Predator Safe AND Mobile??

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by DuckyDoodles, Mar 14, 2018.

  1. DuckyDoodles

    DuckyDoodles No Idea What The Duck I’m Doing ;)

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    Hello all; I’ve been cruising the coop designs thread for a bit now and I’m still not entirely certain I’ve figured out the answer?

    I’m close to starting my coop for what will be 8 large breed ducks (2 Pekin, 4 Swedish and 2 Cayugas) and ideally I would like to make the coop a ‘tractor’ style abide where it can be moved around the yard/they have access to earth ground.

    But with an 8x8 wooden coop (slanted roof with wood and plastic roofing materials) I’m not 100% certain it would be feasibly Mobile to begin with. I’m reluctant to try and build it just to find out; at least I can alter plans before beginning build if needed.

    I know nighttime predation of ducks is a factor and so I’ve already bought the supplies to build a raised wooden floor and can put wiring under it for added protection.

    I’m at a fork in the road where I would love to have a secure coop but also give the girls some earth as well.

    Is it even possible?
     
  2. cavemanrich

    cavemanrich Crossing the Road

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    It is possible. A lot of my responses are about coops. I'm not good at other things like Genetics, so I avoid those threads. Coops I can usually help peeps out.
    This is what my imagination is going thru my mind. Of course if I was standing with you in your yard holding a cup of Joe, and having a conversation, things may sound different.
    Consider doing this. Make your structure 8 x 8 ,,,,,, 4 feet high. No floor since you want it movable and grass on bottom. Cover the roof part with something like chain link fencing. It will be predator proof. On top or that install a raise roof about 6 inches above from fiberglass panels. This way coop will be weather protected, and vented to ideal conditions. Remember that ducks sleep on the ground, rather than roost bars.
    Install a door in one of the sides for you to crawl into. If to must have a walk in ,them make sides higher. (becomes heavier also)
    Purchase 4 pneumatic tires like the kind for a wheel barrow, and install on the 4 corners. It is not very hard to make wheels raise or lower . If you are ready to do such I can give further ideas, explanations. Once you move to new location, set back on the ground.
    Give this some thought and ask anything else you need to.
    WISHING YOU BEST.... and :welcome
     
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  3. DuckyDoodles

    DuckyDoodles No Idea What The Duck I’m Doing ;)

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    @cavemanrich its so wild that you actually described the plans I’m using. That’s wild.

    Yeah I’m doing 8x8x5 (I believe... I showed a pic I am using for inspiration to a relative and he helped me pick out the wood). Logic being that the thing wouldn’t be so short that we’d have to crawl in it to clean it. There will be a hinged door for us and a smaller more size appropriate door for them (sliding up/down or hinged... TBD).

    Preferably I would like to have them have grassy bottom of coop because I think it would give them something to ‘do’ for the 12 hours they’d be in there. But then I think “it won’t be Predator proof from animals that dig,” or, logistically, the fact that grass wouldn’t be available year round anyways (I live in Indiana with crappy cold, snowy winters) and that maybe it’s not worth it?

    I have a run for them to be in during the day. I have 6 acres which includes two ponds that they can roam on (once trained) and so they wouldn’t be bound to only the grass in the coop.

    I’m thinking any sort of predator proofing the bottom gets in way of wiring would probably make it uncomfortable on their feeties or negate the benefit of grass.

    I’m just torn on if it can be done/whether I should. Gah!
     
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  4. cavemanrich

    cavemanrich Crossing the Road

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    What digging predators are you mostly concerned about. Coyote and fox? Raccoons usually do not dig unless there is a buried carcass.
     
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  5. squadleader

    squadleader Chirping

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    Yeah, you're right, you don't want wire on the floor of a chicken tractor. It's no problem though, there's a much easier solution, an anti-dig mat or skirt that extends out from the tractor two or three feet.

    My tractor is 8 feet by 16 feet and I drag it with a chain, 8 feet a week, which leaves the poop behind, and puts the tractor on fresh grass.

    2018-02-03 14.19.32.jpg My mat is a little wider, 50 inches. The mat works very well, I also recently discovered I don't even have to take the cinder blocks off the mat to drag it every week.
     
  6. DuckyDoodles

    DuckyDoodles No Idea What The Duck I’m Doing ;)

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    Pretty much on the nose: I’d heard that foxes and coyotes will dig under something to get to treats. I’ve heard raccoons and foxes (if unable to fully reach their intended meal) will stick their hands through the holes and grab them out piece by piece (morbid!)

    But you think the raccoons wouldn’t really mess with them? That’s at least one less concern. I have all the typical country predators of snakes, raccoons, hawks, coyotes, foxes and opossums.

