Coop and chicken tractor?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by forestrymom, Sep 11, 2010.

  1. forestrymom

    forestrymom Out Of The Brooder

    Sep 11, 2010
    We are going to get chickens this spring, and are trying to get prepared for it. I was thinking a medium size coop with a run for the winter time (when there is snow on the ground) with an additional chicken tractor to free range in the summer. But do I need the tractor for them to be free ranging or is the run enough? Will the tractor reduce the amount of cleaning I need to do? How big does it all need to be (like a certain square footage for each chicken?)?

    Thanks--I'm new to all this, obviously!
  2. tnchickenut

    tnchickenut It's all about the Dels!

    Jan 24, 2010
    Englewood, TN
    No matter how big you make a run on a coop... within no time it will be just dirt, and in the rainny days... mud. So, that said, yes, you would want a tractor to move them around. This way they always have fresh grass to graze and your lawn doesn't have bald spots. Moving the tractors before the grass is killed will actually help your grass as grass LOVES nitrogen, which chicken poo has plenty of! It's much healthier for the chickens too.

    When you say "medium" sized I take it you mean 6-10 chickens, am I right? You want 2-3 sq. feet per bird in the coop for the winter. The coop also needs to be ventilated but for winter no drafts. I stuff my opening with straw in the coldest days. For the tractor, you would want 3-4 sq. feet per bird..... these numbers are assuming these are standards. Bantams you just cut the number in half.

    I have built and built and built and I will tell you.... I looked at my first coop the other day and thought, "Boy, I wasted alot of money on that". I just built a tractor and only spent $70 on everything new. My first coop is less functional and less safe (preditor proof) and cost nearly $1000 and that was trying to save money.

    If you are going for "cute" you will run the bill up, but if you want functional... then you really should check out some farms like Salatin's Polyface Farm. His motto is "Good enough is perfect." and that is so true when it comes to chickens.

    I hope I helped, and didn't just confuse you more.
  3. elmo

    elmo Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 23, 2009
    Hi and welcome to the forum!

    I have two stationary coops/runs, plus two daytime tractors (pictures on my BYC page). I like the security of a stationary coop for night time, and I like the ability to move the tractors around the yard in the daytime to give fresh grass for my chickens to scratch in, plus I don't have to clean up the poop from under the tractor like I do in the runs.

    How many chickens are you planning to have? A tractor is limited somewhat in size by what can easily be dragged around the yard (unless you have a real tractor, or something like that, to hitch it to when you want to move it). I have one tractor that's 8' by 8', and one that's 12' by 6'; both are small enough and light enough for me to drag around our basically flat back yard.

    In terms of size, the usual rule of thumb you read around here is 4 square feet per chicken in the coop, plus 10 square feet per chicken in the run. I try to keep as close to the 10 square feet per chicken in the tractor as I can since I reason that's where they're spending most of their time during daylight hours when they're most active.
  4. Egglad

    Egglad Out Of The Brooder

    Jun 28, 2010
    Welcome, you are in for a great adventure. Taking a look around at the posts you will find many answers on size and square footage of a run, you will find that the more you can give the happier the birds are. We just started our flock in July of this year, we wanted to stay around 5-6 chickens, we bought 8. We built a PVC framed tractor for them with the idea that as they got older they would come out of the run. Chickens do fine in their run alone, but if they get bored, they may start pecking on each other, this could cause a lot of problems. Since the weather was nice and warm this summer we didn't have a big problem bringing the chicks out of the brooder for extended periods of time, they do get cold before their feathers come in, this helped train them to go to the tractor. You provide them good feed, some snacks, and allow them to get out and forage in the yard, they will be very happy and healthy.

    Look at the coop and run as being Fort Knox, you want them to be safe when you are not there. It should also be friendly to you so that it is not difficult to do cleaning and maintenance. The tractor should be light to move around each time so they don't tear up the lawn too much, and be able to keep them segregated from other animals (dogs, wild birds). A friend of mine learned the hard way that chickens left in a tractor and not attended to, spells disaster in no time.

    The best part is you can keep trying things to see what works best for you and your flock while the benefits come in- eggs, less bugs, natural fertilizer, lots of love and great entertainment.
  5. oldchickenlady

    oldchickenlady Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 9, 2010
    Cabot, AR
    The size you need depends on how many chickens you want. 4 square feet per standard size bird (not banty's) is the minimum in the coop and 10 square feet per bird in the run. It is all relative to how much you want to spend, how much room you have, how many chickens you want, and what kind you want. Banty size chickens are smaller, so you can have more, but their eggs are smaller. I prefer the standard size birds, and am just starting to get brown eggs from my Rhode Island Reds. I also have Buff Orpingtons but they haven't started laying yet. My run is 10'x10' (100 sq feet) and my coop is 8x8 (64 sq feet). I have 12 chickens that free range all over my property (and sometimes my nearest neighbors!) all day. They don't eat as much chicken feed that way, and keep down ticks, bugs, and frogs in my yard. They also are turning my flower bed into their own personal salad bar and dust bath area, what? I'll fix it this winter with wire so they cant dig up my flowers. Here is a pick of my run before I built the coop (moveable, but not by one person).[​IMG]
    I keep a tarp over it so it doesn't get all wet and muddy, and I can hang their feeder in there without their feed getting rained on. They stayed in this run most of the summer until I built their coop. Here is a pic of it.
    After I completed the coop I attached the run to it with a sliding pop door that I can open from outside the run. My run is completely predator proof, so I just leave the pop door open all the time. I only have to shut and lock the run gate at night. Here is pic of them together. [​IMG]
    Since you aren't planning on getting your chickens till spring, you have plenty of time to research. Read everything you can on this website. Check out all the coops on the coop page...lots of wonderful ideas there! Decide what kind of chickens you want. You can also start collecting supplies for your coop/run that you will need next spring. Check, freecycle, salvage places, or Habitat for Humanity home store for lower cost building supplies. The breed pages will give you an idea about what breeds you might want. The breed page tells how big they get, what kind of eggs, cold hardiness, personality, etc etc. Good luck, have fun, and let us know what you decide! We love chicken stories! And pictures!

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by