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What should I do? Chicken tractor?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by risingeaglefarm, Mar 7, 2016.

  1. risingeaglefarm

    risingeaglefarm Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hi, I've had bobwhite quail, pigeons, chickens, and a duck for about 2 years now. I've been keeping them in those small little premade coops you buy at Murdoch's, and I'm just about fed up with them.
    I have a lot of problems and I'm trying to figure out the best way to solve them.
    First, I'm a single mom of a one year old kid, so I don't have a lot of time to spend building anything or cleaning their cages.
    Second, I've got a really bad predator problem. Twice now I've had attacks, and the last one wiped out all but 2 of my pigeons.
    Third, I've got a nosy brother who is always worried that I didn't feed the birds. Which is ridiculous, because I do it every day, but he doesn't believe me. And worse, he always goes and feeds them without telling me, and he often forgets to lock the door afterward, and leaves trash laying around. We get in fights about this all the time and I'm sick of it.
    Fourth, I'm spending too much money on feed, and I need to find a way to reduce or hopefully eliminate costs, because I have NO money. Like, $100 is all I have to work with.
    I've been reading on the internet how chicken tractors are an ideal system for raising poultry. I really like this idea, because; I want to start a garden to grow food for my chickens, but I don't have enough money to buy a plow, it will keep the eggs and chickens cleaner without having to routinely clean out their coop, it will keep them healthier and reduce feed consumption, and it will be easy to maintain.
    The only problem is, first, that I have many predators that would likely be able to break into the chicken tractor, and second, that I can't find a good chicken tractor within my price range.
    So I'm asking for some tips on how to make this work. What is a quick, easy, efficient way to make a chicken tractor (or find one for sale) or something else that will solve the problems I'm having?
    I'm thinking I might have to build two chicken tractors, one for the chickens (3 chickens, 1 duck) and 1 for the 10 quail and 2 pigeons. Out of something cheap and easy to assemble. It has to be easily moved, not some big, heavy yet fragile thing like the coops I have now. I was thinking maybe just buy a cage or something, or maybe using some hardware cloth and wood poles.
    And I figure I'll leave them in there during the day when I can open the windows and hear if something is attacking them, and then move them into the chicken coop and lock it with a padlock (to keep predators and nosy brothers out) at night. And just keep the coop covered with straw.... like a deep bedding system. And then move the chicken tractor once in a while and plant seeds where it was.
    So my question is... what is a good design for a cheap quick easy to build chicken tractor and how do I create a deep bedding system, and how do I grow my own feed? And what other tips can you give me? I need help here because I'm kinda at the end of my rope, ready to give up. Just give me some help, guys.
     
  2. chicklover 1998

    chicklover 1998 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I wouldn't use a tractor from the ones I've seen they aren't too predator proof but you could do a coop on stilts and then add sides to the legs of your coop make the duck house underneath, I'm assuming you have your quail and pigeons in wire cages you could mount them on the wall inside the chicken coop a 2X2X2 would be enough for your quail, and I don't have pigeons so I don't know what they require for size, but the whole foot print of this would be about 8X8 you can probably find a shed on craigslist or local buy sell trades, and I'm sure you could do it for that price. I don't personally like tractors because I think they are just as bad as the pre made coops, you can do pvc pipe feeders my chickens are using way less feed(not using less but wasting less ) for your quail you can do a gutter feeder and put 1/2 inch hardware cloth over the top and that makes it so they can't scratch out the feed, you can also buy cheaper feed or look around to see if there are any grain elevators and you can get way cheaper feed from them. Deep bedding is just turning the bedding a couple times a week start out with 6+ inches of shavings and then add as needed.
     
  3. chxmama

    chxmama Out Of The Brooder

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    I don't know what the solution might be for your situation, but I do think a hoop tractor could work out well if built correctly. Many people have very good success with hoop houses for their birds and they can be made predator proof, as well as economically built in comparison to the cost incurred for a standard coop.

    Here's a great hoop house thread with several variations on how various people built their hoop house coops. Some more predator proof than others, but same basic blueprint and supplies. Sounds like you could build yours smaller, but don't skimp on the hardware cloth, wire apron, etc.
    https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/172799/our-hoop-house-chicken-tractor

    Also a detailed step-by-step of another hoop house. You would need to add roosts and some sort of crates for nest boxes to this design, but easily done. ;)
    https://www.backyardchickens.com/a/hoop-tractor
    and
    http://www2.ca.uky.edu/agc/pubs/ASC/ASC189/ASC189.pdf
     
  4. Tumbling K

    Tumbling K Overrun With Chickens

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    what kind of predators are we talking about?

    one of the main bonuses of tractors, is they are light weight, easy to move around, and allows chickens to the grass inside the tractor(that means no bottom).

    if you are having a predator that can break into the pigeon coops, a tractor may not be the solution for you.
     
