Too Small of a tractor?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by PacsMan, Feb 12, 2009.

  1. PacsMan

    PacsMan Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Feb 8, 2009
    Salt Lake Valley
    We’re brand new to this chicken thing, and I think I’m hooked! But, I’ve got a few concerns;

    My story…
    We bought 10 hens on the last day in January. They were 5 red sex-links and 5 Plymouth Barred. One of the red links died on the 2nd day. (from a stuck poop?)

    So the next Saturday, we went to replace it, and ended up buying 3 more (instead of 1). (They were too cute.)We now have 5 Plymouth Barred, 4 red sex-lines, 1 Buff Orph, 1 RIR, and 1 black Australorp.

    My 11 year old son and I are making a chicken tractor. Its 3’ high, and 4x10. Plus we’ll have a 4x4 nest/roost box attached to one end. During the spring/summer we’ll probably let them out in the yard for a while.

    Here’s some pics
    http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2015069&id=1410121213&l=7b92c
    (new public link)

    In the book “The Chicken Tractor” it says you could house up to 10 hens in a 4 x 10 tractor, or 20 meat chickens in the same space. (without the box attached?)

    I’m trying to build the hen house/roost part now, and I think I’ve decided on 3 (18”x18”x18”) nests and at least 2 – 4’ wide perches.

    Is this going to be enough room for 12 hens? Or do I need to get rid of 2 (or more) chickens?

    Also, I’ve read different things on perches. Metal is a no-no, but I bought an 8’ x 2” PVC pipe for them. Is PVC ok, and is 2” too big (seems to me to be…)

    Thanks!

    Marty
     
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2009
  2. chookchick

    chookchick Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Olympia WA
    [​IMG]
    Ooh boy, so you have 12 heavy layers! You are going to be shocked [​IMG] at how fast and big those girls get. A good Minimum amount of room for them is 4 sq. ft. (per bird) in the coop and 10 sq. ft. (per bird) in the run. So if you haven't gotten too far, I would seriously consider putting plywood over the ENTIRE structure that you have now for a tractor (as an interim...), and plan on building a separate run. It is almost impossible to build a tractor large enough to comfortably fit 12 layers (I am pondering this issue now). You would probably be happier with a fixed coop and run for so many birds--tractors only seem to work well for 3-4 birds. Check out the small coop section on BYC, it is great! Overbuild everything, you will not regret having extra space for the hens. Also check out predators and pests forum, so you can be sure their coop and run is predator-proof! and have fun![​IMG]
    ETA--PVC is awful slippery, I would suggest a 2 by 4
     
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2009
  3. ams3651

    ams3651 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 23, 2008
    NE PA
    you will want a board at least 2" wide for a perch, also some have used large branches that work well. I found out this winter that having a larger coop than you need is a good thing. My chickens have spent weeks on end inside because they didnt want to go out in the snow or it was cold. A large "daytime" tractor will not be hard to build later on, Im looking for a trampoline frame for one I saw mentioned on here. Go thru the posts on the coop section and you will find lots of ideas. Concentrate on the coop right now and plan extra space, your hens will be happier.

    ps, i dont have a face book account so i cant see your pics, maybe you could try uploading here.
     
  4. PacsMan

    PacsMan Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Feb 8, 2009
    Salt Lake Valley
  5. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

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    To me a 4x10 tractor is MASSIVELY too small for twelve grown hens. (My tractor is 4x7 plus a 4x2.5 'upstairs', and it fits only 3 hens in a decent way, I suppose some people might squish a fourth in but I sure wouldn't).

    You are just BEGGING for picking and cannibalism problems, IMO. (Unless this is just for them to roost in at night and they have full free range of a large area all day every day, but it doesn't sound like that's what you're talking about).

    It is going to be awwwwfully difficult to make a tractor for 12 (or even just 10) hens that are enclosed there fulltime. If you *really* want to do it, make the house and the run parts as 2 separate structures that can be moved individually then latched back together. You will still have an awful hard time giving the chickens enough room for happiness and health.

    (Also, dunno what climate you're in but it is pretty ahrd to winterize a tractor to provide adequate temperature *and* airquality *and* draftfree-ness, all three at once, in a climate that gets real winter)

    Seriously, consider a fixed coop and run. If you want to try tractoring you can still make a moveable 'day pen' for them, then tow them back to the coop for nighttime.

