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Chicken tractor floor

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by nursepinch, Aug 2, 2011.

  1. nursepinch

    nursepinch In the Brooder

    Jun 29, 2011
    Newbie here. I'm building a chicken tractor. No hens yet - I want to be ready first. Our predators in northern Alabama include coyotes, foxes, raccoons, possoms, hawks, and owls. Maybe snakes?? I'm covering my run with 1/2" hardware cloth but I'm wondering about the floor of the run. If I cover it with hardware cloth, will the hens be able to "scratch?" That seems to be important to them from what I've read. Plus, I want them to be able to eat the grubs. If I don't cover the floor with hardware cloth but make sure the coop is locked up at night, will that provide enough protection for the hens? If I decide to cover the floor, should I use something larger like 1"X 2" wire or even chicken wire or will that just add a false sense of security. I've been looking at coops and tractors on the internet and some have wire floors and some don't.

    Also, does any one know if the eggs spoil in the heat of the day if I don't collect them by the time I have to leave for work about 6AM?

  2. spotstealer

    spotstealer Songster

    Mar 11, 2011
    Poynette, WI
    Thats what I do with m girls. I secure them in the coop nightly. I haven't had any problems as of yet. I just secure the pop door after they roost. It sounds like you are about ready for the girls. Good luck!
  3. emys

    emys Songster

    Nov 19, 2008
    You could make an apron of hardware cloth around the edges of your tractor.

    I personally have owned a tractor with hardware cloth on the bottom which we made specifically for raising baby chicks in. It worked very well and withstood a couple of known raccoon attempts at entry. When the chicks got older it got messy because the poop wouldn't fall through easily. Eventually we started using bedding in it which was OK, but defeated the purpose of a tractor...so we built them a regular coop.
  4. bertman

    bertman Songster

    May 13, 2011
    I'm a bit confused by the terminology being used here. I thought a 'tractor' was a mobile run/coop. Whereas a coop or run that is located in one spot and not designed to be moved is called a 'coop' (chicken house) or 'run' (chicken enclosure that may or may not have a coop in it).

    For what it's worth, I have both a tractor and a fixed run with coop. The tractor has hardware cloth that extends down two inches below the side boards where the cloth is attached, so it closes any gaps between the side board and the ground. If the tractor is sitting on flat ground the cloth forms a two-inch wide apron that lays flat on the ground.

    In either case, don't put wire on the ground of the tractor or run. You're right. The birds do scratch. It's a chicken thing. They can damage their feet if they are on wire. (Or so I've read on BYC).

    emys has good advice about the apron. Given the predators in your area, you definitely need an apron.

    Good luck with your project and your chicken-rearing.
  5. rhackenb

    rhackenb Hatching

    Oct 20, 2010
    The tractor coop that I just built uses half inch hardware cloth for the main floor of the coop. It is about 15 inches off the ground and most of the poop falls through. Some of it cakes together on the hardware cloth and we simply use a hoe to pull it out one of the doors. We never get much of a large build-up.

    Below the floor is the relatively small run surrounded by the same hardware cloth. The chickens get down to it via an internal ladder. Although the hardware cloth extends to the ground, I doubt if it would deter a raccoon from burrowing under it. If they did get under it, they could then climb up the ladder and do serious damage to the flock. We surround the entire coop with a 165 foot electric netting fence that is solar powered. We bought this from Premier1 (http://www.premier1supplies.com/c/fencing/electric_netting/). This fence is turned on whenever the chickens are securely locked in the coop. When one of us is around during the day, we let the chickens out to roam and the electric fence is turned off. The chickens can walk right through the netting because the holes are large enough. The purpose of the netting is to keep out predators, not to keep the chickens in.

    I have never understood how a tractor coop can use hardware cloth to keep predators out. Often people suggest that you bury the cloth 2-3 inches into the soil but then you no longer have a movable coop.

    See my coop at http://www.instructables.com/id/Large-Tractor-Coop/
  6. bertman

    bertman Songster

    May 13, 2011
    That's a nice tractor/coop combo.

    Digging in wire or laying an apron of wire are for stationary coops/runs, as you say.

    My tractor is designed for daytime use; although, before the run was finished we did keep our pullets in the tractor for several weeks. That is one reason that I have that short apron around the edges. I figured it might keep out an opportunistic intruder who wasn't very determined. I would very likely park the thing beside my bedroom window if I ever had to leave it out with chickens in it for any extended time. At least the girls would awaken me with their protests if something started trying to get into it. (Or so I hope).

    I lay cinder blocks and some steel pipe against the tractor to hold the short apron in place at night. The ground on our property is very rocky so it's hard to stake it down.

    Does your tractor actually sit on the ground when it is at rest? Or is it raised up a few inches? I couldn't tell from the pic. If the sides do sit on the ground, or even if they sit a bit off the ground, you might be able to rig up an apron that lays flat out when the tractor is parked but that can be folded up against the sides of the tractor when it's being moved. You would probably have to stake the apron down in order for it to be effective at keeping something from digging under it. From what I was told, the idea is that the critter usually starts digging right up against the side of the tractor and finds the wire in the way, so it goes elsewhere.

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