Portable Coop (not a tractor) and run rotation?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by xixstar, Oct 1, 2012.

  1. xixstar

    xixstar New Egg

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    Apr 8, 2012
    I am looking to get my chickens out of a chicken tractor that is falling apart and not well designed for year-round use and into a coop that, ideally, I could move if needed 2-3 times a year, at most. I am planning on putting the chickens in an area we plan to till up next year to expand the garden and will need to move them come planting time.

    It needs to be:
    - big enough for about 8 birds, I have 5 right now.
    - be affordable to build but not the ugliest thing ever -- I have lots of plywood available, hopefully that will cut down on the cost.
    - easy to clean out - I'm thinking deep litter method but also maybe poop boards if having wire under the roosts isn't a good option
    - full of great ventilation - photos of coops with good ventilation? I feel like always see photos of new coops that seem to have almost none.
    - easy to build for someone that struggles making things straight and even, I suck at building things, honestly and have no where level to work either.
    - offering shade is a big consideration because the high heat summers we can get -- our yard is full sun all the time - but I don't want it super heavy if I doesn't have to be.

    I'm thinking a detachable run, perhaps? Makes it easier to move. How to secure it well though? Make it a few feet tall with access to toss in scraps. I've kept the food/water in the coop area* of our tractor and thinking maybe I can do the same with a coop-run too.

    I had the crazy idea of having two parallel runs where I could have them in one side for a week or so and then switch to the other - just to give the ground a break -- but maybe I just really need to give up on the ground. I hate how they tear it up so much, but it seems to just be what chickens do.

    I also wondered, if you have lots of ventilation, how do you keep the rain out - windy blowing rain? And I have to admit that I really struggle grasping good ventilation and no drafts, I've read the articles and I still think everything I come up with would be drafty but I want to try to get it right.

    Have you seen a design that meets this? I scan through the ones posted in the coop pages but it all blurs together or some just look way too complicated too.

    *Our tractor is a giant rectangle with wheels on one end and at about 1/3 of the length there is an interior wall that divides the space a little - so 'coop are' is really just a portion of the tractor with a roof, food, water, roost bar and attached nest boxes but the ground is still the floor. Need something way more secure than what is going now.

    Ugh, I dread posting this - I've read this site for years and I'm at the point where it all just blurs together and I can't figure out what to even start on or make. But I need to get building next week.
     
  2. mickey328

    mickey328 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Welcome! We have a portable coop/run so may be able to address some of your questions. We looked through the coops here on BYC and picked one we liked. We made the floor out of 3/4 plywood, but used 1/4 for the walls...to reduce the weight. Rather than 2x4's we used 1x2's for the same reason. We put in some insulation, sandwiched between the ply in the walls because we get some pretty high temps here too, and it has really made a difference. On a hot day, you can feel the difference from outside to inside. We used white rubberized paint on the roof to help reflect the sun as well.


    [​IMG]

    Here's what we ended up with. It's 4' x 5', but could easily be made a bit bigger. The folded down door on the end facing the camera is for easy access to the nest boxes. There's another on the other end that folds up for easy clean out. The whole roof is also hinged, which makes it much easier to put the litter IN it. We have hardware cloth around the legs under it except for an opening on the left which coincides with the opening to the run.

    The run is about 9' x 9' and is made of 3/4 conduit connected with T's and has wire fencing attached with cable ties. It's light enough that it can be picked up and dragged by one person or easily lifted and carried by 2. The coop has wheelbarrow wheels on the far end so it can be lifted from this end and pushed or pulled wherever we want to move it. Since they're in the back yard and we don't want the grass destroyed, we move it every 3 or 4 days...takes about 10 mins. That way the grass is trampled but perks up again by the time we get back around to that spot.

    The run is about 20" tall...plenty enough for the girls to move around in but doesn't add excess weight or make it unsteady. We left a "flap" in each quadrant that can be lifted so we can toss in their goodies and put in their food and water. We don't keep either in the coop...we just want them to go in the coop to lay and to sleep.

    One reason you probably don't see the ventilation in pictures is that it's hidden...ours is. Well, there's the little window visible there, but the walls don't go quite all the way to the top...there's a 3 inch gap between the top of the wall and the bottom of the roof. The idea is that you want the breeze to blow through the coop but not on the chickens. Therefore, you put the ventilation up high where it will blow over their heads when they're roosting. We're planning to add some actual roof ventilation as well. We'll make a sort of second roof over the point of the existing one that's about 8 or 12 inches wide on either side of the peak. Then we'll remove about an inch or two of the existing roof on either side of the peak. When the second roof is added, it'll be an inch or so above the one that's there. That way, the breeze will get in but the rain and snow won't.

