Newbie Questions

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by wvboy, Jan 17, 2010.

  1. wvboy

    wvboy New Egg

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    Jan 17, 2010
    Very informative site here and lots of excellent advice! Thanks all!....Here are my questions:

    I intend on starting small, maybe 5-6 birds, and leaning towards a mobile unit. The Tractors/Arks are brillant ideas and Im leaning towards that, though, I live in Vermont. Most of the designs I have seen look great but I question how they would do in the cold and snow here. Are there any good versatile designs out there that would work for me? Is it recommended to wire the bottoms with 2"x4" wire for predators and to discourage excess scratching but still allow grazing? I have seen some of the open floor designs, and within one day the birds have scratched to bare ground, that is not appealing especially if its your yard. My thoughts are this, build a solid mobile unit now and build a permanent insulated coop this summer for them to winter over. How would the chickens take to changes like that if I went that route? I figured in my area and climate, a summer coop and winter coop would be a wise choice and I could give the birds the free range that they want when the range isnt frozen? Or could I get away with a well built mobile unit that I could winterize for the winter? I appreciate all feedback..
     
  2. danielle82

    danielle82 A Good Egg

    Apr 27, 2009
    Tonasket Wa
    Hi and [​IMG]

    I pwersonally do not have a portable pen, so I don't have any first hand knowledge to give you. I do plan on getting a portable tractor type thing going for the warm months. Right now I have an insulated coop, but I plan on getting a portable thing going so I can seperate for breeding only certain ones in the summer. I plan on putting wire on the bottom, as I feel just sitting on top of the ground will not aford me the protection I want for my chickens. I know how much a dog will go through, much less a dteremined dog, to get to chickens. Right now my run is VERY dog proof. When I get my tractor it will be for an area that my dogs can't get too. I will not leave them out overnight, I plan on putting the portable pen in the garage to keep coyote or other wild animals away from them. By adopting that procedure I think I will never be sleeping in as I will want to get them outside as soon as possible. I wouldn't want them stuck in a gbuilding when they should be outside enjoying themselves. I know that dosn't really answer your questions, but that is what I'm planning on doing. Hopefully it works out the way I hope it is going to [​IMG] Have been to the chicken coop pages? I had so much fun pouring over them when I was planning my coop out!
     
  3. wvboy

    wvboy New Egg

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    Jan 17, 2010
    Thanks Danielle!

    Thats along the same lines im thinking as well. Im thinking of a simple mobile design and toying with the idea of a removable run to make transporting easier. And to answer your question, I have looked over all the coop pages over and over. There are so many innovative people out there with great ideas! I have been trying to get a game plan for my coop, as I have chicks coming soon! Its just that living where I do, and not having a barn like most of the people I know with chickens, has to make me think about what direction to go. I have almost conviced myself that I can build a "converti-coop". In my head its like a 4 season coop with removable parts to convert from summer to winter and portable and large enough to house 5 or 6 birds. But Im not sure yet..
     
  4. briteday

    briteday Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 16, 2008
    Northern NV
    I think some of the decision could be based on the acreage that you have available. If you are talking about a suburban lot I would make a stationary coop and let them free range on the lawn when you are home. If you have acres to work with and therefore can move the tractor around to fresh ground as needed for forage and cleanliness, then build a tractor. You can always leave it in one spot for the winter and throw some hay bales around the coop portion and plastic around the run to keep it warmer. Or, if you have some area but not acres (like me) we bought a used wooden shed 8 x 10, and some chain link dog run panels to make a run for the chickens. So they are stationary but free ranging in a large run.
     
  5. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

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    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    Quote:Yeah, the tractor thing always sounds like a brilliant idea -- then once you've invested in building one it often becomes clearer what their shortcomings are ;> Particularly in the North.

    I would really, really NOT recommend a tractor for 5-6 birds in Vermont if they would not be free-ranging 365 days a year. You could do it, but it would not be nearly as good for the chickens nor as easy-to-deal-with or pleasant for yourself as if you just built a regular stationary coop and run. (If they *would* be free-ranging 365 days a year, with no intention to ever keep them shut up, a moveable coop is workable but I'm still not sure how *pointful* it is in a climate where it'd only be movable for half the year)

    Several problems with wintering chickens in a tractor in the North: first, it is hard to design a 5-6 bird tractor that is easily moveable by hand yet still gives them a good amount of space per chicken, if you include a run/pen portion. Second, it is very much more difficult to winter-over chickens in a tiny enclosed space such as a tractor (or equally-small reach-in coop) when you are in a cold climate -- you get into a difficult position trying to ensure sufficient ventilation without drafts blowing at the chickens, and it is hard to engineer it so's to retain some heat but if you go wanting to add electric heat there is nowhere to safely *put* it. And third, you will not be able to move the tractor ANYhow for about 5+ months of the year because of snow and mud, meaning it will not be a tractor then and also the ground it is on will get extremely skanky and killed-off.

    Is it recommended to wire the bottoms with 2"x4" wire for predators and to discourage excess scratching but still allow grazing? I have seen some of the open floor designs, and within one day the birds have scratched to bare ground, that is not appealing especially if its your yard.

    Enh, what is the point of discouraging scratching?? That is what chickens do, that is what they are all ABOUT, it'd be like saying "I'm going to buy a cow but how do I discourage it from eating the grass in its pasture?" [​IMG] Please let your chickens scratch around. Also, if you put a wire bottom on the tractor (which I sincerely doubt would do that much to reduce damage to the lawn anyhow) it becomes much harder to move -- that way, you have to lock the chickens in the solid-floored 'house' portion, where they are bumped and bucketed around, as opposed to letting them stay loose in the pen portion and just walk along inside as yo move the tractor, like most people do.

    You just DO need to move a tractor frequently if you want to avoid lawn damage. With 5-6 chickens, you will probably want to move it daily (if not more frequently). That is just the way tractors, and chickens, ARE [​IMG]

    My thoughts are this, build a solid mobile unit now and build a permanent insulated coop this summer for them to winter over. How would the chickens take to changes like that if I went that route?

    For people who really want a tractor, but live in cold-winter climates, having a permanent stationary coop and run plus some sort of summer tractor can work very well. It is not entirely clear to me that you WANT a tractor, though, if you are concerned about your lawn... by moving a tractor daily you will prevent bare spots, and of course things will grow back after a week or two, but you will almost certainly see visible effects of tractored chickens on your lawn even if you move the tractor daily.

    Or, if I'm misunderstanding and you think you're going to free-range the chickens all day every day, a mobile coop would be ok for summertime but I'm not sure you'd get a whole lot of benefit over and above just free-ranging them out of the year-round stationary coop. Yes, the area *right* around the coop will get somewhat thrashed, but there are things you can do to minimize the impact of that (good drainage and putting down something like gravel as areas become bare). Do bear in mind that a significant number of people who show up on BYC sure they want to free-range their chickens change their minds after losing chickens to hawks and loose dogs and other predators, so it might be useful to design things so that there's an easy-to-convert 'plan B' for confining them to a run.

    Good luck, have fun,

    Pat​
     
  6. PandoraTaylor

    PandoraTaylor RT Poultry n Things

    Jun 29, 2009
    Alaska
    [​IMG] and [​IMG] from Alaska

    thanks for joining us.
     

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