tractor during the day and coop at night?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by sovia, Oct 29, 2008.

  1. sovia

    sovia Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mar 4, 2008
    Black Hills of SD
    We live in an area with just about every predator you can think of - mountain lions, wolves, coyotes, hawks & eagles, weasles, raccoons, etc., so we have kept our flock in a very secure coop and run for the past six months. It is impossible to free-range them during the day.

    I am thinking of putting together a chicken tractor for next summer so they could free-range in it during the day. I would have to put them back in the ultra-secure coop at night. What I am wondering is would it really be possible to "herd" the hens into the tractor in the morning and then back to the coop at night? A lot of funny images come to my mind when I read this!
     
  2. chickenlady

    chickenlady Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 28, 2007
    Stillwater, NJ
    I'm sure you could train a chicken to do a lot of things. I would put the tractor very close to the coop, put in a very tasty treat, open the doors and hope for the best. If they know there is a good treat waiting for them, you should be able to train them fairly quickly, repetition is key.
     
  3. WoodlandWoman

    WoodlandWoman Overrun With Chickens

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    May 8, 2007
    Wisconsin
    I think that's a great idea and your chickens would probably like that. You can always try to design your tractor and even retrofit your run, with doors that allow docking. A door that slides up is the easiest way to do this.

    I'm sure at least one person on this forum built a tractor that docked with their run. I thought I read about it early last year.

    To make it easier to transfer them using an existing swing out door, you could do this. In the morning, you could keep them in the coop, until you were ready to transfer them to the tractor. That way you could use an existing run door that swings open. Once you had everything in place, you could let them into the run, then they could run out the run door and into the tractor. I think they'd be most inclined to want to run off in the morning, for a day of "big fun." [​IMG]

    At night, if you have the tractor close to the open run door and treats in the run, they'd probably go in without too much fuss. They'd be more tired from a day out, full of fresh food and maybe ready to go home for the night. I remember a couple of people saying that their chickens got used to the routine of transferring between the run and tractor fairly quickly and the transfers were not a problem.
     
  4. sovia

    sovia Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mar 4, 2008
    Black Hills of SD
    Thanks for your replies! Now, I need to let my husband know that he has to build a chicken tractor before spring. I am sure he will love that!
     
  5. CoyoteMagic

    CoyoteMagic RIP ?-2014

    You could make a tractor that backs up to the coop so they could get back in at night. I would place their food in the tractor only. That way they will run out there first thing in the am and you won't have to round them up.
     
  6. ChickKidsDad

    ChickKidsDad Out Of The Brooder

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    Oct 7, 2008
    Kirkwood, MO
    I believe I currently do what you would like to do. Yes, it works. And they can be 50 feet apart with few problems. My tractor is 8 x 8', with 1/2 in wire mesh on all sides and top. On the bottom I have 2 x 4'' wire mesh to prevent any pedator from digging in during the day.

    The girls go into the tractor easily because thats where the treats and food are. The evening go in great too because they like the safety of the coop. The fun of herding the chickens happening when we leave before dusk (to go out to dinner or something). The girls don't like heading into coop too early, (insert funny image of me walking behind chickens). I manage 6 fairly well.

    Good Luck and if you want more suggestions, let me know.
     
  7. sovia

    sovia Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mar 4, 2008
    Black Hills of SD
    ChickKidsDad,

    Do you have a picture of your tractor?

    I know what you mean about herding chickens. Just too funny![​IMG]
     
  8. orcasislandchickens

    orcasislandchickens Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jul 9, 2008
    Wow thanks for your post. I am just where you were six months ago. Finally figured out I cannot free range here. Reading, reading.

    Love the chcken tractor docking station idea btw.
     
  9. ChickKidsDad

    ChickKidsDad Out Of The Brooder

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    Oct 7, 2008
    Kirkwood, MO
    Hopefully this picture uploads. Here's the tractor before nest boxes and handles etc. The roof is is a smaller scale of my grape arbor, which is loosely based on the chinese rainbow bridge. A bit of creative license there. Gives the girls room to perch without having a monstrousity in the yard.

    [​IMG]

    I have other pictures at home.
     
  10. waynesgarden

    waynesgarden Feathers of Steel

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    Mar 30, 2008
    Oxford County
    I did that with one flock of pullets as they grew out. They spent the night in the coop. In the morning I opened the coop and they would follow me to the "tractor." (Actually they followed the cut-out milk jug full of food that I dangled in front of them on the way to the tractor.)

    They then spent the day on a fresh spot on the lawn. In the evening, they would get a few hours of "free-range" time in the yard and would head to the coop on their own while the sun went down.

    Wayne
     

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