    Hope maybe this can give you some ideas :)
     
  3. xixstar

    xixstar New Egg

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    Apr 8, 2012
    Thank you for the response --- so good ventilation at the top only is enough? I kept trying to figure out how to add vents to the bottom and top and not have drafts blowing by the birds or the floor getting soaked at the same time. In a tiny space, that just didn't seem possible at all. And good point about it being a bit hidden, that could certainly be the case that I've not been able to see it.

    You have an adorable coop, btw! I like the 1x2s idea too. :)

    And how funny this is my first post since this is where I've gotten all my info for the past 5 years of chicken raising (with a little break in there after losing our first flock). Surprisingly that I haven't needed to ask anything until now - usually search answers all. But I really hate being back at the drawing board for building something new.
     
  4. Mtn Laurel

    Mtn Laurel Chillin' With My Peeps

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    My Coop
    I have a situation similar to what you're talking about. We have a good sized chicken tractor that we move around occasionally. It's too big to move around too much. We have temporary runs extending from both sides and I recently attempted the "dual-runs" to allow the ground to get some rest from the girls. Well, the girls much prefer to use BOTH runs, one in the morning and the other in the evening. I figured that was kinda' doing the same thing, at least the area was getting only half the use it was getting before. The set up reminds me of a hamster "Habitrail", the main housing in the middle with runs extending out from both sides.

    The temp runs are made from 4 ft. plastic poultry netting with movable metal stakes. We have deer netting on top to keep away hawks and to keep the girls from flying out. It's not predator proof, for sure, but gives them a modified free-range experience and keeps them close to the coop in the event of a predator. At night they're locked in tight so no worries there. We will re-configure the runs to allow them to get at fresh areas and will extend the runs into our garden after it's done for the season.

    Below is a pic of the girls in one of the temp runs with their friends that I guess they invited over for breakfast. One didn't seem to be the least bit concerned about the other!


    [​IMG]
     
  5. mickey328

    mickey328 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    You can put in other areas for ventilation as well, like our little window, so during the summer heat you can get more air flow...just make sure you can close them up during rain or cold. But essentially, if you have ventilation on two opposing walls, there's room for the air to move in one side and out the other. We keep a small thermometer inside the coop and it's been well worth the few bucks we paid for it. It lets us know if it's too hot or cold in there so we can open or close as needed.
     
  6. Mtn Laurel

    Mtn Laurel Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 18, 2012
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    My Coop
    Oh, about ventilation. My husband works for a roofing contractor so he installed a low-profile roof vent designed for a house. Works great, rain can't get inside, and certainly sufficient for a small sized coop. We also have a few small round vents on the side of the tractor near the roof line.


    [​IMG]
     
  7. mickey328

    mickey328 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    That's great, laurl! We had considered something similar, but the prices were a bit too rich for us :) We built about 97% of our coop out of materials we had on had or got free, so we basically just went with what we had.
     
  8. Mtn Laurel

    Mtn Laurel Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 18, 2012
    Northern Virginia
    My Coop
    We used one that the roofer would have thrown away. It was a "scratch 'n dent" situation but worked perfectly for our coop. Like you, we tried to use what we had on hand. Most of it was left over from a deck we built several years ago!
     
  9. mickey328

    mickey328 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I just love hearing about deals like that! I'm all about re-using, re-cycling and re-purposing! We're looking to maybe keep some meat rabbits now, so we're on the scrounge for materials for hutches.
     
  10. xixstar

    xixstar New Egg

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    Apr 8, 2012
    Looks like we're getting down to final plans and are thinking about a fixed coop location and that is changing things a little bit.

    I think we're looking at a run that is 15'x'6' and then a coop about 4'x4' in size, so I'm feel like I'm back at the drawing board again.

    Also trying to figure out just how secure of a run is needed without going overboard either. And how, if it's a fixed run, to keep the chickens from digging out from under it too. I'm half tempted to just call a friend's husband that does small jobs and seeing what having something made would cost -- the temps are dropping and I need this done yesterday.
     

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