chicken tractor?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by ScoutGunner, Nov 23, 2010.

  1. ScoutGunner

    ScoutGunner Out Of The Brooder

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    Ok, I'm so new at this I'm not sure where the egg comes out. I saw a lot of posts about a "chicken tractor" , and I would like to know why and when you should use a chicken tractor. I am wanting to get about 4-6 laying hens to put in a suburban 100' x 180' lot with a house and workshop on it already. Any suggestions for this newbie?
     
  2. ruthless

    ruthless Chillin' With My Peeps

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  3. jaloola

    jaloola Happy Joyous & Free

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    I spent hours going over this forum and the wealth of information here. This Coop & run thread is an amazing resource. Just dive in a start reading!
    Welcome!
     
  4. ScoutGunner

    ScoutGunner Out Of The Brooder

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    Outstanding site...but i still don't know the reason for a chicken tractor. I gather I won't need one for 4 to 6 chickens so I can just push around a small cage, but why? Is it to let the droppings spread around the yard or to give the chickens more area for grazing bugs?
     
  5. johny

    johny Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I’ve always thought of the chicken tractor as a device to house chickens in summer and fall that are destined to become roasting birds. Meat birds.

    There is no reason why egg layers can’t also be raised in a tractor. But for the limited space of my back yard, a permanent coop and run for the egg laying hens makes the most sense. That leaves room for the veggies gardens, fruit trees and berries.

    I have foxes, skunks, raccoons and bears that regularly enter my backyard spring, summer and fall.
    I would feel less loss if a predator got a few juvenile meat birds rather than my main eggs layers.
    I plan on making a tractor soon. But, I have not seen any tractor design that is as secure as my coop and run.

    So if your main objective is eggs, and if predators are a big issue, go for a permanent coop and run.
     
  6. sharol

    sharol Chillin' With My Peeps

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    The advantage of a tractor that actually moves around is that you are giving the chickens new grass each time you move it. That way the grass doesn't die, it fertilizes the whole lawn, and the girls get better bugs.

    The downside is that a tractor by definition is a bit small. My 7 were pretty crowded in their Hen Hoop (the enclosed part is about 4x4) partly because it was inherently too small for 7 chickens -- about right for 3 or 4 -- and partly because they REALLY like to stretch their wings. Tractors are also heavier than you think they will be by the time you get them secured. I had to move ours with our lawn tractor. The size interferes with permanent placement in the winter when there isn't any grass.

    We ended up getting a different coop (6x8) and are just now finishing the work on the run. It was probably an expensive mistake, but it will make a wonderful grow-out coop for next spring's chicks, and it is VERY secure. After all, the permanent coop can easily house 12, and I only have 7. [​IMG]
     
  7. Gallo del Cielo

    Gallo del Cielo La Gallina Resort & Spa

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    My Coop
    Quote:A chicken tractor is portable. You can move it around so that they can scratch around on new ground every day. If you have a permanently fixed coop with a run, they will scratch the surface until every living thing is eaten or killed (well, nearly so anyway). Some people have both. I have one so I can give my girls access to new foraging areas during the day and have protection against hawks (which visit daily). I think it's harder to make a tractor as secure as a coop and mine wouldn't keep out anything that could dig under the edge. I also built it before I built my coop so that I could put my chicks out during the day. Even though my birds free-range most of the day, they still choose to spend lots of time in the tractor, which is on the other side of the yard from the coop. Hawks can't see them inside and they feel safe there. I wouldn't lock them up in it at night though. I would recommend making a secure coop, if you are able.

    O.K. I see that I'm so slow, two others have given you a good explanation.
     
  8. elmo

    elmo Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have stationary coops and runs for security, and tractors that I use in the daytime to give my flock some of the benefits of free ranging without the dangers.
     
  9. pharmchickrnmom

    pharmchickrnmom Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Scoutgunner--since you are on a lot, a tractor allows you to move your chickens around on fresh grass each day so they dont destroy it by staying on it too long. We live on an acre are have a tractor we move every day. It is an 8x4 and houses our 8 girls with room to move around comfortably. There is an attached run made out of pvc piping and a skirt that goes around the tractor. The tractor is very secure when the girls are locked and nothing short of a bear or human will be able to break in. Check out my byc page and you will see what I mean. I use the deep litter method and have no problems. The ceiling now has insulation panels in for winter and the girls have been spending the cold windy days hanging out inside. There are lots of tractor ideas out there. Building Chicken Coops for dummies is also a really good book that lays out several different coops and has great, step by step plans. I will be using one of them for my next coop. Really, it is personal preference as to having a permanent coop or tractor. Both have pros and cons. You have to decide what will work best for you.
     
  10. ScoutGunner

    ScoutGunner Out Of The Brooder

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    I thank you all for the wonderful advice. I can see that this forum has many helpful and knowledgeable folks out there. I will need you all. I haven't moved back to Louisiana yet, but I will be going soon to join my grandkids and attempt to help them get as self sufficient as I can....with your help of course. God bless all and happy Thanksgiving.
     

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