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coop or tractor

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Balboaroc, Feb 3, 2009.

  1. Balboaroc

    Balboaroc Out Of The Brooder

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    Feb 2, 2009
    Carroll County, MD
    We are getting ready to get some chickens and need to know which is better, tractor or coop. We live in Maryland and have low temps in winter. I want to get advantage of free range and not have dead lawn in area where coop is. Our yard has a split rail fence with vinyl wire covering and about 2 acres.
     
  2. Master S.M.C

    Master S.M.C Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jan 23, 2009
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    Depends, do you need to move it so your chickens always have access to grass?
     
  3. Balboaroc

    Balboaroc Out Of The Brooder

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    Feb 2, 2009
    Carroll County, MD
    Lets say we have 10 chickens 8x10 coop. How large would run need to be so it wouldn't be bare and they would have access to bugs and grass without needing a tractor. We have a large garden and don't necessarily want chickens roaming entire yard. We do plan to let chickens roam when we are outside in summer and dogs are inside. I prefer a permanent coop just because of electricity and more permanent fixtures.

    I also want the advantages of free range and lower feed cost. Am I dreaming or is this possible with a very large run. If I have larger run would this accomplish my goal and not have hassles of tractor.
     
  4. Master S.M.C

    Master S.M.C Chillin' With My Peeps

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    My coop is the same size and I 12 of huge breeds, my run is 15X80. Although a 10X30 should work could be smaller based on the breeds you own.
     
  5. Balboaroc

    Balboaroc Out Of The Brooder

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    Feb 2, 2009
    Carroll County, MD
    Is your grass bare?
     
  6. Master S.M.C

    Master S.M.C Chillin' With My Peeps

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    well no it's part of the garden and the lawn next to it in the backyard.
     
  7. chookchick

    chookchick Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Aug 18, 2008
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    I am pondering kind of the same issue, would love the have the ability to free range, but too many predators.
    Nobody seems to be happy with the tractor as a permanent living situation--I would vote for a real coop and a decent secure run. Then perhaps add a large tractor. I am seriously considering the electric poultry fencing, which seems to work great with dogs, foxes, etc..but not so good for overhead predators. It makes a huge run area, and is fairly easy to move around. Apparently this is a lot more popular in the UK.
     
  8. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

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    Quote:Half an acre or so? [​IMG] Seriously, something on that order. Ask Davaroo, he always has numbers handy [​IMG]

    Chickens just really do make a mess of the ground, what with eating, scratching, digging holes, compacting the soil, and poo-poisoning the soil.

    However, they do this in a tractor too. Realize that you will be leaving a trail of *half*-bare, pooey, *somewhat* scratched and dusting-hole-d up lawn behind the tractor as it goes along. They are no no-impact IME, they just distribute the impact over a larger area.

    Also it is pretty difficult to construct a strongly predatorproof, easily winterized 10-12 chicken tractor (the ones used for broilers are not so appropriate for year-round layer use, and also may not suit your aesthetics). If you have something mechanized to pull it, and a very flat lawn, it'd be easier. Best bet would be to make the coop part and the pen part separate, so you move them individually then hook back together.

    I prefer a permanent coop just because of electricity and more permanent fixtures.

    I think there is a lot to be said for that. And you need not be depriving the chickens of bugs and green stuff to eat -- you can chuck in all sorts of garden weedings (not the few poisonous things) and over-the-hill veggies and kitchen scraps and so forth, and they will have a grand old time, *in the run*.

    I also want the advantages of free range and lower feed cost.

    If you feed them weedings and extra veggies and kitchen scraps, you will have the same lower feed costs (probably better, unless your yard is quite large) *and* won't be losing them to hawks etc like you sometimes will free-range. Oh, and if you have a garden (either flower or veggie) where you care about the details or harvest, you may discover it doesn't mix real well with free-range chickens [​IMG] (tho a fence can certainly help, esp. if the chickens have plenty of other interesting places to rummage instead)

    I am not anti-tractor, I have one myself (that's how I started) and use it and like it just fine, but especially for a flock of a dozen or so, and especially if you are concerned for lawn or aesthetics, I think a permanent coop probably on the balance has more going for it.

    Have fun either way,

    Pat​
     
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2009
  9. wren

    wren Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 27, 2007
    St Augustine, FL
    What about building 4 runs off of one building?
     

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