my chicken tractor

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by mcostas, Aug 3, 2010.

  1. mcostas

    mcostas Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Aug 2, 2010
    I am trying to design a pen for up to 5 hens in a large suburban backyard. I couldn't find a design exactly like I wanted, but a few came close. I wanted a square coop, with attached pen. I decided having it mounted on the wheels would make it easier to move, due to them creating sort of a fulcrum. I got some large casters at harbor freight. Here is a pic of the coop with the casters mounted. The coup is 4 feet long, 3 feet wide, and 4 feet high in the front, slanting down a little in the rear.

    [​IMG]

    Here is a peek inside. My first plan was to have the nest boxes along the side, since it is longer. I revised it to having them attached to the back, which gave more room for a long roost, plus a roost that runs in front of the nest box. This view is looking into it from the front. The roofs are not attached yet. The light is from the open top of the nest box.

    [​IMG]

    Here is a view of the side of the nest box. It is built in, supported by frame members on the coup. I used some thin scrap plywood.
    [​IMG]

    And here it is with the attached run. I was worried about it either being too heavy to move, or to flimsy to move. I tried to balance strenght and weight when planning, and I'm not a carpenter. I mostly used either 1x6's, or 7/8 by 6's, ripped in half, making 1x3's, more or less. I used deck screws and carriage bolts, no nails. I also added a few braces and diagonals, a few of which are not shown here. I have diagonals on the end now for instance. The run is 8 feet long and 3 feet wide.

    [​IMG]


    My next step is the wire, some ramps, and a couple of roosts. The run will have a door in the middle, where the verticals are. There will be a high roost, on one of the door verticals, and a lower roost out towards the end.

    THe inside of the coop is treated with spar varnish. The outside is just primed now, but I'm going to put a coat of paint on it this week.

    I'm going to make a movie of me moving it this week as well, I think mounting the wheels under the coop, instead of off the end of it makes it easier to move since the bulk of the weight is right over wheels. The thing about the casters I did not expect, is the way they creep sideways on uneven ground. When I first realized this I wished I had gotten regular wheels. But the creeping isn't that bad, and I have the added advantage of setting the casters, and lifting the run while someone pushes it sideways. So I can simply shift it sideways 3 feet instead of always forward or backward 12 feet.

    I kept having to make revisions throughout the process, that's what probably took the most time. I also changed plans as needed. I made the roof out of thin cheap (non-weatherproof) plywood for lightness, attached to a frame of slats. This was easier in theory than practice, as it was hard to figure out where the frame actually was, so something could be attached to it. I was going to hinge the sides but it's so light that I'm going to let it remain as is, so I can simply lift it off as needed. I may pin those side boards to secure it against the wind.

    I am going to let the chickens out into my fenced yard, under supervision, as soon as I feel they are ready. So now all I need are some chickens!
     
  2. annie3001

    annie3001 My Girls

    Jun 11, 2009
    Ct.
    looks good!!! i am building another coop too!! actually this will be our third. ours will be similar to yours. ours is a (just incase a chicken go's broody) i want her to have the babies. and i wanted a seperate pen incase of a sick bird.

    are you painting yours? also most important! [​IMG] from connecticut!!!
    [​IMG]
     
  3. mcostas

    mcostas Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Aug 2, 2010
    Yeah, I'm painting it. I'm using some leftover external house paint, the good stuff. I used spar varnish on the inside, I was afraid the chickens might peck at paint. I've used spar varnish on birdhouses with good results.

    I forgot to mention a few other little details I'm going to add this week (besides the wire) like vent slots in the coup, and covers that open and close. There is also room for a removable tray in the coup. I want to try and find a piece of sheet metal the right diameter. I made it so it's removable from the front, instead of the back. Opps. I can still utilize it, but it won't be as easy as if I would have made it removable from the back. I might be able to revise that but I think it will be more trouble than simply crawling in the pen and doing it like that.

    I could probably build one from scratch, and correct my design flaws, quicker and easier than revising the current one. [​IMG]




    eta: The weather here is unbelieveably hot, even in a cool year, I'm concerned about my soon to be hens overheating. I have electricity out in the yard so I can set a fan up for them.
     
    Last edited: Aug 3, 2010
  4. pw_quiltworks

    pw_quiltworks One Handy Chick

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    Jan 7, 2009
    Maine
    That is really nice. It's nice and cozy. The hens will love it. I am going to get my husband to build me one similar to it. I think I will have him use pvc pipe because I am kinda old and I think it might be lighter for me. Or maybe some tent poles. I have a bunch of them. I like your building. The wheels are nice. A great idea. Thanks for sharing.
     

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