    I’ve got a trap set up for a muskrat family that have made my large pond their home. They’ve done such damage that my pond levels have lowered... so I’m trying to trap them and so far I’ve only caught 1 opossum. Poor thing was terrified and we let him/her free but not without me telling it to remember my generosity and to leave my duckies alone (I’m a dweeb I know).
     
  7. DuckyDoodles

    DuckyDoodles No Idea What The Duck I’m Doing ;)

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    And the digging perps wouldn’t dig that far to get them, right? You said yours is a little wider, what would be the minimum effective length of surrounding netting? Is that just hardware cloth (didn’t look like chicken wire) or is it something different?

    I wouldn’t be able to take our truck back there (lol SUV’s unite, I’ve got a Yukon) because of the trees and ponds or whatever but I’m thinking (hoping) that hubs and I can move it together if singularly I can’t move it. But I really like the tractor idea as opposed to permanent structure and yours has, so far, been the best idea to have both :)
     
  8. squadleader

    squadleader Chirping

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    Tractors are the easiest, but there must be an easy way to move it.

    My tractor's in an open field, like you say, if there are too many obstructions, and you can't maneuver the tractor vehicle combination, you're going to have to go with a smaller lighter tractor. Mine probably weighs over three thousand pounds.

    You mention a pond, if the reason you can't get back there is wet ground, you don't want to house chickens on wet ground if you can help it.

    I always seem to overbuild build things, so mine is way heavier, and the mat much wider than others would build.

    My mat is a cattle fence panel with half inch hardware cloth zip tied on top of the cattle panel.

    Some members here have indicated their mats are only 24 inches which seems to work for them. Some also recommend 1 inch by 2 inch welded wire, which is thicker wire than half inch hardware cloth, and may last longer than hardware cloth before rusting out in ground contact. That's with ground contact, stay with half inch hardware cloth on the hoop itself.

    If you can't use a vehicle or some kind of tractor to pull the chicken tractor, you're going to need to look for a chicken tractor light enough to be moved by hand, or switch to a permanent coop and run, then hopefully being able to add free ranging.

    Even though I have a tractor, which allows me the option of never releasing the birds because it is a tractor, instead I've embraced free ranging the birds and they're out all day, unless there's snow or 30 mile an hour winds.

    A hoop coop does make a great permanent run/coop if you end up going that way. You'd just have to learn about poop management, perhaps the easiest is the deep litter method I've seen mentioned a lot here.

    If you build a predator-proof hoop coop, it eliminates the need for a wooden coop, freeing up the time and money you'd have spent on the wooden coop, to use making the hoop coop predator proof. The chickens would never need to be locked in a little wooden box like most chickens are, because you'd have them living in a predator proof run, which is a far superior habitat.

    We're so used to thinking about chicken coops, that most people don't realize they only exist because the birds don't have a covered predator proof run. A hoop coop makes accomplishing that task easy. If you have that, the birds roost in the secure covered run, with lots of room and fresh air, not locked in a box.

    Orientation of the coop or tractor is also very important (open end facing south), and sealing off openings on the north, east, and west sides during winter, unless you're somewhere with mild weather, like Florida, Texas, or Southern California.

    The thread below covers all these issues in detail. These issues are very important if you want your tractor or coop to be comfortable for your birds.

    https://www.backyardchickens.com/threads/building-a-coop-and-run.1226280/
     
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2018
    TCCL and New2DuckyDoodles like this.
  9. jreardon1918

    jreardon1918 Songster

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    My Coop
    If you can't get a truck to the tractor , you could probably add wheeles that can be raised and lowered. I think I have seen designs like that. Or you could roll the tractor. use long rollers. 10' wooden fence posts would work. Search youtube for move a shed across the yard. The videos show trucks pulling, but for a 8x8 hoop coop, I think a couple people could push it. It took me 4 guys to move my shed 100' up a slight incline.
     
    New2DuckyDoodles likes this.
  10. DuckyDoodles

    DuckyDoodles No Idea What The Duck I’m Doing ;)

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    Yeah we were going to put wheels on it that can be moved for when the coop isn’t being rolled somewhere.

    As for not being able to reach it with the truck it is solely based on the layout of the property. We have a John Deere gator that we use for things but I was hoping we wouldn’t have to resort to pulling it with ‘heavy artillery’ (lol).

    But, like you mentioned yours is pretty heavy, I have no clue how much this one will weigh and seeing as how I had to haul everything with a trailer I guess it’d be about right.

    But! The dimensions/materials on the surrounding ground netting were definitely helpful too!
     

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