Seeking chicken tractor advice

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by 7boysand22girls, Jun 20, 2007.

  1. 7boysand22girls

    7boysand22girls New Egg

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    Jun 20, 2007
    Hi,

    This is my first time here and I hope someone can give me some advice. I have 22- 4 1/2 week old pullets and they have been brooded in our house in a cardboard box. They are nearly completely feathered out now and my husband is working on building them a tractor out of an old trampoline frame. I am having a hard time getting it straight in my head exactly what they need in a tractor. He is attaching some wire nesting boxes along the top of the frame that someone gave us, but that is as far as we have gotten at this point. (He did weld the joints together so they won't come apart when we move it). Am I correct that they need SEPARATE roost boxes to sleep in at night? We don't plan to have a separate coop for nighttime - they will live in the tractor 24/7. Also, we are thinking about partially covering the top (where the trampoline pad used to be) to give them some sun protection since we live in the deep south and it gets really hot here. He plans to use hardware cloth for the sides instead of chicken wire since we lost 2 adult chickens this spring to a tenacious neighbor dog who tore the wire off our old tractor. Basically, we really don't know what we are doing! Can anyone give some advice? I'd also welcome some ideas for waterers/feeders - I'll still be supplementing their diet with some feed. Thank you so much for any help you can give!!!
     
  2. suburbanhomesteader

    suburbanhomesteader Chillin' With My Peeps

    You'll probably hear more from others, but these are my first thoughts:

    You'll need the cover for protection from predators as much as for shade. Also, at 4 1/2 weeks, my smallest pullet could squeeze through a 3" gap under the base of the tractor (due to a low spot in the ground). At 4 weeks, my barred rock tried mightily to get out of the 2x4 mesh; I thought he was going to tear his wings off, he was so close to coming through.

    If you want these to be layers, you HAVE to supplement with laying feed; until they start to lay, you should give starter feed, free-feeding as much as they want. There is no way they can get the nutrition they need just from your yard.

    You'll need to move the tractor every couple of days unless you want them to completely denude the ground of every blade of grass.

    They need protection from cold, wind, and rain (the food needs protection from the rain, as well).

    They don't need nest boxes until they start to lay eggs; I think that is around the 4 month mark normally.

    Little guys almost always sleep on the ground; protect them from fire ants if you have fire ants.

    As they get bigger, they will want a roost, not a roost box. I use a 2x4 sitting so that they sit on the 3 1/2" side. When they were just little guys (probably 5 weeks?), I put it just 8" off the ground, and have gradually moved it up so that they could always walk underneath it, but not much more than that. It's probably a foot off the ground right now, but last week, the last one (of 5) just started using it at night, instead of sitting on the ground to sleep.

    80% of their poop will be under the roost, once they start roosting (another reason to not have roost boxes).

    If you doubt the need for protection from predators, read about 12 posts in the "Predators and Pests" forum; it'll turn you into a believer!

    This is just a start; others will have more info, I'm sure.
     
    Last edited: Jun 21, 2007
  3. Frozen Feathers

    Frozen Feathers Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 4, 2007
    Maine
    Yes, what suburbanhomesteader said, except they won't start laying until 5 or 6 months, depending on the breed. Expect sex-links to start at 5 and everyone else to follow. So you don't need nesting boxes for a long time. 1 box for every 5 birds is a good number.
    Layer pellets aren't recommended until they are at least 20 weeks. They should get grower pellets/mash from 8-20 weeks and chick starter before that...make sure they have a source of grit, especially since they will be eating the greenery and whatever bug comes by.
    Ps...are you planning on building a coop? 22 seems like an awful big number of adult birds to have in a tractor.... you'll need a tractor to haul your tractor...
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 21, 2007

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