Possible to Build Predator-Proof Chicken Tractor?

Scifisarah

Songster
10 Years
May 1, 2009
813
35
158
Rockford MI
My Coop
My Coop
I would like to build several predator-proof chicken tractors to house maybe 3-6 bantam cochins each. The predators I'd like to keep out are raccoons, foxes and dogs. Looking for tips on how to build such a thing, if it is even possible. I'd like to be able to go on vacation over the weekend and return with all my chickens intact without closing them up every night. I realize something stronger than chicken wire would be necessary - what type and gauge of wire would you recommend. I assume a double layer is a must. How far apart should the two layers be? How could I make the bottom edge impenetrable? If you have a link to a tractor that you consider predator-proof, I would love you to share it here.
 

HandsomeRyan

Renaissance man
6 Years
Feb 18, 2013
147
21
98
Music City, USA
I think you could use expanded metal which is rigid enough to be bent out into sort of an apron around the perimeter as well as covering the run area. It would be sort of pricey but if a predator gets through that you have bigger problems than dead chickens.
 

HandsomeRyan

Renaissance man
6 Years
Feb 18, 2013
147
21
98
Music City, USA
Another idea would be to cover the entire "floor" of the tractor with some sort of steel mesh (expanded metal or otherwise) which would allow the grass to poke through but keep even digging predators out.
 

Stumpy

Songster
11 Years
Apr 15, 2008
1,960
66
211
Hardware cloth is the best wire because the openings are 1/2" square and there is no need for a double layer. I found the best deal on it at www.wayfair.com. I don't know how to make anything predator proof without burying the wire or at least having a wire apron, which would make a tractor immovable. Also, you can't just staple the wire with a mechanical stapler or tacker. I used a pneumatic stapler with long staples.
 

Scifisarah

Songster
10 Years
May 1, 2009
813
35
158
Rockford MI
My Coop
My Coop
I like the idea of the expanded metal but the price might be daunting like you said. Where would I find such a thing locally? Lowe's has a 24"x12" piece for $10 but nothing bigger, yikes.

I was looking at re-mesh for the bottom, but I worry that might have gaps that are too large, and I'm not sure if it would rust or not.
 

Scifisarah

Songster
10 Years
May 1, 2009
813
35
158
Rockford MI
My Coop
My Coop
Hardware cloth is the best wire because the openings are 1/2" square and there is no need for a double layer. I found the best deal on it at www.wayfair.com. I don't know how to make anything predator proof without burying the wire or at least having a wire apron, which would make a tractor immovable. Also, you can't just staple the wire with a mechanical stapler or tacker. I used a pneumatic stapler with long staples.
So they can't be grabbed through a single layer of this, and 1/2" is okay, I don't need 1/4"? That is GREAT pricing. It would cost $180 if I got it locally at Menards. I lost a few silkies last year through chicken wire and it was not pleasant. Not something I want to go through again.

I got my husband an air compressor last Christmas, so maybe I'll look for a good tool for him to do this.
 

Stumpy

Songster
11 Years
Apr 15, 2008
1,960
66
211
I checked local prices and Wayfair was half of that. I built my run, which is really a building with wire walls, with 1/2" wire and I have never had even a sign of a tiny mouse getting through it, much less any kind of predator. I live in the middle of the woods with lots of snakes, etc. They can't be grabbed through this. The problem with putting wire all across the bottom of the tractor is it can be hard on their feet and they can't do the most natural thing in the world for them, scratch in the dirt.

You might also search for a thread I've seen here -- I think it's called something like "best price for hardware cloth" or something. Sometimes there are specials, like free shipping. When I ordered from Wayfair, it arrived in just a few days.

This is the stapler I have. I bought it at Home Depot. It may take a few "test-firings" to get the pressure right so that the staple doesn't actually cut through the wire. This is regulated by both the air compressor and the depth dial on the stapler.

http://www.homedepot.com/p/RIDGID-1...Finish-Stapler-R150FSA/100348529#.UX_EbLWcf0c
 
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Scifisarah

Songster
10 Years
May 1, 2009
813
35
158
Rockford MI
My Coop
My Coop
Thanks for the info on the stapler. I was looking at the ones on Amazon and had no idea what width or length would work best.

I decided to make the tractors 3'x5' with the run area 2' high under the coop. That should give me plenty of room whether I want to use it for a trio, or growing out some birds. I did have one thought - should 2' tall be enough for my bantam cochins to mate successfully? I know I would not be happy about it if my head was hitting the ceiling haha.

I was thinking of putting fencing like this on the bottom to keep out digging predators: http://www.menards.com/main/buildin...x-50-green-vinyl-fencing/p-1356818-c-5770.htm I have heard the vinyl coated is better for feather footed breeds.

Otherwise I may just ditch the idea of putting fencing over the bottom, and when I am gone for vacation, use tent stakes to anchor 12 inch strips of fencing around the outside edges to keep diggers out. I'm a stay at home mom and have a collie dog, so it isn't like I need to worry much unless I am gone for some time. We've never had anything try to dig under our current tractor or coop in the 7-8 years I've had chickens. I am just worried more now that I have expensive birds I guess.
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