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Where to start (building chicken tractor etc.......)

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by OklahomaJamie, Apr 24, 2008.

  1. OklahomaJamie

    OklahomaJamie Out Of The Brooder

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    May 10, 2007
    Rural Oklahoma
    I don't know if I've ever posted here, been a member for awhile I think. We don't have any chickens yet. I want to build a small coop, but don't really know where to start. It needs to be really cheap & easy to build. We don't want alot of chickens, just a few for pets and a few eggs, and maybe for my son who gets to join 4-H next year. I was thinking bantam's maybe because they're cute. Anyway, I have a few questions.

    If we build a chicken tractor, do they live in that all the time? on the ground?
    Should we put chicken wire on the bottom of it too, to keep predators from getting in?

    When we get chicks, when do we know it's time to put them outside?

    Thanks,
    Jamie
     
  2. Moselle

    Moselle Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jan 17, 2008
    Well, you have the most important thing decided, and that is to get some chickens! [​IMG]

    The first thing you'll need to decide is what "a few" chickens means, and if you're going to get bantams or standards, (or both), etc. because that will help you figure out how big your tractor needs to be. A good rule of thumb is 10-14 square feet per standard sized chicken (combining the henhouse and run space.) If your chickens are not going to be able to run around "free" in a fenced-in yard or field during the day, then go for larger.

    Chicken tractors are usually put right on the ground. You can wire the "floor", attach wire that sticks out the sides on the ground (usually called a "skirt"), or bury some wire sticking down about a foot into the ground. These options will keep critters from digging out.

    Eventually you may need to cover the "floor" with something like straw, sand, or pine bedding, especially if they don't get to free range. It makes it easier to clean out some of the chicken mess.

    Chicks need very warm temperatures for the first few weeks - so a lot of it depends on how warm/cold it is in your area (especially at night.) The rule of thumb is 95* week 1, 90* week 2, 85* week 3, 80* week 4, 75* week 5, etc. By the time they are 8 weeks old, they'll pretty much have all their grown-up feathers and will be able to keep themselves warm without trouble. Most people will keep them in the house/basement/insulated garage with a heat lamp for the first few weeks.

    Take a look at the home pages here and at the "small coop" page - they will give you some great ideas on how to construct a coop. If there is any construction going on in your area, you will likely be able to find a ton of free building materials that they throw out in the dumpsters. Or also check Craig's list and yard sales for cheap/free things.

    Good luck and have fun! It will be a great project for your son too!
     

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