Interesting Chicken Coop Design- - Need Your Input

JCloned

Hatching
8 Years
Feb 28, 2011
3
0
7
So I am new to not only backyardchickens...but back yard chickens as well. As I have been trolling around the internet doing research I came across a plan for a mobile chicken coop that Better Homes & Gardens mentions on their site. I like the idea of being able to move it around from the perspective of keeping the lawn in good shape, but I am new enough to this need some help with understanding if beyond that this would make a good chicken coop for me. My yard is fenced and about 120 feet by 150 feet. Any insights anyone can share? If you are not familiar with the coop you can look at it here.

bhg.com/garden-store/project-plans/chicken-coop/country-gardens-chicken-coop.html

Thanks for your help!!
 

THINGUM

Chirping
9 Years
Jan 17, 2011
116
0
89
If you'll take the time to scroll thru the many threads posted right here you'll find all the answers, and you'll be prepared to build or buy the right thing. Everything from sq. footage requirements to roost height is here, along with a lot of humor. Give up one reality show per nite or get up early on some Saturday, and YOU WILL BE SO AMAZED. I was, and in turn addicted.
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Quote; "Two things are sure: One is, this project won't just fall together. And Two is, it very well may just fall apart" ... Steve Reilly
 

MaybeMaybe

Hatching
8 Years
Jan 31, 2011
5
0
7
I love the idea of tractors. I had seriously considered it because our back yard could use the constant "work" but when I really considered my options it wouldn't work for our family. We have a 4 year old who would be magnatized to the previous plot and would surley come back inside covered in poo and two small dogs who would be sure to roll in whatever they could find. I am still hopefull we can figure something out in the future, if you don't have to worry about kids or dogs getting into where you just moved the pen from then I say go for it. The grass is great for the hens and they will in turn make better eggs and as long as you are diligent with moving the tractor your grass should benifit nicely.
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wolfandfinch

Songster
10 Years
Jan 5, 2011
473
8
161
Vancouver BC
this one seems SO small, I just can't imagine it working. I had originally planned on having a coop that I could move around (so as to fertilize my garden), but in the end I decided on having it stationery. It seemed easier, and I like how many more options it gave me in terms of construction...
 

pharmchickrnmom

Songster
9 Years
Apr 13, 2010
2,110
149
226
There are many good coops and ideas on the link at the top of the page. Some things to consider: how many chickens do you plan on keeping? Is your lawn fairly even or do you have obstacles like hills, rocks, tree roots sticking up, etc? Do you live in a warm/cold/wet/snowy area?

A chicken tractor can be a good thing if you take time to plan for what you need. For example, we have a chicken tractor that is 4x8 and houses 8 hens (4 rocks and 4 glw). It is fully insulated as we have snow half the year. It sits on wheels about 20 inches off the ground. The reason for this is that we have to move it up and down a fairly good hill from the back to the side yard. It would hit the ground in the back if were lower than this. Our ground is also very uneven so we have a floating skirt that allows us to adjust the skirt according to the terrain. The tractor is predator proof except for humans and bears. Our girls are locked in every night, no exceptions. You have a fenced yard but will also need to lock up your chickens at night to protect them from predators. We move our tractor every day or every other day. Our lawn looks better now that the girls have been mowing, debugging and fertilizing it. However, our dog does eat their poo so that is a downside. We also leave our chicken shoes downstairs when we are done walking outside. The size of your coop/tractor will be determined by the number of chickens you can/want to have. Remember this, if they are going to be locked up and/or spending time in the coop for the winter, you need enough space so no problems develop. I hope this helps.
 

elmo

Crowing
11 Years
May 23, 2009
4,907
271
336
DFW
I took a look at the link, and I'm underwhelmed. It looks miniscule, even for the one chicken inside, and you never want to keep only a single chicken (chickens are social creatures). You'll want to allow at least 4 square feet per chicken indoors (coop) plus 10 square feet per chicken outdoors (run). It's certainly much better to allow more space than this, but that gives you some idea as you're looking at plans to rule out quickly.

Ventilation is important for chickens because of their efficient respiratory systems. A good rule of thumb is to aim for 1 square foot of vent per chicken, ideally up high at the top of one or more walls so that warmer, moister air can exit and humidity doesn't build up inside your coop. The coop in the link looks inadequately ventilated (and the vents are designed so that rain could blow inside, soaking the coop bedding).

Chickens poop all night as they roost. You want a coop to be designed so it will be easy for your to remove manure from inside the coop. If a coop isn't large enough to be "walk in" look for designs where one whole wall opens up completely so you can access all of the inside areas easily. I'm not sure whether the coop in the link has only the two doors on the visible sides. If so, clean out of this model is likely to be annoying.

The other thing to consider, as others have noted, is that for a tractor you want it to be light enough to move. Unless you plan to put your tractor on wheels and/or move it with a real tractor or some other power machinery, weight is a real consideration. Plywood can be pretty heavy unless you use the really thin stuff.

One thing you can consider is building a day tractor as well as a stationary coop, which in my opinion is the best of both worlds. A stationary coop can be made as solid and secure as possible (no weight considerations). The chickens can be safe locked inside the coop at night, when predator risk is the highest. In daytime, they can enjoy grazing in the yard inside a day tractor, which is easy to build lightweight without having to build a "coop" part into its design.

