Tractor vs Fixed Coop/Run

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by mangus580, Mar 31, 2009.

  1. mangus580

    mangus580 Out Of The Brooder

    85
    0
    39
    Mar 30, 2009
    Western NY
    Ok, I have read many many posts, and I have yet to see a definitive list of pros/cons to each.

    Any chance we could list some? I am looking to set something up for about 6 birds... Thinking a 6'x4' coop, positioned over the run, allowing a total run size of 6'x12'.

    I have considered both ways... Tractor vs Fixed. I know my size is slightly large for a Tractor setup, but I am sure I can come up with an easy way to move it using the riding lawnmower, so thats not an issue.

    My question is mostly why would I choose a Tractor vs a Fixed setup?

    I'm looking for as low maintenance as possible, minimal cleaning, minimal labor. I am in Western NY, so whatever I choose has to be Winterized easily too. I would also prefer to use either an automatic door, or SUPER predator proof the run, as I am semi-lazy and not a morning person ;-)

    I know one advantage to a Fixed setup is they are much easier to Predator Proof than a tractor.

    I know that Tractors are great for working up the ground... but I really dont have a 'need' for that... I was thinking tractor just for run cleanliness....

    So... All that said... lets make a list of Pros and Cons for each.....
     
  2. #1California Chick

    #1California Chick Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 5, 2008
    SF Bay Area
    [​IMG] Welcome to BYC!!! [​IMG]


    Depending on your location and predators in your area, the ability to keep out predators could be the #1 criteria.

    Also, for me, the "pro" for a fixed coop is that I DONT have to move it!!

    Let's see what others say!

    Cindy
     
  3. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    12,521
    85
    341
    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    Quote:I know I've typed this out at least three times before but of course it is difficult to find that -- I can't, offhand, and I *wrote* it [​IMG] -- so here goes again, as per my opinion/experience, in no particular order:

    TRACTORS:
    Advantages: often cheaper to build, tho comparably small fixed
    coop may be similar price
    moveable, so can avoid things like seasonal flooding
    and (possibly) taxes/permits/setback req's
    provides chickens with grass to eat and play in
    less likelihood of intensive parasite egg buildup
    can easily go with you if you move to another home

    Disadvantages: harder to predatorproof the run part
    don't do well on steep or 'bumpy' land (b/c gaps)
    rather rough wintering-over for birds in N climates
    (hard not to sacrifice air quality, drafts, temps)
    *require* regular moves, or else you get bare spots
    moving may sometimes be impossible b/c mud or
    snow, leading to Unpleasant Conditions
    cannot be very big, esp. the indoor part
    more exposure to variety of parasites etc (b/c moving
    over lotsa ground used by wild birds)
    some are vulnerable to blowing/tipping over
    cannot run electricity 'properly' to tractor (can only
    use an extension cord, not without hazards)

    FIXED COOP/RUN:
    Advantages: can be bigger, including a WHOLE LOT bigger, to
    allow more birds and/or more space per bird
    doesn't require you to 'do' anything (moving schedule)
    can be built on even steep or 'bumpy' ground
    can be more seriously predatorproofed, if desired
    can be made very winter-climate-friendly
    can have good electric, plumbing, that sort of thing

    Disadvantages: costs more, esp. if you are going for 'bigger'
    may be taxable or require permits; tractor may not
    run will get thrashed to dirt unless vast, thus no
    grass for chickens, and possibility of mud
    possibility of parasite egg buildup over time
    if you move to another home, may not be moveable


    I am looking to set something up for about 6 birds... Thinking a 6'x4' coop, positioned over the run, allowing a total run size of 6'x12'.<snip> I know my size is slightly large for a Tractor setup, but I am sure I can come up with an easy way to move it using the riding lawnmower, so thats not an issue.

    Weight is not the only issue for mobility -- you will also need to carefully consider engineering for *rigidity*, because moving imposes considerable stresses on the structure (flexing in ways it wasn't intended, etc). It should be feasible but will require good engineering.

    I am in Western NY, so whatever I choose has to be Winterized easily too. I would also prefer to use either an automatic door, or SUPER predator proof the run, as I am semi-lazy and not a morning person ;-)

    Honestly, I think those two things argue pretty strongly for a fixed coop in your situation. Since you seem not to care much about 'tractoring' the ground, the only downside is your chickens will not be on grass (not after the first short while anyhow) but you can chuck them all sorts of kitchen scraps and garden surplus and weedings and cut-out turf and so forth, and they will have plenty to scratch around in and snack on and not really miss grass much [​IMG]

    JMHO,

    Pat​
     
  4. mangus580

    mangus580 Out Of The Brooder

    85
    0
    39
    Mar 30, 2009
    Western NY
    I wonder if it should maybe be a sticky?? ;-)




    Tell me about the egg parasites? If the coop is kept clean... is this a problem?



