how to freeze-proof this system, or switch to something else in winter. Quick note on our winters: the coldest it’s ever been is -11 for a couple of hours two years ago. Other than that, something in the teens, possibly even single digits, for 3-5 days is our normal cold snap.
    4. I don’t want the hen house to be any larger than 5’x13’. It will be raised 12-18” off the ground.
    5. No insulation in hen house. Just draft free in the winter, windows for the summer. BTW, summers here will top 110F at least once every year. Good ventilation is a must.
    6. Mesh floor in hen house. I know there are warnings against this, but I’ve seen it done many times before without problems. This will also help with ventilation.

    Have I bitten off more than I can chew? Now that I see all of that on paper, some of the confidence has given way to “Uh-Oh.”
    Any ideas along the way will be greatly appreciated.
    Thanks for reading.
     
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2012
  2. foulplay

    foulplay Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sounds good you have a lot of goals but that is very good. here is my hen house it is 8x16 and holds about 100 birds (and 2 roosters) It is all reused material and only cost me hardware.

    [​IMG][​IMG]
     
  3. colburg

    colburg Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I like the idea of just a hen house without an enclosed run, but we have too many coyotes and foxes to not have the option of keeping them locked up on occasion. How do you deal with predators?

    How many nests do you have for 100 layers?

    Thanks,
     
  4. perchie.girl

    perchie.girl Desert Dweller Premium Member

    Welcome [​IMG] from San Diego High desert. When I was a kid I lived in Roswell...

    I would think youd need at least ten nests one for every ten hens.

    I like that Hen hoops construction It would be very very sturdy. Plan out your materials then do an estimate of how much its going to weigh. Your wife may need help to be able to move it even with the quad.

    100 birds that are not allowed to free range will need at least four square foot each. 400 square feet. 5' x 13' is 65 square feet. Even paring that down to two square feet per bird thats still 200 square feet. 8 x 16 is 128 square feet. and his birds can roam about.

    One of the reasons to use this rule of thumb for space is to keep them from picking on each other or egg eating. Just thoughts. Oh and another is to make a portable coop with a portable run that would detatch and ride on top to its next destination. Then you could make the run out of PVC and hardware cloth.

    Following your thoughts on the water.... A 55 gallon drum filled with water is going to weigh alot. One gallon of water weighs 8.35 lb. That's over 400 lbs filled. You might put that on its own rolling cart attached to the coop with tubing.
    one of those garden carts from home depot is heavy enough, but stability is going to be an issue. The wheels arent big enough on those things. You could insulate the drum or run a solar powered heater in it..... That is only speculation I don't know if they exist.... But you probably could figure something out.
    I look forward to pictures of your progress..... [​IMG] [​IMG]

    deb
     
  5. HouseMouseHens

    HouseMouseHens Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Portland, Oregon
    My Coop
    I was going to mention this. I have an 8x8 coop, and the max it can hold is 16 hens. a 5x13 coop is about the same square footage. I doubt 100 birds could even fit like sardines in my coop! You need at least 400 square feet coop space for 100 birds if they arn't going to free range. More is better. They need 10sqft of space in the run (more if they have less coop space), so your run would have to be more like 1000 sqft.
     
  6. colburg

    colburg Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Loving, NM
    I must have read something wrong. For some reason I was thinking the size of the run should be 4sqft/chicken if they're allowed to free range at times, but you and perchie are saying that coop space should be 4/chicken. Hmmmm, good thing we only started with 50.

    The only times we won't free range is when we're having coyote or fox problems.

    I've got the frame put together and few other things done(pics coming shortly) so this may just be a tractor for 40-50. Any ideas on how to change the title of my thread, it's misleading now.

    Thanks for chiming in. Please inform me of other miscalculations/errors as they're found.
     
  7. colburg

    colburg Chillin' With My Peeps

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    First lesson. Don't use cheap lumber where you need solid structure.
    [​IMG]



    If your building plans include making a tool so that you can gently pry to straighten some twisted lumber, RETHINK your plan.
    [​IMG]

    A trip back to town wasted about 2 hours, but doing it right is more important than doing it fast.
    [​IMG]

    I hope there are no more trips to town. I hate going to town.

    On a side note, our cute little chicks became vicious little peckers. They had pecked on little guy to death while I was at work and my wife waas taking our oldest daughter to dance. They were working on pecking a second that we quickly isolated and within 10 minutes were pecking a third one that is now isolated as well. All of the ones getting pecked are Delawares, the only yellow chicks we have. The Delawares are not the littlest, or weakest(actually, none of them look or act weak), or the slowest. All we can figure is they're getting pecked because they're white. My wife is going to pick up some of the blue stuff from Tractor Supply and some Pine Tar. From what we've read, these two products will stop all pecking. We're just going to rub some on the tails of all 50 chicks unless someone here has a better idea.
     
  8. colburg

    colburg Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Sep 10, 2012
    Loving, NM
    Hoop construction:
    4 cattle panels laid side by side with a fifth panel perpendicular is just right. Basically turns a 16ft panel into a 19.5ft panel. I acutally need a total of 9 panels, but 5 is all I can lift at one time.
    [​IMG]

    I put these panles in place noticed that they're actually springy enough to push out the 2x8's so a brace from one side to the other will be needed. [​IMG]
    Where the fifth panel attaches to the other 4, I had overlapped them by about 1 foot.
    [​IMG]

    This turned out to be a little overkill and stiffened up one side of the hoop way too much. Besides, now I get a little more height in the middle.
    I cut the welds and only overlapped them by 6 inches. 6 inches aligns the panels in such a way that they can be easily welded.
    [​IMG]





    I also decided to beef up the corners and where the two 16 footers are joined on the long side.
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    Next, attaching the chicken wire to the panels. Every little place that the wire got cut is a nice little razor waiting for an inopportune time to cut someone.
    [​IMG]
    So, each peice get wrapped around the panel, pulled tight with pliers, then crmiped in place with, can't think of the actuall name, but it's on the right side of the next pic.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]


    Now I'm ready to put this piece in place. Skip ahead a few steps and here's where I left it for the night.
    [​IMG]
    I can already tell that the cross piece in the middle will have to stay permanenlty and I'll also add a door frame to it for stability of the panels. The corners also need gussets.
     
  9. HouseMouseHens

    HouseMouseHens Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jul 31, 2012
    Portland, Oregon
    My Coop


    It's looking great! Can't wait to see the progress. How big is it?

    As for pecking issues, do the chicks have enough space wherever you are keeping them? This can cause issues.
     
  10. perchie.girl

    perchie.girl Desert Dweller Premium Member

     

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