Welcome to the forum! There's everything here that you could want or need to know about chickens. Browse through the coop design page and see coops that people actually use. And then you can ask questions about how the designs are working out. That's the best way to figure out what kind of coop to build, I think. There are a lot of coop plans and prefab kits being sold out there that aren't functional or practical for actually housing chickens.
 

Judy

Crowing
Premium Feather Member
10 Years
Feb 5, 2009
34,024
597
448
South Georgia
You got some good advice here. I think what you'll find is, it can be done, but only for a very few chickens. It is very easy after getting 2 or 3 to want about 12 more, at least for many on here. Tractors that are big enough to hold more than a couple often need a machine to move. I looked at your link and couldn't find dimensions. It looks a bit heavy.... Be warned that many if not most prefab coops (or plans) give a # of chickens and often aren't big enough for that number.

If you're thinking of getting around 6, you will have patches of grass and patches of... no grass. That's one thing, if a nice looking lawn is important to you, that may be in conflict with chickens. They do eat grass, lots of it, roots and all. My "chicken yard" is about half the size of your yard, and has no grass at all, only some scattered weeds that they don't like to eat. Probably the average number of chickens I've kept in there is somewhere around 15 or 20. And, I often open the chicken yard and let them wander all day.

I don't mean to discourage you; I love having my chickens, wouldn't be without them. Just throwing out a couple of thoughts.
 

patandchickens

Flock Mistress
12 Years
Apr 20, 2007
12,520
360
341
Ontario, Canada
A chicken tractor (of any sort) will not "help keep your lawn in good shape". If you move it frequently enough (potentially once or twice a day) and your grass grows well enough all year round, you can keep the impact of the tractor from being *hugely* noticeable, but no matter what, you WILL have visible chewed-and-stomped-and-scratched-down rectangles where the tractor has recently been, and you WILL have poo lying around in those places, and it does not disappear as rapidly as you might think, especially in the spring before flies have really gotten going. Also note that in many climates there are times of year when the "chickened" areas won't grow back for *months*, and/or times of year when you may not be able to move the tractor at all. (And small tractor-style coops *suck* for overwintering if you happen to live in the North)

If a Better Homes and Garden style lawn is important to you, I would still of course encourage you to get chickens
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but instead build them a PERMANENT, fixed-location coop with run. You can make it as purty (or not) and landscaped (or not) as you wish, but it will prevent the chicken issues from spreading themselves thinly all across your backyard.

If you want the chickens to be able to graze your lawn, which is certainly laudable, you might consider either supervised free-ranging if you have a well-fenced yard and some free time some afternoons, or making a 'day tractor' type pen so that you can move them around in a easy-to-build lightweight pen as lawn and whim permit, but they stay in the coop/run the rest of the time.

For whatever it's worth (possibly not much, as everyone's climate and soil and lawn are different!), when I had my 4x7'-footprint 3-chicken tractor (it had the house part up above the pen part, so total square footage was a bit bigger), I used an area of lawn that was probably 80x40', moving the tractor every day, and generally had about ten days worth of conspicuous "tractor trail" behind it, where the grass was obviously-thrashed and pooey, and some shavings from the house portion of hte tractor had spilled out. I could have moved it less than daily but then the tractored area would have been REALLY obvious and taken longer to grow back. This is on naturally-well-watered (low spot, clay) mild-summer fescue lawn which probably grows about as fast as anybody's in midsummer and faster than a lot of 'em.

Not *necessarily* trying to talk you out of tractoring chickens, just want to make sure you are realistic about how it is likely to go
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A fixed-location coop for (say) 3 chickens does not need to be a huge commitment of area, you'd want at least 4x8' of run space preferably more, and somewhere between a 3x4' coop and "however big you care to build". (Bigger indoor area is better in northern winters).

Go for it, chickens are FUN
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Good luck, have fun,

Pat
 

WoodlandWoman

Crowing
12 Years
May 8, 2007
5,717
80
283
Wisconsin
We have a large stationary coop and a small mobile chicken coop/tractor. We used the tractor as grow-out housing for a few pullets, allowing 8 square feet per chicken and moved it daily. If we didn't, the grass looked bad.

If you want to build a mobile chicken coop or tractor, I wouldn't build that particular one. It looks great and is very attractive. Unfortunately, it also looks really small, especially the run portion. It looks heavy and hard to move to me, even with one wheel to help move it. Rolling things over a lawn is a lot harder than rolling things on a hard surface, like concrete. It's also harder if the weight isn't balanced. This looks like the wheel is on one end and the handles are at the other end. You'd be lifting most of that weight, plus moving it. That's a lot harder than moving a wagon where the weight is being carried totally on the wheels or a garden cart that has most of the weight centered over a central wheel. That's a lot of wood to lift.

If you could tell us what area of the country you live in or what the weather is like where you live, plus how many chickens you want, we could probably give you some great suggestions for housing. Have you looked at the coops here that people have built, yet? At the top of the page, where it says "Coop Designs" you can click and it will take you to lots of pictures of coops, both stationary and mobile. You might find something you like there, too.

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