tractor or permanent coop with run?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by lilranchette, Aug 21, 2013.

  1. lilranchette

    lilranchette Out Of The Brooder

    26
    1
    24
    Jun 16, 2013
    Got my chickens in a temporary 16x24 pen today so I can now start planning their permanent place before winter. I don't know if I should make a chicken tractor or a solid wooden coop and pen.
    I would love to let them free range and maybe that will work out later but I have a German Shepherd who has never seen chickens and he is very interested in tbem so I won't let them oit until I know he is ok with them. I have 7 acres and they would have a lot of space to peck around.

    I've seen a PVC tractor that looks easy to make, its not the hoop coop. It's a big square one with a coop attached. I like the movability part but in the winter don't think it'd be getting mpved much. I live in the high desert in Oregon. Winters will get pretty cold and they will need a heat lamp and heated water.
    Any suggestions? I don't know where to start!
     
  2. fiddlebanshee

    fiddlebanshee Chillin' With My Peeps

    937
    36
    158
    Mar 11, 2010
    Frederick, MD
    How much snow do you get in the winter? Anything with a flat top will collapse if it is made of pvc with even a moderate amount of snow.
    Also pvc deteriorates in the sun. So use the grey electrical type. Any reason why you don't like a hoop type?
     
  3. lilranchette

    lilranchette Out Of The Brooder

    26
    1
    24
    Jun 16, 2013
    Some wintes we barely get a skiff of snow. Sometimes a foot, a couple years we've had knee deep but that's only been twice in 20 years. It does get cold here, by January its normal to be 10-20 at night. My goats kid in January so I have heat lamps for them and assume the chickens will need one.
    One of my goat houses is a actually a hoop house. It has pallet walls then cattle panels for a roof covered in a tarp. Its so much warmer in the winter than my 3 sided horse shelters, when we take the goats in to trim their feet we start taking off layers of clothes.
    So I have nothing against a hoop coop. I mentioned the square one because of the actual size of the run area. The coop itself isnt flat. It has a slanted roof on it.
    I'd like suggestions of what most people use and why, so I only build one.
    I have 4 hens and there's 3 chicks. Dont know if Ill keep all of them. If they're roosters definately not. There is one rooster who might have a home. So coop big enough for 4-6 chickens and run. I want a place for nesting boxes and a roost. Just don't know if I want permanent or tractor.
     
  4. thomasboyle

    thomasboyle Chillin' With My Peeps

    912
    185
    146
    Feb 28, 2013
    Northwest Hills of CT
    I started with a PVC frame run attached to my permanant shed, and it lasted less than 1 year. The sides and roof were chicken wire. The roof would collapse after a moderate snowfall of 6-8 inches (yes, snow does accumulate on chicken wire!). Also, PVC becomes brittle in cold weather and after exposure to UV rays from the sun. So after propping up the PVC run for the 3rd time last winter, I went all out and built a new run last summer with 4x4 posts and 4x6 beams and metal roofing. No more mud, no more shoveling out the run etc. I put in 4" of sand, and it was the best upgrade I have ever made.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
    1 person likes this.
  5. lilranchette

    lilranchette Out Of The Brooder

    26
    1
    24
    Jun 16, 2013
    Oh wow! That is gorgeous! I love the run. And so agree about the cover, I don't like the mud, snow etc either in the winter time. That is such a cool idea. But way over my head!
    Do you ever let your chickens out to free range? I am afraid to right now because of the dog, and they are so new here, I want them to know where to go at night.

    So....I'm not so sure about the portable tractor type now. The people gave me a chicken coop with the chickens, really solid wood but it is just bare bones. It it about 3 feet high in the back and maybe 4 and a half in front. About 5 by 5. has a front door. But only covered in chicken wire and he just had a piece of cardboard on the top for sun. But it is solidly built with 2x4's. I could finish that into a coop I think, with plywood on the outside. Put some roosts in there and a little ramp up to the boxes.
    I want a couple of nesting boxes to collect from the back. And to make it easier to make, just put in a hinged door that opens down instead of nesting boxes that stick out of the back. I could fence a large pen around it, with the back of the coop along the fence line so I can collect eggs from the outside. If they lay them in there!
     
  6. cknkids

    cknkids Chillin' With My Peeps

    177
    13
    81
    Jun 27, 2012
    Camarillo, CA
    With 7 acres, I'll worn you about chicken math...
    We just started with chicken June 2012 and spent last summer building our coop & run. One thing I've noticed reading different post is it seems like no matter how well folks plan there is so much learning that goes on in the first few years that folks want to change thing or would do them differently. I sill love what we built but would defiantly do it differently now and we're on a city lot and limited to 5 hens. So for those reasons I like you plan on finishing the little coop and attaching a simple run. Make it snug, with plenty of ventilation for the winter and see where you are next year. Many on this site recommend 4 sq ft of house and 10 sq ft of run space per chicken with predator proofing being a big concern. Good luck and enjoy.
     
  7. thomasboyle

    thomasboyle Chillin' With My Peeps

    912
    185
    146
    Feb 28, 2013
    Northwest Hills of CT
    I let my chickens and ducks out every day, usually for 3 hours once I get home from work. I was losing too many if I let them out all day - foxes and bobcats are in the area.

    Tractors can be a great way to keep chickens, I would recommend making them of wood instead of PVC. 2x3's would make a good frame, with a plywood shelter and hardware wire for the open area. I've seen some nice ones with wheels on the front so you can easily move them from place to place in the yard. Sounds like you can get a good start with the coop you were given. I would highly recommend replacing the chicken wire with hardware wire. Chicken wire is great for keeping chickens in, but not adequate for keeping predators out. Dogs and raccoons can tear through it rather easily.

    One of the easy things about chickens is they want to come home at night, and they want to lay eggs where other eggs are, so getting them to come home to the coop and lay in the nesting boxes is usually easy. I never have to round up my hens, they come in automatically when the suns is going down. The only time I have had eggs somewhere besides the nesting boxes is when I accidentily locked them out of the coop!

    Post pictures when you get your coop or tractor up and running.
     
  8. thomasboyle

    thomasboyle Chillin' With My Peeps

    912
    185
    146
    Feb 28, 2013
    Northwest Hills of CT
    Well said! You learn so much, and find easier and better ways to care for the birds. I have re-build the inside of my shed / coop 3 times now, moving interior walls, changing the arrangement of things to make it better.
     
  9. Biologrady

    Biologrady Chillin' With My Peeps

    177
    12
    93
    Apr 12, 2012
    Yep, avoid commitment. In less than a year we've moved the fencing several times to accommodate heat waves, need for electricity, cleaner grass, protecting chicks from adults and desire for good compost. I love dog kennel fence... Ours is lightweight and easy to reconfigure and move, and depending on your predator situation, to add additional wire to. You'll laugh, but I moved our four hens from the coop to the run and back each day in a dog crate. They were eager to get in each morning, and eager to get in each evening! (But I did enjoy the lazy weeks when their pen adjoined the coop too!)
     
  10. lilranchette

    lilranchette Out Of The Brooder

    26
    1
    24
    Jun 16, 2013
    OK, today is the day. We are starting the coop. The chickens escaped their temporary pen yesterday but no biggie. They just pecked around. My shepherd was with me in the house so he didn't even know they were out. I am sure when I get the time to have them out and let him know he is not to bother him, it will be fine. I have had baby goats get out and had a herd of them jumping all over the place when I got home, and he would be waiting at the gate for me to get home. But I still don't ever want him to just find them running around when I'm not there to supervise.
    We shall see how it goes! Hoping we get the coop done today and add a run tomorrow. :)
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by