Broody tractor design

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by chameleon, Feb 1, 2017.

  1. chameleon

    chameleon Chillin' With My Peeps

    Hey everybody. I've only been on BYC for a couple of months (although I've been lurking a little longer[​IMG]) and I'd just like to say it's been great here. My family gets annoyed when I talk too much about my chickens and I can come here any time to read about all your chickens and ask questions.

    Until now I've only been caring for rescued chicks and their mother, but before I ever rescued the chicks, I'd already been thinking of getting laying hens. Now an opportunity has come up to trade the chicks (they're all bantams) for some laying hens. My plan was to let the mom out of the coop with covered run as soon the chicks can take care of themselves because she has been living wild for at least 4 years and does not enjoy being confined. But I will feel terrible when she lays more eggs to just let them fend for themselves (all the chicks die within a day or two every time due to predators), and I won't be able to put her back in the coop once the big hens are in. She doesn't get on very well with other chickens.

    I have an idea and would love to know from all of you if I'm on the right track and any ideas for improvements or changes.

    I want to build a broody tractor that she can use to nest in and raise her chicks every time she goes broody and then rehome the chicks and possibly keep a few as pets if circumstances allow later. So far my idea is to build a wooden box attached to a small run. The box will have a pop door on the side covered by the run and on the opposite side I will be able to open it up for cleaning. The run will be a rectangular frame covered in chicken wire, the kind with very small holes. I was thinking the nest box could be 50x50cm (approximately 1.6x1.6' I think) and the run would be 50x150cm (1.6x4.9'). The entire thing will also be 1.6' high. I would put her in there whenever she goes broody and then leave her in there until the chicks are around 4 weeks old. I could also use it for my other chickens if I need to isolate any or introduce new ones at any point. As it will be a tractor I can move it every day once the eggs have hatched, I have a very big yard and garden.

    Does this sound big enough? Or is there anything you would change to make it more comfortable for her? She's a Naked Neck bantam mix of some sort, but my laying hens will be Boschveld, I think they're quite big. Although the bigger hens won't be using it unless they're ill or injured so probably won't need too much space?
     
  2. orrpeople

    orrpeople Looking for a Silver Lining Premium Member

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    If you're concerned about predidation, use hardware cloth instead of chicken wire. And kuddos to you for your commitment to this little gal! She's very lucky to have you![​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2017
  3. chameleon

    chameleon Chillin' With My Peeps

    Thanks. I was also thinking of just locking the pop door at night, could that be good enough? And does the size seem ok?
     
  4. orrpeople

    orrpeople Looking for a Silver Lining Premium Member

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    It does seem a bit small. 3' high is a standard tractor height so they can fly around a bit. If you are going to keep her in the box all night, you will probably need room to put some food, if not water - although they are not nocturnal, they definitely have a different definition of what constitutes "morning" than we do (my primary flock rooster faithfully crows at 4am all summer!) There are recommended space limits for coop design that are roughly 3 square feet per bird (metric approx 1 sq. Meter-ish) There will probably be other more experienced coop designers who will chime in here, but I always like to try to error on the side of too much space.
     
  5. chameleon

    chameleon Chillin' With My Peeps

    Ok, thanks again. I did think it might be a little low. My toddler usually wakes me up before the chickens, but better safe than sorry. I have zero experience with chickens other than the last few months with the chicks. I really appreciate all the advice. My husband won't be happy if I go filling the yard with chicken coops, otherwise I would build a second coop [​IMG] That's why I thought if I make a tractor I could make it a little smaller as whoever is in there can have fresh pasture every day, and while she's on the eggs she just gets up once a day to eat and poop and goes straight back to the nest. I'll also draw up some plans soon and add them here.
     
  6. orrpeople

    orrpeople Looking for a Silver Lining Premium Member

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    Hah, I completely understand. 3' tall really isn't all that big. I built a little grow out tractor for my 5-8 week olds that is 4' x 6' x 3' and it is currently in our car port because of all the rain we've been having. Also, I can keep a little heat lamp for really cold days. All of the sides come apart for easy storage and portability, and it is weighted down with some large granite slabs left over from a bathroom remodel to keep predators from gettibg under. And, we still have room to park the car and store all my paint etc., Here's a picture.
    [​IMG]
     
  7. chameleon

    chameleon Chillin' With My Peeps

    Thanks. You're right that doesn't look too big. I also really like the idea to be able to take the whole thing apart for storage. How many chicks fit in there comfotably?
     
  8. orrpeople

    orrpeople Looking for a Silver Lining Premium Member

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    Right now I only have 6 in there, and they have lots of room. The next group coming up is 12 (which willbe my largest group this year, I think), and they'll be fine in there too. Depending on how long they stay in there, it would comfortably fit more (usually by 8-9 weeks, depending upon the weather, their maturity, etc., mine go in the outdoor grow out pens where I separate cockerels from pullets) .
     
  9. chameleon

    chameleon Chillin' With My Peeps

    Thanks for all the feedback and bearing with me. So now I'm thinking maybe about 5'x6.6' could work for a bantam sized hen and a maximum of 12 4 week old chicks? There will usually be less though, and I won't keep them in there past 4 weeks.
     
  10. orrpeople

    orrpeople Looking for a Silver Lining Premium Member

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    That sounds good - absolute best wishes for your little flock start up! I love to talk "chicken" so any way I can help is fun for me! I ended up having a not so great day when a hawk got one of the little cockerels I had let out into my garden. Ugh. Sometimes I wish chickens werejust a little higher up on the food chain! [​IMG]
     

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