Question about small chicken tractors (2-4) hens

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by punkin, Jul 7, 2008.

  1. punkin

    punkin Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jun 18, 2008
    East Tennessee
    For those of you who use smaller chicken tractors:

    Do you use them as permanent housing?

    If you do, will they keep the hens warm enough in the winter?

    What breeds would be best suited for them?
     
  2. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

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    Ontario, Canada
    In Tennessee you might be able to get away with a tractor over the winter if you really had to. They don't work well in colder climates though. (Not to say that it hasn't been done, but it is not a great idea and does not provide high quality living conditions for the animals)

    The main problem is ventilation. You always need good ventilation, especially in winter (when it doesn't take as much moisture to make air humid). The difficulty is that tractors are such a tiny volume of air, being breathed and pooed into by the normal volume of chicken [​IMG], that a tractor actually needs MORE ventilation per cubic foot than a larger coop would. Yet, there is really nowhere for that ventilation to GO except aimed right straight at the chickens (again, because tractors are so small). Also there can be a significant conflict between ventilation and temperature.

    Summary: it can be done, and in Tennessee it might be worth trying if you have your heart set on it, but plan for winter ventilation type issues when you design your tractor, and don't be totally astonished if come springtime you decide that next year you want a permanent structure in which to winter the chickens.

    Good luck,

    Pat
     
  3. punkin

    punkin Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jun 18, 2008
    East Tennessee
    Thanks, Pat. [​IMG] I really didn't have my heart set on a tractor, just wanted to know about all the alternatives. We have a 75 sq ft run with a 4x6 coop which has 9 hens in it. They all seem to get along well and have enough room. I am expecting 2 more 14 week olds in about a month.

    Now I think I will build another coop w/close to the same interior dimensions with a middle wall for 2 different breeds and have 2 seperate runs.
     
  4. skennedy

    skennedy Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 17, 2008
    Denham Springs, LA
    Quote:WHAT!!! Need MORE Ventilation!!! [​IMG] All of MY tractors have plenty of ventilation. A lot more than any coop ever had. Open air ventilation is only one of the benefits of the chicken tractor. I don't know what tractors you have built but if yours has that little ventilation you might want to rethink the design. [​IMG]
     
  5. cajunlizz

    cajunlizz Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 27, 2008
    Lafayette, Louisiana
    Quote:WHAT!!! Need MORE Ventilation!!! [​IMG] All of MY tractors have plenty of ventilation. A lot more than any coop ever had. Open air ventilation is only one of the benefits of the chicken tractor. I don't know what tractors you have built but if yours has that little ventilation you might want to rethink the design. [​IMG]

    Would you please post a picture of your tractor if possible . Tks
     
  6. Davaroo

    Davaroo Poultry Crank

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    Feb 4, 2007
    Leesville, SC
    I use one in South Carolina, exclusively. I am a genuine backyard chickener, not a country living type.
    Wedont get quite as cold as TN, but not too far off.
    Mine does well in the winter with a bit of forethought.

    Im at work right now, so someone email me a reminder and Ill post some pics of what Im using.
     
  7. WoodlandWoman

    WoodlandWoman Overrun With Chickens

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    Tractors, like coops, can be designed in a lot of different ways. Some are almost totally open and some are very closed up. They can also be built in such a way that they are more open in the summer and more closed up in the winter. Just like coops. It just depends on how you want to use it and what will work for you in your climate.
     
  8. cajunlizz

    cajunlizz Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 27, 2008
    Lafayette, Louisiana
    I totally agree . With the amount of heat and humidity we have here in South Louisiana , we have to compensate for the summer heat and in our so called winters , deal with that when temps change .


    Our only consolation is that we do not have real bad winters like most do up north with ice and Snow . But , we do have hurricanes . So we have to totally secure our coops , runs and chickens the best we can in these super bad times if the times warrant these situations .
     
  9. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

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    Ontario, Canada
    Quote:WHAT!!! Need MORE Ventilation!!! [​IMG] All of MY tractors have plenty of ventilation. A lot more than any coop ever had. Open air ventilation is only one of the benefits of the chicken tractor. I don't know what tractors you have built but if yours has that little ventilation you might want to rethink the design.

    Er. Excuse me. Please notice I am talking about FOR WINTER here and IN COLDER CLIMATES. Obviously you can make a tractor entirely mesh, just as you can make a coop entirely mesh, but that is not going to cut it in January up north (not even January in Tennessee).

    When temps get down below freezing you need an enclosed 'house' part of the shelter, and that will need ventilation, and in a tractor-sized little 'house' there is just nowhere for the ventilation to GO except aimed right *at* the chickens, which is a problem in bitterly cold weather. Plus there's whole heat-balance conflict issue.

    I do not have any ventilation problems with MY tractor, thank you very much, it is designed appropriately for my climate. We seldom have summer days above 88F or summer nights above 70F, and are in a breezy location (and I put the tractor in shady places during hot weather). In a hotter climate obviously I would have more ventilation. Actually if I were to rebuild it I would put the existing ventilation in slightly different locations, but still, it stays plenty cool and airy all summer. You can see it at https://www.backyardchickens.com/web/viewblog.php?id=1642-tractor

    We
    were originally discussing eastern Tennessee. I still feel that this area is sort of on the border of where it makes sense to try to winter chickens in a tractor (and mind, I have lived in NC and southern OH, so I am not a total dimwit about eastern north american conditions).

    Pat
     
  10. punkin

    punkin Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jun 18, 2008
    East Tennessee
    Pat,

    That's a great looking tractor [​IMG]

    One thing I didn't think about is the lack of shade I have in the summer. The coop we have now has 2/3 of the run covered. Adding adequate shade on the tractor run would probably make it too heavy.

    Thanks for the info!!
     

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