    As for as structure... I actually have the same in mind for the most part for either method... I just may not go to some of the 'rigidity' trouble if I am not going with the tractor method. Will also most likely get wired for electricity in a fixed method.
     
  5. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    12,521
    85
    341
    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    I can see it is going to be a difficult day to have a sensible conversation, I suggest ignoring the word "rooster" anywhere in this post [​IMG]

    There are sort of two categories of parasites to consider -- mites and lice, which live on the chickens full-time or nearly fulltime, and worms etc which spend part of their life cycle in the chicken gut but also have secondary hosts such as snails, worms, beetles, etc that they MUST spend some time in to mature and lay eggs.

    Mites and lice are going to be a bit of a low-level issue no matter where you are, although IME chickens will pick them up sooner and/or more frequently in a tractor. They are pretty easy to control or exterminate, by means of sevin or rotenone dust or DE or that sort of thing.

    Internal parasites however, i.e worms etc (includes coccidia and so forth) are not easy to get rid of, because they are Small But Mighty. There are no wormers approved for laying chickens without a significant withdrawal period. Thus if you worm your chickens, you probably oughtn't'a eat the eggs (or try hatching them) for a few weeks, ish. Also, perhaps more inconveniently, no wormer will 'get' all kinds of worms, so you can't even just do it preemptively like you would with horses. And of course worms don't always advertise that they're there, til they've done some damage.

    I'm only saying this for background: in reality, most people do not worm unless they have reason to believe their chickens *have* worms (from seeing 'em, or from a positive fecal test, or from symptoms suggestive of worms), and worms are seldom an intractible problem. However, it does seem to be more or less true (as a generalization) that your chickens will pick up various worms sooner if they are free-ranged or tractored (b/c of exposure), but an older run can build up a higher population of worm eggs/larvae than a bird would be likely to encounter while free-ranging or tractored.

    It's not 'this good that bad', but it is somewhat of a tradeoff.

    Does that help any? Hope there were not too many "roosters" in there [​IMG]

    Pat
     
  6. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

    20,118
    3,322
    496
    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    Pat, A tremendous list. May I add a couple of thoughts.


    TRACTORS:
    Advantages: often cheaper to build, tho comparably small fixed
    coop may be similar price
    moveable, so can avoid things like seasonal flooding
    and (possibly) taxes/permits/setback req's
    provides chickens with grass to eat and play in
    less likelihood of intensive parasite egg buildup
    can easily go with you if you move to another home
    Less poop to manage
    Can help prepare garden (remove weeds and grass, scratch it up and pre-fertilize)
    Safer against hawks unless you cover your fixed run



    Disadvantages: harder to predatorproof the run part
    don't do well on steep or 'bumpy' land (b/c gaps)
    rather rough wintering-over for birds in N climates
    (hard not to sacrifice air quality, drafts, temps)
    *require* regular moves, or else you get bare spots
    moving may sometimes be impossible b/c mud or
    snow, leading to Unpleasant Conditions
    cannot be very big, esp. the indoor part
    more exposure to variety of parasites etc (b/c moving
    over lotsa ground used by wild birds)
    some are vulnerable to blowing/tipping over
    cannot run electricity 'properly' to tractor (can only
    use an extension cord, not without hazards)
    No permanent water supply possible.
    Less poop for composting (disadvantage only for gardeners)
    May require separate permanent shelter for winter in certain climates


    FIXED COOP/RUN:
    Advantages: can be bigger, including a WHOLE LOT bigger, to
    allow more birds and/or more space per bird
    doesn't require you to 'do' anything (moving schedule)
    can be built on even steep or 'bumpy' ground
    can be more seriously predatorproofed, if desired
    can be made very winter-climate-friendly
    can have good electric, plumbing, that sort of thing
    Better protection during severe weather
    May be easier to get someone to feed, water, and collect e g g s when you are on vacation


    Disadvantages: costs more, esp. if you are going for 'bigger'
    may be taxable or require permits; tractor may not
    run will get thrashed to dirt unless vast, thus no
    grass for chickens, and possibility of mud
    possibility of parasite egg buildup over time
    if you move to another home, may not be moveable
     
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2009
  7. mangus580

    mangus580 Out Of The Brooder

    85
    0
    39
    Mar 30, 2009
    Western NY
    Thats looking to be a great list!


    Pat, I think that makes sense.


    I think I am going to switch to a fixed design for sure. It should work out pretty decent, and from my thoughts, I can always 'move it' once in a while if I would like (unless I dig power out to it)



    Any chance of making this list a sticky??
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by