Recommendation on tractor style for colder climate

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by rw1647, Apr 28, 2009.

  1. rw1647

    rw1647 Out Of The Brooder

    Mar 10, 2009
    Bremerton, WA
    Next week I will be receiving my first 5 chicks. I had intended to get their coop started earlier but I've been having trouble weighing the pros and cons of the various designs. We plan on tractoring them, as we are in an urban area and can't free-range, but are concerned about winter weather. We are in central NY so have a pretty good range of temperatures with very cold and snowy winters. All the breeds we purchased are supposedly cold-hardy (buff orps, EEs, Delawares and Black australorps), but I'm worried we'll end up with full grown chickens in our bathroom in the middle of winter! With what designs/styles of tractors have those of you in colder climates had good results? Or any recommendations on sites/books that have good information about building a cold-weather friendly tractor? We've really got to get going on getting a home built for the girls so any help would be greatly appreciated.
  2. CityChook

    CityChook Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 9, 2008
    Minneapolis, MN
    My Coop
    First, [​IMG] from MN!

    You have chosen some nice, cold-hardy birds that will do well in your location. I have Buff Orps and they are wonderful, big bootie ladies. My opinion, and it's just *my* opinion, is that a tractor might be too small for your needs. Particularly where free ranging won't be an option for you. The footprint of your coop will need to be at least 4x5, and probably bigger if you plan on insulating. That will probably make it awfully heavy to move around. Your run will need to be sizable if they are going to spend all their time there.

    Maybe consider a playhouse style coop, but expanded? I think that's a really great design for urban backyards.

    I recommend looking around the coop design page and then spending a couple hours going over posts in this section. There is so much good information here, you just have to go and find it. The search function in the blue bar above will become your best friend.

    Good luck and have fun!
  3. AtRendeAcres

    AtRendeAcres Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 23, 2007
    Clarion County
    Yes the playhouse style would be a great option! You could move when you want & when it snows you can through tarp over & they still have space in run!

  4. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    Quite honestly, tractors and similarly small-sized reach-in coops are just not a great thing for Real Winter climates. You *can* winter chickens in them, but it will not be especially pleasant for anyone nor work nearly as well as if you had a proper sized coop. First, because access will be unpleasant with you not being able to go indoors with them to do daily care. But more importantly, secondly, it is just really hard to balance ventilation, temperature and non-draftiness in a small-volume coop. Your ventilation needs are actually greater per cubic foot than in a walk-in coop, yet incoming air will cool the coop proportionately more *and* it can be real hard to arrange it so your ventilation is not blowing right AT the chickens i.e. draft/chill/frostbite.

    So if there is ANY way to arrange having permanent, walk-in type quarters for the winter, it would be very much desirable. Part of an existing shed, corner of garage, lean-to off garage, sort of thing? YOu could still build a summer tractor if you want.

    Even for summer use btw a 5-hen tractor will either be pretty cramped, or pretty huge/heavy/awkward.

    Good luck, have fun,

  5. mygor

    mygor Out Of The Brooder

    Mar 2, 2009
    Mount Perry , Ohio
    No matter what design you end up with I have an Idea for you. When I first started with chickens about 8 years ago. My problem in the winter was the water freezing. I looked at many of the heaters. Most were 40.00 to 60.00 each. Since I separate my birds into breeding pairs and trios. I have several tractors. My solution not only keeps the water from freezing, but provides a heat source for the coop. The best part is you can make one for less than 20.00. I use a 40 watt light bulb as the heat source. It works fine most of the winter here in Ohio. You could use a higher wattage bulb if necessary.

    I saw that the 60.00 dollar heater was made from a 16" round 5" deep feed pan that you can get at most feed stores. So I bought a feed pan and made my own. With a few lamp parts from Lowes, A coffee can, a part of an old extension cord, and a can of spray foam. If your interested send me a PM and I will take some pictures of it and post them here.
  6. rw1647

    rw1647 Out Of The Brooder

    Mar 10, 2009
    Bremerton, WA
    I'm going to have to really evaluate our yard and see what the best location and style would be for a stationary or at least semi-stationary coop. We were originally thinking a tractor because we are not planning on staying in this house for more than 2-3 more years and so were looking for a more temporary option, but I understand what everyone is saying about winter access and all that. I'm thinking we'll maybe make a more temporary tractor style run for the time being and then work on a permanent coop to be ready before winter, as I'm not thinking we'll have time to get a full coop built before the girls will need to be outside. Off to look at coop designs...

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