Mobile Coop project

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by KoopOnTruckin, Jun 28, 2016.

  1. KoopOnTruckin

    KoopOnTruckin Chillin' With My Peeps

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    East Orlando, FL
    I'm about to get my first batch of meat birds in 2 weeks (Dark Cornish roosters, Delawares and White Rocks straight run), chicks from Welp Hatchery. Before they get here, I'm going to have this project completed. Basically, I'm building a mobile coop that is large enough to house several ages of chicks (separated within the pen to avoid bullying), but easy enough for my chicken-sitter to move it daily when I am out of town.

    Here is the framework with wheels attached (the wheel axles are an 8' long 5/8" grounding rod, cut in half):
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    It's a 12'L x 4'W x 2.25'H shell (48 total sf), made with 2x4s and 2x3s. I'm trying to do this with as much recycled material as possible, trying to keep the cost low while still making it as efficient and effective as possible. The bottom is 12' long, and the top is only 10' long - again, trying to cut down on the weight and also give the chicks a taste of the sun once in a while. I have this divided into 3 sections, 9sf for the youngest chicks (2-8wks), 15sf for the mid-size (8-14wks), and 24sf for the oldest (14-20wks or so). You can kind of see the divisions, the large section is on the right, the smaller sections are on the left.

    I'm building the roof out of old street signs I got from my neighbor - they were removed years ago but they're plastic so it should do the trick!

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    I placed plastic signs as the ceiling, then added roll-out insulation before adding the roof. I live in FL so I don't want them to suffer from the heat. I will also keep the coop under shade trees in the summer to make it even cooler. Can't be too careful with the heat and humidity in this state ("it's not the heat... it's the humidity!").

    Then I added a door and insulated that as well.
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    The door is TERRIBLY heavy, so I'll add a pneumatic lift assist (like on SUV hatches) that hopefully will make it an easier task.

    The next task will be to add a PVC watering system with horizontal watering nipples - the plan is to make 1 watering system that will get to all 3 areas. Same with the food - you can see the hog pan I have in the center of the 3 sections. Once the watering system is complete, I will add the chicken wire to the inside to divide the 3 sections, then around the entire outside.

    I'll be out of town for a few days, then I'll complete the rest in another week or so.

    What do you all think? Any suggestions are welcome.
     
  2. KoopOnTruckin

    KoopOnTruckin Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jun 17, 2016
    East Orlando, FL
    I finally finished my "Coop Deville":

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    3 areas in total. I have chicken wire separating the 2 smaller pens, and the 2 water buckets and a fan separating the 2 sides. I imagine I could keep around 8-10 in each area, 2-8 week olds in the smallest (9 SF), 9-14 week olds in the 15 SF, and 14-20 in the largest 24 SF side.

    So far it moves easily through the yard. The wheels on the end with the smaller pens allow for less room than the wheels on the end with the single large pen, this will allow less room for the smaller chicks to crawl under.

    The food is hanging from a chain from a rafter above. I will have a hanging bucket in each pen, but they share 2 buckets of water for all 3 pens. The horizontal nipples are working already - I tapped them a bit to fill the reservoir with a drop of water, then one of the DC cockerels was the first to try it out. The rest picked it up in about 4 minutes.

    The wheel axles will double as a small perch in each pen, but I'll likely also get another dowel rod or something to give them somewhere else to sleep. I know I cheaped out on the chicken wire instead of getting hardware wire, but for now it will have to do. I will likely rewrap with hardware cloth in another few months. Maybe sooner, if I can get the funds.

    The roof is fully insulated and there is extra ventilation through the wire under the overhang. The fan will also help to keep it cool inside, I have it blowing in the direction of the larger pen, but it should cool the entire coop.
     
  3. KoopOnTruckin

    KoopOnTruckin Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jun 17, 2016
    East Orlando, FL
    As you can see, no pneumatic lift assists on the door, I couldn't figure out the instructions to determine the weight needed. Instead I just used another 2x3 on a hinge that will help keep the roof/lid up. I imagine the lid takes about 50 lbs or so of force to lift it, maybe a bit more.

    I also didn't go with the pvc pipe for the watering system, found that the fan was a needed addition and it fit almost perfectly with the 2 buckets to make a separating wall.

    Took me longer than expected to finish it, but so far it seems to be doing the trick. I will likely leave one or 2 of our dogs outside for the next few nights to make sure there are no nasty run-ins with any raccoons.

    https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/1124100/meat-bird-project-delaware-white-rock-dark-cornish
     
  4. KikisGirls

    KikisGirls Egg Grower Premium Member Project Manager

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    My Coop
    Great!
     
  5. KoopOnTruckin

    KoopOnTruckin Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jun 17, 2016
    East Orlando, FL
    The first 2 nights when very well, no issues at all. I left a gamecam out near the coop, and did see one raccoon come near the outside perimeter fence. I will put a trap up over the next few nights to catch and dispatch of them. I typically use eggs as bait, since they work and they're free, but I may switch it up a bit to ensure they go all the way into the trap and don't start thinking of my yard as a place to go for free eggs.

    The daytime was a different story - no predators to worry about, so they started looking for vulnerabilities in the design, which they found a few small ones. I watched them for a couple hours to see how they were sneaking out, it was a small crack between some inside chicken wire, they used that "tunnel" to get to the larger portion of the coop, which is a bit higher and leaves more room on the underside. I may have to lower that side as well today.

    The fan is working well, the chicks know where to get their water and the hanging feeder is doing the trick. All in all, I'm pretty happy with it.
     
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  6. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    My Coop
    I'd say the dogs will be needed 24/7 until those bird go to the freezer...slick tractor tho.
    Look forward to seeing them progress.
     
  7. KoopOnTruckin

    KoopOnTruckin Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jun 17, 2016
    East Orlando, FL
    So far no issues still, I've moved the tractor closer to the house and further from the outside perimeter fence. The dogs stayed inside last night, and I put a few eggs in a live trap outside the fence with nothing coming close to it (I have a game cam pointing towards it). It also helps that ANY noise I hear outside means the dogs come outside and that's followed by a predator light attached to my rifle. I think I'll continue to move it around my house for the next few weeks, then slowly push it out towards the fence as they get bigger.

    Also planning on an electric fence in the next 2 months or so. I'm looking forward to getting that first shock on film!

    Thank you for the props on the tractor, it's a continuing work in progress. I find a few flaws in it daily, then fix those flaws (as best I can). It will be much better when the chicks are 6 weeks+, since they won't be able to get out and will (hopefully) be smart enough to sleep away from the outer fencing. And I'll fix the hardware wire on top of the hex wire, which should strengthen the whole thing.
     
  8. KoopOnTruckin

    KoopOnTruckin Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jun 17, 2016
    East Orlando, FL
    Thought I lost 4 of my chicks due to some bad weather that eroded some of the dirt under the tractor. But then we found them all present and accounted for a few hours later. As for changes to the mobile coop, I added some extra perches (they were just using the axle rods previously, only 5/8") which are working very well. I have also stopped allowing them out to free-range - I mean, the whole point of the mobility was so they could get fresh grass and foraging area each day. And each time I open the top, the big layers want to jump in there and try out the 24% protein feed.

    All in all, it's been doing the trick. If I could do it over again, I would have made several changes, like multiple doors instead of just the big one. And I would have spent the extra money so the axle rods were longer and the wheels were on the outside - and bigger wheels. But otherwise, it's a pretty slick tractor.

    We've dubbed it the "Coop DeVille".
     
    1 person likes this.

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