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Recommendations for a 6 hen tractor design for chilly New Hampshire?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Eddyfrost, May 9, 2011.

  1. Eddyfrost

    Eddyfrost New Egg

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    May 9, 2011
    I am a newbie looking for a cheap to build coop design for my 6 Black Australorps that can be secured against New Hampshire critters (fox, bobcat, fisher cat, racoon) and can be heated for our freezing New England winters. I am thinking of a 'tractor' to move my ladies around the yard. Maybe that's not necessary if I can move a run around the yard instead?
    Any design suggestions will be much appreciated! thanks in advance!
     
  2. harrisville chicken

    harrisville chicken Chillin' With My Peeps

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    IMHO, heating may not be necessary. A small cozy space where they can huddle together works for most people. Just make sure you have ventilation without drafts. No ventilation keeps the moisture they exhale to accumulate and leads to various ailments. Check the Predators and Pests section of this site for ideas to keep your flock safe.
     
  3. rickdigschicks

    rickdigschicks Out Of The Brooder

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    Apr 12, 2011
    Southern NH
    Last edited: May 9, 2011
  4. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

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    Ontario, Canada
    Quote:First suggestion: don't try to winter 6 hens in NH in a tractor. For one thing, it won't be a tractor that time of year -- you probably have 5+ months during which snow, then mud, will prevent you from moving it. But chiefly because it is ever so much harder on the chickens, and on the chicken-keeper, to try to winter hens in a teensy tiny thing small enough to be moveable.

    I would really suggest a decent-sized permanent coop, like a shed or a partitioned-off part of your garage, 6x10 would be a good size although you could likely "get away with" less if you had to. If you want to be able to move them around to fresh grass in the summer, consider a moveable 'day tractor' type thing, perhaps hoop-coop style, just for daytime use. It could be parked against the coop to double as a fixed run for wintertime, too.

    The problem with trying to winter them in a really tiny space (anything you'd call "snug") is severalfold:

    1) you can very easily run into social problems aka cannibalism during those long winter days when they may not want to go out much if at all

    2) it is exceptionally difficult to properly ventilate a teeny coop in very cold (like 0 F and below) temperatures, because it is just physically impossible to put enough distance between open vents and chickens to avoid having cold wind blowing on them

    3) but if you don't ventilate it properly, that many hens in that small a space make it real, real humid which tends to produce frostbite at not-really-very-cold temperatures

    4) yet if you try to heat it electrically to avoid that frostbite, there just isn't anywhere really good/safe to put a lightbulb that isn't going to be knocked by hens or burn someone's comb or catch things on fire.

    So if you can POSSIBLY avoid it, it'd really be wiser. I'm not saying that 6 hens in a teeny coop in a NH winter can't be done and have most or all survive, but it ain't pretty and it ain't ideal for ANYone.

    Good luck, have fun,

    Pat
     
  5. Sassafras

    Sassafras Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Ditto what Patandchickens said. The weather here is just too lousy for months for hens to be healthy and sane in a tractor. Some of the things I see for sale make me cringe.
     
  6. pharmchickrnmom

    pharmchickrnmom Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I live in NY and we just had one of the worst winters we have had in a while--lots of snow and cold. We have a tractor that we use for our 8 hens and they did just fine in it over the winter. We parked it for the winter with their portable run and had no problems. The temp inside was usually ten to twenty degrees warmer than outside. The vents are high enough that there was no draft on the girls when they were roosting or just hanging out inside. No humidity problems either. The door to the run was open every day except during storms and they had the option of going outside, which they usually did after I shoveled out the run. We did not heat the tractor. We did make a cookie tin water heater for their water to keep it from freezing and used an outdoor extension cord run through the top of the coop to the heater. Worked fine and the girls never bothered it. No one got frostbite, no picking or fighting issues, no health issues.

    Pat has many good points and you should give careful thought as to which way you wish to go. You can view my tractor on my byc page. It is possible to use a tractor as long as you build it big enough to give them some space and have a run accessable to them at all times. I forgot to mention that we put haybales around 3 sides of the tractor to block the wind and the girls like to be under the tractor. My dh and I move ours every day. I hope this helps.
     
  7. latebloomer

    latebloomer Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 10, 2011
    green mountain state
    Quote:i didn't see the tractor on your byc page, can you post a picture?
     
  8. Eddyfrost

    Eddyfrost New Egg

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    May 9, 2011
    Thank you for all the good advice! Much appreciated!
     
  9. pharmchickrnmom

    pharmchickrnmom Chillin' With My Peeps

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    [​IMG]
    Here is a pic of the backside of the tractor. Double doors on both ends, nest box doors are up top and two vents are on the bottom of the ends of the tractor. There are doors that close the vents. You can see the pop door through the screen. It is at the end of the tractor where the roost ends. It locks from the inside.

    [​IMG]
    This is the inside wall on the front of the tractor. You can see the vents above the roost. They have doors that can be closed.
    [​IMG]
    The is the inside opposite wall. You can see the nest boxes built into the wall.
    [​IMG]
    This is my pvc feeder that I made and it hangs on the wall. It holds 2 quarts of feed. We put everything up on the walls so the girls have plenty of floor space to move around. The walls are insulated and we put insulated panels in the roof for the winter. They will come out soon.

    I hope this helps. Let me know if you have any more questions.
     
  10. latebloomer

    latebloomer Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 10, 2011
    green mountain state
    Quote:very nice

    how many square feet is your tractor, and how many chickens live there?

    and where are you located?
     

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