    Don't use PVC for a roost, it is far, far too slippery. Easiest thing is to use a 2x4, wide side up if you're somewhere that gets cold winters, or a 4-6" diameter dead tree branch with the bark peeled off.

    Good luck, have fun, welcome to BYC,

    Pat
     
  6. bigmike&nan

    bigmike&nan Chillin' With My Peeps

    All the advice is exemplary.

    You have way too many big birds. I believe the idea of adding wood to convert your current "tractor" to the coop part of a much larger structure is very good advice. ALSO you need about a 10 ft by 4 ft by 4 ft (tall) run. You need a much larger run for that many birds and they room to really stand up and flap their wings. And if your birds end up being stuck inside because of bad weather you will lose birds to pecking. We have bantam cochins and I wouldn't even put that number of bantam cochins in a rig of your size.

    Also, you will want more birds down the line. What folks say is true:

    Having chickens is like eating potato chips, you can't have just one (or 5, or 10, or 20. LOL).

    Best Of Luck and

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2009
  7. PacsMan

    PacsMan Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Feb 8, 2009
    Salt Lake Valley
    bigmike&nan :

    All the advice is exemplary.

    You have way too many big birds
    …
    Also, you will want more birds down the line. What folks say is true:
    Having chickens is like eating potato chips, you can't have just one (or 5, or 10, or 20. LOL).


    Dang, and I love potato chips!

    So, I think I probably knew this all along. *sigh*
    So, what's the ~minimum~ (read cheapest) square footage I can get by with a dozen hens? Not much scrap wood around here, so it’s Lowes or Home Depot for me.

    I like the idea of moving the birds from a coop to the tractor daily. Well, better than giving up a chicken (or 6).

    Or, I guess I could sell a couple of healthy hens at 6 or 8 weeks for more than I paid for them, right?

    And, um, pass the chips will ya… [​IMG]

    Marty​
     
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2009
  8. chookchick

    chookchick Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Aug 18, 2008
    Olympia WA
    Cute tractor! They will love that until they outgrow it...
    I bet those fuzzybutts will all soon have names if they don't allready!
    (and you're gonna sell Matilda?)
    So now that we know you two can build, you have your work cut out for you. You need a 6 by 8 coop (might as well go 8 by 8 [​IMG] and you have 4 weeks to build it. Put it down on concrete boards and you can save the lumber from floor framing.
     
  9. PacsMan

    PacsMan Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Feb 8, 2009
    Salt Lake Valley
    Quote:1. Pecker
    2. Tagert
    3. BB (black band, on leg)
    4. O'Malley (only RIR in the bunch)
    5. Midnight (the only Austrlorp)
    6. Blondie (only Buff Orphinton)
    7. Delilah
    8. Sally

    I need 4 more names, but I think that's in another Forum!

    Quote:Looks can be deceiving m'dear, very deceiving!

    Quote:I didn’t want to do this, but I think it’s probably the easiest and cheapest. We have a old tin shed with doors that are pretty banged up. It’s 10x6. (That means I can have more bird, right? Pass me those potato chips again!) I'll have to work on the doors, and it’s in an out of the way place in the back yard. But, no one can have just 12 Lays! [​IMG]

    Let's see, I’ll have to make nests (suggestions? Should I do 3, 4 or 5 for the 12 ladies?)

    A roosting ‘ladder’ with a poop catcher (ok, I forget the official name) screen at the bottom,

    electricity and a light bulb (with a timer for 14 hours of light, right?)

    and make sure it’s predator proof.

    I guess Lays can be expensive... someone asked me at work today, "So, how long before you get eggs and they pay for themselves? Um... Oh, I never thought of that. Does that mean I'm hooked?

    Marty
     
  10. backyardchickenfarmer

    backyardchickenfarmer Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jan 26, 2009
    Toms river, New jersey
    Nice tractor! if you use the tin shed, make sure you put foam board and ply would on the inside of it, metal gets damp and condensation forms causin a really damp enviorment((sp?)), wich will lead to RI.
     
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2009

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