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Is it Necessary? Is it Desirable? Is it Adequate?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by 3KillerBs, Mar 16, 2013.

  1. 3KillerBs

    3KillerBs Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 10, 2009
    North Carolina Sandhills
    Since I can now have legal hens, ...

    If I have 4 hens (Delaware or similar breed), in a tractor is it necessary to close them into the coop portion at night or can I let them go in and out as they please? I live in the Sandhills of NC and we get HOT summers with nights that may not drop below 90 and thought they might even choose to sleep in the run if the coop were too hot.

    If the run is high enough is it desirable to have a perch in the run?

    I like the tractors that have a place to access the food and water from the top rather than having it in the coop or accessing it through the side where the birds might readily walk out while you're feeding/watering. Is it desirable to put a solid roof over that end to keep rain off the feed?

    For that matter, is a roof, rather than just wire, over the entire tractor desirable or not worth the weight? The birds would be in the shady backyard most of the time though I might put them into the garden to clean up when the squash borers kill the summer squash (predictable and unavoidable in this area). I thought I'd throw a tarp over it for shade then.

    Would that 4-foot, green wire fencing often used with t-posts in gardens be adequate to contain Delaware hens for supervised outings away from their secure tractor? I want to be able to use them for targeted weed and bug cleanup in places where I can't put the tractor. What if I topped that "playpen" setup with a tarp?

    How big a feeder would 4 hens need? How big a waterer?
  2. Time-Out

    Time-Out Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 29, 2011
    The Peak District, UK
    I'd say yes. Mine go up and down on and off their perch all day, but don't sacrifice run space to have one. If you can't have it at least 2' off the ground, I wouldn't have one. Some people have built veritable jungle gyms for their chickens, that look great. From what I hear, the chickens love it! Mine aren't quite so lucky; a perch and a tyre is all they have at the moment. [​IMG]
  3. Yardfarm Family

    Yardfarm Family Out Of The Brooder

    Feb 24, 2012
    Mchenry County, Il
    Hi, In the summer I do not shut my chickens in at night. We too can have some hot nights so I like all windows and doors open to allow air flow. Their run and coop is completely enclosed with hardware cloth so no predators can get at them. I also have a large branch wired to each side in their run that they love to sit on, in fact in the winter they perch and soak up the sun rays to get warm. I do think having some rain protection is neccesary. Rain will turn a run floor into a mud pit which is not fun so I ordered clear tarp on amazon, they had many different sizes which was nice and I have it overhang on the sides a little bit to ensure it stays dry. Also, chickens can fly high so 4ft is not going to contain them but if you throw a tarp over it they should not try to jump out. My husband built a cheap play pen with chicken wire and 1x2's thats all enclosed and it worked great for controlled outdoor time. Make sure your chickens like you because wrangling them back to the coop can be a challenge (I've trained mine to come with a shake of a treat can) Best of luck!
  4. 3KillerBs

    3KillerBs Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 10, 2009
    North Carolina Sandhills
    Any more opinions?
  5. blucoondawg

    blucoondawg Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 27, 2013
    Northern Wisconsin
    I personally wouldn't leave them out in a tractor type pen overnight, I would build the secure area to accomodate the hot weather, make it with a lot of ventilation areas covered with hardware cloth to allow some air movement. A tractor is not usually a very secure place for a chicken, it has little to no protection from predators who will dig in. I would like to use a piece of plywood or something similar for a roof on all or part of the tractor to be sure they have adequate shade all day in that kind of weather.
  6. 3KillerBs

    3KillerBs Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 10, 2009
    North Carolina Sandhills

    I'm in a town where all permanent structures (anything with the posts set in the ground or on any form of foundation), are taxed. I was thinking about an anti-digging skirt of chicken wire that would lay flat on the ground.
  7. 4 the Birds

    4 the Birds Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 15, 2010
    Westfield, Indiana
    A very BIG shed or coop can technically be a "non permanent structure". Don't add a foundation and hey.... it is moveable. [​IMG] You can use your own judgement and common sense as to how you build structures on you place and apply for building permits.

    A tractor is fine but all birds need a secure place to sleep and to go to get out of the sun, storms, predators, etc... A Roosting bar is ideal to get them off the damp or cold ground.

    More than one waterer and one feeder is ideal for the birds at the bottom of the pecking order.

    My birds free range within a 50" high fenced area. They can go over but they pretty much stay in their area.

    Hope this helps! [​IMG]
  8. 3KillerBs

    3KillerBs Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 10, 2009
    North Carolina Sandhills
    The town is very specific.

    And I need a mobile structure to do what I need the chickens to do in the way of bug and weed control because a large, fenced area is neither practical on our lot nor affordable for us.

    I'm going to try to draw up my design in Paint or Sketch-up later today and I'll post it for feedback about how well-protected the birds would be.
  9. kidsbme3

    kidsbme3 Out Of The Brooder

    Apr 17, 2009
    Forsyth County, NC
    My dad had a tractor coop for years, and we never had a problem with predators or the heat. Just park your tractor in the shad and make sure they have lots of water.
  10. Mtn Laurel

    Mtn Laurel Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 18, 2012
    Northern Virginia
    My Coop
    I used a tractor last summer for three chickens. We had several weeks of 100 degree plus weather and the nights were as bad. The girls automatically headed to the coop portion of the tractor at night. The coop portion has great ventilation but there wasn't any air moving so I just left the door to the coop open and placed a fan in the run so that it blew into the coop. They were still protected from predators via the attached run although not as secure as a closed coop would have been.

    If you have good ventilation and can find a way to keep air moving, you should be okay. I'd also freeze several gallons of water in milk jugs and put them in the tractor coop at night. You could feel the difference when you placed your hand in there, with the air moving over the ice it really helped. Doubt it would make any difference in a large coop but it did help in the smaller tractor.

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