  5. risingeaglefarm

    risingeaglefarm Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks for the suggestions and information everyone, Ill be looking it over and considering my options.
    And were talking about all of the predators, BertS. All of them. Cats, dogs, foxes, bears, cougars, eagles, owls, raccoons, skunks, weasels, wolves and coyotes and probably a lot of other things that I just haven't seen yet.
    Its true that the absence of a wire floor is a cause for concern.I guess the only real way to prevent predation is to keep the coop near an open window with a gun at the ready. In the winter, I will probably butcher most of them and bring the rest inside.
    What I ended up doing is buying a dog cage, and I'm going to add some hardware cloth to it and stake it to the ground. I have an aggressive rooster that I'm planning to cull anyway, so I'm going to leave him in there and see what happens to him after a few weeks.
    I guess we will find out as we go how well this works...
     
  6. cavemanrich

    cavemanrich Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Sounds like quite a CRUEL THING TO DO. Maybe you should reconsider keeping your flock. [​IMG]
     
  7. risingeaglefarm

    risingeaglefarm Chillin' With My Peeps

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    What? Testing the process with one bird instead of putting all my birds at risk for predation?

    This rooster attacks the other birds and me and anybody else who comes near every day, so I'm going to butcher him. But if I can use him to test the new cage and see if its safe against predators, that's only sensible, and, I might add, much more responsible than moving the whole flock into it before I know if it is secure. If he ends up dead, then I'm not going to be too broken up about it. Its only nature, after all, and predation happens every day in the wild. But at least then ill know not to use the method for any of my other birds.
     
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2016
  8. cavemanrich

    cavemanrich Chillin' With My Peeps

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    According to your previous post, this secure housing is a dog cage. Not sure how you are going to move the rest of your flock into it. How big can a dog cage be??? Maybe you are stuck between a rock and a hard spot. You need a secure coop, but have no means of getting one at this time. If you lived somewhere in my area, I would donate much of the material needed that I have laying around extra like fencing, Some extra plywood, and all sort of boards that I can get from used pallets. I could work with your brother to build it all together, or just let him do it himself.
    Putting a live rooster as bait into a cage and seeing what will happen after being there for a few weeks is CRUELTY any way you explain it. If someone did that in my area, and someone seen such, then ANIMAL CONTROL would arrive and remove the victim chicken. They would of course ask some questions. If they heard that it was there as a test for a few weeks, they certainly would take it away.
    Maybe I have a different view of chicken keeping. I keep them SAFE from predators. The worst predators in my area are raccoons and occasionally stray dog. . You have more than I according to your observation. Cats, dogs, foxes, bears, cougars, eagles, owls, raccoons, skunks, weasels, wolves and coyotes. You do need a more secure facility for sure. That is why I suggested , to reconsider keeping your flock. You need something secure close to Fort Knox to protect against that assortment of predators. It just appears that you took offense to my opinion. It was just a suggestion as I am a realist.


    My position still stands. I THINK IT IS CRUEL. If you do not wish to hear any of my views anymore than just click the Thumbs,Up at the bottom and write NOT HELPFUL,
    Here is a pix as reference of my coop. It cost me nothing$$$ except some time.
    [​IMG]

    I like to repurpose anything I can.
     
  9. TalkALittle

    TalkALittle Chillin' With My Peeps

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    By "dog cage" do you mean a kennel run or do you mean a wire dog crate? A kennel run can be made quite secure with a few low cost modifications. A wire dog crate, however, will provide no protection. Bobcats will tear into it as will coyotes. Coons will reach through the wire and grab and rip birds out. Even owls will reach through and rip at birds with their talons.

    If you are using a dog crate you are sacrificing your rooster for nothing. I can tell you now that a dog crate is not predator proof. I've witnessed too many determined dogs break out of them.
     
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2016
  10. risingeaglefarm

    risingeaglefarm Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I've kept pigeons in quarantine in said crate for several weeks and never lost any. It had a bottom on, though.
    The dog cage is not much smaller than the coop they're in now.
    I'm totally not in the mood for arguing though. I get enough of that at home.
     

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