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Need coop advice

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by MeadersSteaders, Feb 25, 2015.

  1. MeadersSteaders

    MeadersSteaders In the Brooder

    May 6, 2014
    We are building a tractor coop for our next flock of full size chickens (5-6 lbs full grown). Their coop is only occupied at night to sleep. They have portable pen that they go into at daybreak, or underneath the house in rainy weather. This tractor needs to be movable, since I move it every few days. I let them free range anytime I am home, which is most of the time.

    So, in order to keep it light enough for me to move it, what is the smallest square footage for 10-12 hens? Their nesting boxes separate...I am trying to decide whether I need to just make them two different coops and split them up. I would rather not, though.

  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    I’m not exactly sure how you are planning on using this. I think you want a safe place to put the chickens when they are awake and you are not at home but that they still can forage some. You will commit to moving them from the coop and back every day of the year regardless of the weather or how sick you are. Not knowing your schedule or how often you may be away for how long, I’m guessing they may need to be in here pretty much all day. I don’t know how you are handling nesting boxes.

    I don’t know your part of the country either or what your weather may be like when they are in here. How long it takes them to strip vegetation and maybe turn it into a stinking quagmire under there will depend on the quality of your turf. How wet it is makes a big difference too. I had to move mine a lot more when the weather was wet than when it was dry.

    Another issue is how much you want them to clear the area under the tractor. Some people may not like bare spots on their lawn while it did not bother me at all. The grass grew back fairly fast after I moved it unless the weather was extremely dry but you could certainly tell where it had been for a while.

    As little as I know about your plans and conditions, I think it will be hard to build something that you can move by hand for 12 hens if you keep them confined to the area under it. If you build something just to give them shelter from the sun and weather and use electric netting to keep out ground based predators that would change things dramatically. They can really tear up the ground underneath.

    I don’t know where you are but heat in the summer is probably your biggest threat to them. They generally don’t mind rain at all but they need shade so they can find a cool place to get out of the sun. You can use fairly light weight material but even then the weight can add up quickly. If you feed them the feed needs to stay dry. You need a roof for that too. A lot of sun comes in from the sides too so you kind of need to box in at least a corner to make sure they have a shady spot. The roof does not need to be over all of it, just enough to get them out of the sun.

    The frame has to be strong enough to hold together and not distort too much when you move it. The bigger it is the heavier the material has to be.

    When I tried my tractor I had one rooster and seven hens. I built two 4x8 sections that could hook together, but mine stayed in there 24/7. One section was nests and roosts, the other where I had the feed under cover. I had to move them every two or, if it was dry, three days at most.

    Since you won’t have roosts or nests you can build lighter than I did. There are a lot of different ways you could build this. A PVC hoop house on a frame might enable you to really cut the weight down. All I can suggest is to try something and see how it suits you. Be flexible. You may be OK but you may need to do something different.

    Good luck!
  3. MeadersSteaders

    MeadersSteaders In the Brooder

    May 6, 2014
    With my current flock of seven, they are let out of their house every morning, usually their pen is open for them. They go in and out at will. Their food and water hangs in their pen under a "roof" to keep rain, snow and aerial predators out. When I am not home, the pen is closed, so they are confined to that space with constant access to their coop. The pen is separate from the coop, but connected after I move them. I move them as needed, depending on how much they ranged and how much they covered their space with waste.

    The nesting boxes are attached to the coop off to the side. There are also roosts inside their coop for sleeping. The chickens literally only spend their nights inside the coop, unless it is super cold, and then they come out to eat and drink, but go back in. That is only a handful of days per year.

    So basically, I am just asking how many square feet per bird for a coop that is almost always used only for sleeping.

    I will follow the link you posted. Thank you! :)

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