Going into the tractor-building business

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by kristenm1975, Feb 3, 2009.

  1. kristenm1975

    kristenm1975 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 23, 2008
    Seattle, WA
    Hello all!

    I have one day off a week currently and would love to earn some extra cash doing something I love. My plan is to make use of my time and all the space I have around the property we live on and begin making A-frame chicken tractors, similar in style to the Catawba Converticoop (awesome design and amazing, personable designer, got to go check it out if you haven't).

    How much would you pay if someone in your area could build one for you and deliver it? Would you be more likely to buy if it came with three hens, nesting materials, feeder and waterer and feed?

    I'd love some feedback! I want to know if this is a lucrative business or just another hair-brained scheme. [​IMG]

    Thank you in advance!
  2. Indiana hens

    Indiana hens Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 25, 2008
    Pendleton, Indiana
    Many people around here would love to buy tractors and coops from someone who raises chickens. Same goes for metal nesting boxes. Make one and wait!
  3. kristenm1975

    kristenm1975 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 23, 2008
    Seattle, WA
    What?? No advice?! Come on chicken lovers! Help me out there, pretty please?[​IMG]
  4. sugarbush

    sugarbush Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 24, 2008
    Lexington KY
    I have built several for people. The do sell, but these are the problems I ran into.
    1. Cost of material and labor makes end price high. I own a portable sawmill so the lumber cost was about 1/4 of what it would have been if I was buying it all.

    2. Everybody wants something different so it is hard to get into a routine so you can put together quickley.

    3. Everybody wants them delivered.
  5. chookchick

    chookchick Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 18, 2008
    Olympia WA
    I'd make a nice little color flier and go to some of the hoity-toity nurseries, etc...and see if you can get some calls. Make them on a order-ahead basis, then they can customize the color. Of course first you have to figure out how much materials and labor are going to cost, off the top of my head it seems like you would have to charge quite a bit to recoup (recoop) costs. But it could be fun to introduce people to chickens. You could find someone with lots of layers, so you could provide them as an add on option.
  6. kristenm1975

    kristenm1975 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 23, 2008
    Seattle, WA
    Nice, chookchick, "recoop". [​IMG]

    I like the idea of presenting to high end nurseries. Probably farm and garden stores too, I would imagine, and maybe farmer's markets, if I wanted to give up Sundays.

    Sugarbush, yes, I see your point, and I'm challenged by the cost element of it. I plan on doing a lot of salvaging in order to cut down costs. I work in an area where there are lot of wealthy homeowners who always seem to be in the middle of a home improvement project and have stacks of unused lumber behind their house.

    The condo market is also exploding over here in the Seattle area, so there's always a construction site to check out for leftovers.

    I don't know if everyone will be thrilled at the recycled nature of the finished product, but in some cases, I think people would be happy to know that no more trees had to be cut down to make their coop.

    The delivery of the item is a problem, but I've priced out pickup rental through Uhaul, and I'll just charge for the delivery, keep the cost as low as possible, but still charge.

    I'm always amazed by how much people are willing to pay for a coop. I'd like to hook into that market!
  7. joegoatman

    joegoatman New Egg

    Feb 4, 2009
    I'm on San Juan Island, moved here from Michigan 4+ years ago.
    I've been a builder/carpenter for 40+ years.
    Your plan sounds good- I'm easing into the same type of thing.
    I have 1000's of $ in tools so I can build just about anything.
    What do you have for tools & equipment? Work area? Material storage?
    Seek out businesses that get product delivered on pallets or in crates- usually free! I find a lot of material this way.
    Many contractors will let you raid their scrap piles, BUT always ask first!
    You'll probably find that some retailers will want to know if you have product liability. If you're going at this in a big way you should check this out. Last problem you need if a customer with a sliver in their hand & a lawsuit!
    If you have questions or need advice feel free to ask!
    good luck....
  8. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    You might consider making at least some of them from salvage/scrounged materials. They'd be one-offs, and would have to be built on spec and *then* sold (rather than being built on commission, which is generally better) but if you are a good scrounger you could keep your materials costs down and as long as they were reasonably "cute" it might be a good extra hook -- one-of-a-kind, reduce/reuse/recycle [​IMG]

    Good luck,

  9. Leah-yes I know I'm crazy

    Leah-yes I know I'm crazy Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 24, 2008
    Skidway Lake, MI
    In my area this would not be a big money maker becaues those who get birds generally get 10 or more, but I can see good potential with the right marketing. It sounds like you will have to make a few demo's to start with for pics. It's good to use recycled/freecycled materials as long as in the marketing this translates to "value added" for your consumers rather than "junk found along side the road," so be honest in your wording but thoughtful about customer perceptions. Another thing you may want to concider is asking around within your circle of friends about who has a truck and also would like to make a few extra dollars on the side rather than going with rented truck. Likely, deliveries will be on Sat mornings and you may find that there are a lot of people who would like to be involved in that kind of a win/win situation. Home made feeders and waterers would be an awesome addition. Maybe even an optional light fixture.
    Because you are talking about making tractors that have the advantage of being portable one of your best marketing tools may be to look into finding places where you can park one occasionally for the day with a few hens inside to show off the functionality and hand out flyers and cards. I know that if my kids spotted something like this I would be forced into standing there for at least ten minutes while they looked. That ten minutes would be your best shot to convince me that chickens are (1) easier to take care of than dogs, (2) good for the fresh eggs, (3) benneficial for the garden. Most importantly, it would also be your chance to show me why your tractor is easier for me to get started with because your experience with what chickens need has evolved into the development of a great product at a fair price, as well as the fact that you can make it easy for them by dropping one off in one or two weeks (No having to beg husband to do anything). Also in your arsenal of info you should be up on what the chicken related laws are in your surrounding communities.
    As far as pricing goes you should compare what is already available in your area as well as the first ten google/ebay searches and stay close or under that. People are going to look there anyway so you may as well work that to your advantage by knowing who and what your competition is. Also, if you are going to use recycled materials make sure to pass that saving on to customers. Quote a price then when you go to collect your money charge a little less because you got a great deal on materials somewhere...give me a price then charge me a few dollars less and I'll talk about it for weeks.
    I hope you have really good luck with this.

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