Tractor questions

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by seagullplayer, Feb 11, 2008.

  1. seagullplayer

    seagullplayer Out Of The Brooder

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    Jan 3, 2008
    Southern Indiana
    I am planning a chicken tractor for this year; I think I will have to have a wire floor to keep the varmints out. Are there any pitfalls to this?

    I have a lot of 1”x 2” fence wire, I plan to use that for the sides and bottom??

    Also, would you recommend two smaller or one larger? I run about two dozen birds.
     
  2. UncleHoot

    UncleHoot Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 22, 2007
    St. Johns, Michigan
    A wire floor in a tractor? I'm not sure that would work.

    I had something attack and kill one of my meat chickens last year, but simply putting firewood around the sides of the pen kept it from ever happening again.

    I think that having a floor in a tractor would make it very difficult to move. The weight of the birds themselves would be pressing down on the wire, adding to the weight of the tractor. 2 dozen meat birds could add up to 200 lbs of weight that you'd be dragging. Additionally, their legs and/or toes would probably get caught in the wire.

    Something you could do, however, is to skirt the edges with perhaps 12 inches of chicken wire and lay it flat on the ground. But I don't know if that would be a problem when moving it. It would certainly be a varmint deterrent, though.

    I built my tractor pen out of PVC. I posted some pictures here and gave some thoughts here: https://www.backyardchickens.com/forum/viewtopic.php?id=27348&p=2
     
  3. s6bee

    s6bee Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 1, 2007
    Western, NY
    I would advise against it. I'm not a fan of wire anyway, and I see you are in Indiana so they will spend a good amount of time inside in the cold winter months. I have a tractor. I will never do it again. I have the extreme min. of space per bird ( only asked for 4 but got 5 ). We did put roofing shingles on it so that added much of the weight, but it is a BEAST to move. I don't bother moving it. It's not any cheaper either to build so if you can go to a stationary coop, do it!
    Anyway, if you do decide to do the tractor, build a solid floor, this will keep the cold out, be better on their feets, etc. If you are using the wire only to keep the varmints out then place a wire barrier under the solid floor as a back up.

    JMO
    Stephanie
     
  4. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

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    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    It would be difficult to impossible to move with a wire floor, plus I suspect they'd hurt their feet trying to scratch in the dirt.

    Use a skirting of wire, flat on the ground going out a foot or so from the tractor, as someone else suggested. You can weight the edges down with a brick anywhere they don't make good contact with the ground. Make the end piece(s) removable so they're not in your way as you move the tractor, or perhaps better, someone here a couple months ago suggested making 'flip-up' skirt pieces that could be, well, flipped up [​IMG] to keep them out of the way when moving the tractor.

    1x2 wire will keep out dogs and such but raccoons will be able to reach through and pull apart whatever fistfuls of chicken they can reach. Unless the chickens are going to be locked into a solid-walled part of the tractor at night, the recommendation is generally to use 1/2" hardware cloth on the sides, and on the top too if it's low enough a raccoon could reach sleeping chickens' heads.

    Two smaller would be more expensive to make, but a lot easier to move. You choose [​IMG]

    Good luck,

    Pat
     
  5. willheveland

    willheveland Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jan 29, 2008
    southern tier,NY
    I too really don't think that a wire floor will work for you.If you use a solid floor it might as well be a shed because it won't be a tractor.You still have the mess to clean on the floor.I think the skirting thing will work well.If you really are worried about predators you can buy some dog panels at a agri supply the squares are like 3"x3 "and come in 16 ft lengths.You can cut them down with bolt cutters then lay them around the outside on the ground.They are like 3ft high so they would have to dig a tunnel at least 3ft long to get to them.
    I have chicken tractors and they work great.Mine are light and pretty strong,I have never had a predator problem.They are no where near 100% predator proof but nothing is.Mine are covered with chicken wire(except the bottoms)I use a tarp over the top for a roof.If they are for meat birds they won't be in there for more than 10 weeks anyways,there is no need for anything more,it is just going to weigh more.If you have to have a more permanant roof use metal they are much much lighter than shingles and snow will slide off metal when they are not being used.You won't be raising the meat birds in the winter anyways will you?
    I put plastic rain gutters on the inside to be used as feed troughs so the chickens can't sit too close to the wire so nothing is going to reach in to get them.the only exposure might be by the door.
    Check out "MY PAGE" I have pictures of some of my pens on there,any questions just message me. good luck. Will:)
     
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2008
  6. seagullplayer

    seagullplayer Out Of The Brooder

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    Jan 3, 2008
    Southern Indiana
    Thanks for the heads up so far, just to clearify.

    I do plan to have a small coop on one end, with a solid floor. It is just the "run" part that would have wire.

    The birds will be for eggs. I have a nice barn stall for them to winter in, they are there now.

    I'm looking to avoid the mud that always comes with a fixed run. I love to let the chickens free range, but to many get eat by something other than me...

    I have an ATV to help move the thing?
     
  7. naturemom

    naturemom Chillin' With My Peeps

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    northern IL
    Mine is made of welded wire, and has a wire floor. It's small and not hard to move. The chickens can't scratch the soil as well as they could without a floor, but they haven't had any problems with their feet. We tried leaving out the floor, but since it is all wire with no frame, it was too wobbly without the floor.
     
  8. tororider

    tororider Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Feb 6, 2008
    Southeast MI
    Here is one that I saw that was a little larger, although I don't think big enough for 2 dozen chickens.

    http://www.backyardpoultrymag.com/issues/2/2-1/Bill_Dreger.html

    If you have a four wheeler, you could add wheels on the back and then put a tongue on the front to use your four wheeler with to move.

    With regards to a wire floor, I agree with adding a skirting. My idea for one is something that hinges up on the side that you can clip up while not needed or not in use, then just hinge down when you need to. If you figure how to fold the wire in the corners you could have protection all the way around. Then maybe just stake the hinged skirting down to help deter predators. Those were my thoughts when I was thinking about making a tractor.

    You could also add another just run tractor if you put matching doors in your normal tractor and your run tractor to give the chickens more room to run around.
     
  9. foxtrapper

    foxtrapper Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 18, 2007
    Had one with a wire floor on the run. Quite a disaster.

    Made moving the tractor nearly impossible. The way it would grab the grass was remarkable.

    Birds stomp their poop into the mesh, but not through it. You get a nice cake that won't come off.

    I've been running a tractor with a run for several years here. Lots of predators in the area, and I've lost many birds free ranging them. Zero predators losses with a basic tractor, no side skirts or such. Just move it daily.
     
  10. frostychicken

    frostychicken Out Of The Brooder

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    Apr 5, 2007
    I too would like to have a tractor to keep some meat birds separate from the layers. In order to avoid any predator problems, I have considered a wire floor or a little coop within the tractor that can be secured. I have decided to go with the small coop that can be closed up at night. If I have to check the feed and water as well as move the tractor every day, I have no problem including the task of securing the birds at the end of the day. Additionally, I’d like the bit of weight from the little coop to help keep the thing from getting picked up by the wind.

    I also have a couple questions:
    As an alternative to the Cornish X birds, has anyone had the ‘ranger’ type birds that are meant for the pasture? Any sources of chicks that you’d recommend?

    UncleHoot – I am in the same area of Michigan that you are. Because you have had a fair number of meat birds, I am interested to know if you process your own or have found a place that will process them. I have done a few, but if I have a small bunch to do at once, it might be easier to take them somewhere.
     

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