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The "Tractor" and Predators

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Soilarch, Apr 22, 2016.

  1. Soilarch

    Soilarch New Egg

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    Apr 15, 2016
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    New here, and I have my head swimming in coop designs. I keep coming back to a ground-zero question. I'd like to have a mobile run/coop. The buzz word right now is "chicken-tractor". Are these inherently weak in predator protection. I can leave sharp clipped-end wire mesh around the bottom perimiter but burying wire and having a completelt flat spot in the yard is going to happen with a mobile design. Do I need to give up on mobile design? I notice they aren't real popular here and can't help but wonder if this is why.

    We got a mix of 9 chicks from the local RK/TSC store (layers). We live on 1acre just outside a very rural town. 60x30 garden, no dogs that are "regulars" but an occasional guest. Hawks have made a comeback that last 10 years. Coyotes have a healthy population in So. IL but I've not noticed many here and I attribute that to the dog boarding kennel 1/4mile away. Haven't noticed foxes/raccoons/possum this far from any woods, but I know they're around. (No trash raiding yet, been here a year.)

    I'd rather not make a permanent structure but don't want to waste time/material and half my flock on making a "tractor".
    Tablesaw/Miter/Router/Nailgun...not really limited by "handiness".

    Abandon the tractor idea? If not, any suggestions? There's 1,000 designs/ideas and some are obviously more geared towards aesthetics than practicality.
     
  2. 1muttsfan

    1muttsfan Overrun With Chickens

    the biggest problem with a tractor for most folks is that they are not big enough to handle the number of birds they want to house. In general you should supply 4 square feet of floor space in the coop, and 10 square feet of run, for each bird. That means a 36 square foot coop and 90 square foot run for 9 birds - which is very hard to do with a tractor. Permanent coops can also be made more secure against predators. While some people supply less space for their birds, crowding can be both a health and a quality of life issue.

    And welcome to BYC [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2016
  3. mobius

    mobius Chillin' With My Peeps

    [​IMG]I would say many people do both. I have massive predator problems and a small fenced yard area, so mine free range under supervision in the fenced area (they are outside right now! and I can hear/see them, and observe the yard). I have a permanent chicken coop/run.

    Saw that a fellow on youtube (SSLFamilyDad) designed and built a permanent coop with a detachable chicken run/tractor, which I thought was genius. And he shows exactly how to do it. That would be the ultimate for folks with a large area IMHO. I could not use a chicken tractor by itself...but everyone's situation is quite different...

    Found it:

    He has a series of videos...you could increase the area of any of the structures as needed...

    I would not do the tray or the watering system...there are easier ways, lol. Also add lots of ventilation/windows....

    90 square foot run and a 36 square foot coop minimum, bigger if you fall prey to "chicken math": the act of adding more chickens...
     
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2016
  4. Howard E

    Howard E Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Feb 18, 2016
    Missouri
    I may not be entirely right with this, but in general, the tractor concept takes into account the fact that a large number of birds in a small confined area will quickly consume and totally trash the ground beneath them. Think mud hole. So you move them around.....grazing new grass/pasture and often moving them daily. A tractor is easy to move by hand. Generally, it will not be Fort Knox. In a tractor, a flock of birds work like a plague of locusts....graze it and move on. The greens and bugs they consume are a planned for part of their daily food ration.

    Then there is moveable, which is what I'm building. An secure 8' x 12' house on skids. While it can be moved around, it typically won't be more than once or twice a year. I plan to take advantage of the birds to let them work over/enhance my garden areas, then move them to new ground to do the same thing, utilizing electric fencing to confine and protect them while they are out in the open. They will trash it under controlled conditions, which I'm counting on.

    If you have the room, and want to move them around with a fixed house, that is what electric poultry netting is for. It can easily be moved and expanded to almost any shape or area you want it to be, but at all times, they are free to return to the protection and shelter of their house. With acreage, you have that option up to and including your whole acre......if you want to pop for and maintain that much fencing.

    A lot of small backyard coops are just that. Small and intended to confine a small backyard flock (think no more than 2 to 4 birds) with no real intent of allowing them to roam too far and still working to deal with the droppings and soiled litter that even a couple birds create.
     
  5. Soilarch

    Soilarch New Egg

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    Apr 15, 2016
    So. IL
    Howard E. You're correct that the idea is to rotate the ground the chickens are on. Amd being able to move them arround my garden plot in the late fall and early spring is one of the attractions. No mud holes though, let them eat it down, then move before it's bare. Depending on population density that may mean daily.

    I was way off base of space requirement, I thought the 4sqft was for the run. Even if I squeeze it down to 3sqft I'm looking at two "tractors" instead of one! [​IMG]
    This seems like the most feasible concept. Mine would be uglier and made of scraps, and it looks like a 4-bird capacity at 4sqft/bird.
     
  6. FlyWheel

    FlyWheel Chillin' With My Peeps Premium Member

    How about this? Make a mobile coop that is large enough to carry all your birds, one that can be 'attached' to the main coop or run. That way you can keep the birds in a home base, and herd them into the tractor to take them to various foraging areas. Add collapsible fencing or a tent like area that can be erected before letting them out to roam within this protected area.

    Obviously it wouldn't be as predator proof as a ridged structure, but so long as you can monitor them (and run out if anything threatens them) I would think they should be safe enough.
     
  7. 1muttsfan

    1muttsfan Overrun With Chickens

    It can be tempting to try to squeeze birds into an area that is not quite sufficient. If you were going to supply less than 4 feet per bird, it should be with access to generous run space - not a small area like the tractor you have pictured.
     
  8. limited25

    limited25 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mar 10, 2016
    Oklahoma
    [​IMG]


    This is our chicken tractor, which my husband built. It has two runs that have an entry way and slide in and out of the coop, which are also quite secure. The bare area on the ground in front of the coop is where the coop sat for six months (Oct - Apr). We have sandy soil and gave them a bail of hay in each run. It kept the ground pretty clean and we raked the straw out a week ago and put it in our compost pile. The grass is already starting to grow back. We have a small tractor that we pull the coop to it's new location, and can move the runs ourselves.

    This coop is 4'x5' and holds 5 chickens, which is what we wanted. Each run is 5x10. We probably move the coop every 3 weeks to a month once the grass actually starts growing in and have never lost any grass doing it this way. We like it and are glad we made it the way we did.

    Anyway, just a suggestion for you, since you asked.
     
  9. limited25

    limited25 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mar 10, 2016
    Oklahoma
    Also, [​IMG]

    In my last post I said that each run is 5x10, which is wrong. Each run is 8'x10'.
     
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2016
  10. 1muttsfan

    1muttsfan Overrun With Chickens

    Nice coop
     

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