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My A-frame Chicken Ark Tractor idea - help me find the problems

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by nwtim, Jun 6, 2011.

  1. nwtim

    nwtim Chillin' With My Peeps

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    After very helpful responses to the thread, First coop - will we regret something this small?, we've pretty much made up our minds to try to build something ourselves in hopes that it would best fit our situation in an economical way.

    Being on a suburban 7500 sq ft lot on the eastside of Seattle, we don't have a big back yard, but it's fully fenced and lined with chicken wire 2 feet high. The chicken wire was installed 3 years ago to keep our new puppy from escaping, but it may have some use left in it...[​IMG]

    After doing a couple hatches from friends' eggs, we've got 9 chicks that we'll be paring down to a "flock" of 3 layers - hopefully the best ones. Four of the chicks are 4 weeks old now and the other 5 were hatched in the past 24 hours.

    We're thinking that we might want to start with a portable tractor coop during the nicer weather when the lawn is growing well and the garden boxes are full of vegetables (hopefully). Meanwhile, we could build a stationary coop along the back fence within 10-15 feet of the back patio. The stationary coop could have electricity for a light on a timer and a corrugated slanted roof that collects rain water during the winter.

    Anyway, I scoured through as much material as I could find before trying to design the following A-frame tractor myself. We don't have a ton of space, so I've limited it to 6 feet in length, about 55 inches wide, and I believe it's in the neighborhood of 4 feet tall. I'm thinking about leaving a pretty good gap across the top spanned by hardware cloth and a vented peak roof that can easily be removed for greater ventilation/cooling. There's a number of things I haven't put in yet, such as the drawstring ramp, perch(es), hinged doors on the front to the nest and the right side for cleaning, or carry handles. I'm also planning on surrounding the bottom with hardware cloth and providing some kind of wind block for the bottom.

    Here's what I've come up with so far. It should end up weighing some 80-90 pounds

    Click on the thumbnail for a full-size view:
    [​IMG]

    What do you think? Will this be enough room for 3-4 hens? What are some of the concerns with this concept? Should we be looking at doing something completely different?
     
    Last edited: Jun 6, 2011
  2. Opa

    Opa Opa-wan Chickenobi

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    Last summer I decided to build an A-frame tractor for a trio of bantams. After much though I decided that if instead of bringing the side stringer to a point that it would be better if the were attached to a 1x12 thereby crating a flattopped A. That say you increas the headroom for the birds.
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jun 6, 2011
  3. bryan99705

    bryan99705 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Very nice idea. Remember that with this design check both area's for your space question. Upstairs needs 4 sq ft per bird and the run needs 10 sq ft per bird so it should be 10 X 3 footprint minimum. (But keep in mind, if you have to live in this 24/7, wouldn't a little roon extra be nice?)

    Also keep in mind that if the birds are not locked in upstairs and are on the ground while you are moving the unit, they could get run over by the end and hurt
     
    Last edited: Jun 6, 2011
  4. Oktober

    Oktober Out Of The Brooder

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    Very cool idea!

    -Okt
     
  5. nwtim

    nwtim Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:The floor on the inside is 30 inches wide, so that gives about 15 square feet of internal space including the nests. Subtracting about 4 sq ft for the nests and the hatch leaves about 11 sq ft, but it seems it would be adequate for 3 hens. As for the run below, it's currently about 27 sq ft, but we plan to let the chickens out to run the back yard on a daily basis.

    On the other hand, I'm not looking at this A-frame being their permanent home, because to be honest I'm not that eager to have to move it to a new spot every 1-2 days. At the same time, we don't want to hurt the rather small lawn (probably 25' x 40'), yet we don't want to destroy the lawn. Could we just be wasting our time (and material) with this intermediate step? Would it be better to direct our focus on the stationary coop if we view the tractor as only temporary or part time?
     
  6. lebentier

    lebentier Chillin' With My Peeps

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    i have a 5x5 a-frame ark that i use for a transition coop and it works really well for me. 3-5 birds are perfectly comfortable in it until they get to be around 13 weeks, then i integrate them into the big girl coop. i do start letting them into the big chicken yard for several hours a day when they are 8 weeks or so. even in the suburbs where i live i worry a crow might attack them when they are smaller than that.
     
  7. nwtim

    nwtim Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Opa, your coop helped me figure out how I could improve on my design. I still have the removable roof peak, but I gave it a lot larger headroom area, while keeping the base from being more than 48 inches wide. Here's what my plan looks like now.

    [​IMG]

    The panel on the right side will lift off of its hooked-in position, while a nesting box configuration will slide in the front door. I'm focusing on making it well-ventilated and easy to clean. The removable roof will function like a ridge vent when in place. I'll be installing horizontal stringers just inside the top of the long panels to stretch hardware cloth across.
     
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2011
  8. Opa

    Opa Opa-wan Chickenobi

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    Looks great glad I could help
     
  9. channel12001

    channel12001 Out Of The Brooder

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    Here's mine....looks similar to what you are trying to do....I used a full 4x8 sheet of plywood for the floor = 32 sf inside and I have 6 hens....bottom ended up being about 8x8 or 64 sf, which is great in winter and they don't want to go out into the run....let me know if you need more pictures of inside or out....[​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  10. hallerlake

    hallerlake Chillin' With My Peeps

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    [​IMG]

    This mine in Seattle. I've had it a year. I have four LF in it. Unless it's really cold, the girls only go in the coop to sleep and lay. In the winter, I stapled heavy plastic around two sides to give more shelter from the wind and rain. The girls spend a good deal of time free ranging. They seem happy with it, and if they're happy, I'm happy. I have a large yard, so if it's hot (which hasn't been much in the last year), I move it into the shade.

    Please ignore the basset hound. He's not supposed to be in there.
     
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2011

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