Am I missing anything in my coop and run tha is needed for my chickens?

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

  1. mrwoodboat

    mrwoodboat Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Ok, so as I mentioned in a previous post, I am just getting back in to chickens. We picked up 9 Buff Orpingtons that are now 8 wks old and doing well, very tame and follow us around when they are out. I have built a large tractor that is 4' wide and 12' long with a 4'x3' hen house at the rear. The entire tractor is roofed with metal roofing and I used 2x4 welded wire for the run part. The HH is about 2' off the ground and holds 4 nesting boxes with an access door to collect the eggs. I have a 12" wide board with 1/2 strips across it every 8" for the hens to get into the hen house. Under neath the hen house, I have an automatic feeder using 3" PVC like a member posted on here, I also have a 5 gal waterer with 5 chicken nipples.- in the run part, I have 2 roosts that are at differing heights.

    The tractor ended up a bit too large to move around easily but I can drag it with my tractor to new ground. we let the birds out every afternoon for a bit to free range and they go back in when it gets dusk.

    Have I missed anything? Is there something that I should have that I didn't include here? The birds have really grown a good bit in the past 3 wks and it appears that everyone is getting along fine.

    I have another tractor just about finished- it is 3 1/2' wide x 8' long- going to put 3 hens and 1 roo in that one of another breed- haven't decided which breed yet-

    thanks all
     
  2. chfite

    chfite Chillin' With My Peeps

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    It strikes me that the 4x3 hen house is a bit small for 9 hens.

    Chris
     
  3. mrwoodboat

    mrwoodboat Chillin' With My Peeps

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    We are feeling like we only have 4, maybe 5 hens- the others are def roosters and I was sort of surprised that at 8 wks old, they are trying to crow....I am trading 4 of the roosters this weekend for 3 hens and a rooster- these will go in the other tractor...
     
  4. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    I built a tractor a few years back to keep seven hens and a rooster during part of the summer. Those tractors can get pretty heavy. I built two different sections so I could move it by hand, each section 4’ x 8’ so I had 64 square feet total for 8 chickens. With 8 adult chickens I had to move it every two or three days. If it rained and got the ground wet, two days was stretching it but I did occasionally get 4 days if the weather was really dry. Some people on this forum that have tractors move them a couple of times each day but I think a lot of that is an attempt to keep them from stripping the grass. We all manage them differently.

    I'm not sure how you have that henhouse part set up. I'm not sure how you could get four nests and sufficient roosts in that space for your nine chickens when they grow up. If all it is used for is nests or sleeping and they are never locked in there during their waking hours, the actual size of the coop section doesn't really matter. The space of the entire coop/run is what matters. Eight week old birds do not require nearly as much space as adult birds so think ahead.

    Is it for nests only and they will use the roosts in the run to sleep? At 8 weeks there is a reasonable chance they are not roosting yet but are still sleeping in a pile somewhere. If they will be sleeping on those roosts in the run, it is possible for something like a raccoon to reach through the holes in the 2x4 wire and eat them by parts. You might want to put some hardware cloth along the ends of the roosts so a raccoon or whatever can't reach in and get them while they are sleeping.

    Four nests are more than you will need for 9 hens. Two would have worked. It's probably not worth the effort to remove them but you could possibly have saved a bit of weight, space, and building time by making only two.

    I'm not sure what your climate is like. Those tractors are generally best for the better weather. They can present some challenges in winter in many locations. The vegetation may be covered with ice or snow. They may be harder to move. Tractors don't have to be as big as regular fixed coops and runs, but you do need to move them fairly often so that smaller space is not so important. The poop builds up pretty fast too. But if the ground is covered in snow, what good does it do to move them? There is nothing new for them to explore and they may feel confined to the coop part.

    What I'm trying to say is that in some climates and in the better parts of the year tractors work great though they are a time commitment since you have to move them often. But in some climates they may not be the best way to overwinter a flock. I have no idea what your conditions are like.

    As far as if you are missing something in what you have, chickens need food, water, protection from predators, protection from the elements, and a certain amount of living room. I don’t know enough your set-up to be able to answer your question. Can you keep the food dry and the water not frozen?

    When you confine them like we usually do, protection from predators and the elements becomes our responsibility. I’ve seen flocks totally free range and sleep in trees in zero degree Fahrenheit weather. They would go years in between predator attacks. But they had the freedom to choose where they would sleep to get the best protection from predators and especially from the elements. If they are confined they can’t do that.

    Living space is a lot harder. There are no magic numbers about how much space a chicken actually needs. It all depends on how we manage them. Commercial operations have techniques where they can keep them in less than 2 square feet total space for each hen. If there are roosters involved in a breeding operation they need more space. One of the techniques with a tractor to get by with less space is to move the tractor often. Exactly how often and whether or not that works for you depends on your unique situation. But if your management techniques and set-up provide food, water, protection, and space, you don’t really need anything else.
     
  5. mrwoodboat

    mrwoodboat Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks- the tractor is 4' wide and 12' long with the hen house added to the end- the run starts out 4" high and slopes upward to 5', the hen house is 4' tall at the rear and slopes up to 5' at the point where it meets up with the run. The entire run and house is roofed with sheet metal, the sides are 2"x 4" welded wire with a 10" board running around the perimeter. The hen house sits up 20" and the area underneath is open on only 1 side towards the run- the food and water are given there by a feeder tube and a 5 gal waterer with nipples.

    The roosts that I have run from side to side in the run part and they are underneath the metal roofing- I also have one under the hen house- but yes, right now, none of the birds are roosting anywhere- they just sort of pile together.

    We are planning on housing only 4 hens and maybe 1 rooster after we determine who is who- at 8wks, So we would keep a total of 5 birds in this tractor. I am just now beginning to tell who is a hen and who is a male. The nesting boxes are side by side- app 12 x 14

    We dont get much snow here in SC- maybe every 3-5 yrs and it rarely gets down to teens here, either. I have cut panels that I can attach to the sides of the run part for when it gets cold leaving the top 4" of the sides open for ventilation.
     

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