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Winter chicken tractor vs.coop in SC

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by ella&clara, Nov 26, 2010.

  1. ella&clara

    ella&clara Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have no chickens yet, but I'm preparing. I want a chicken tractor in my fenced garden. I am thinking about 3x3x8 for 6-8 laying hens. I can grow greenery all year long for them to eat, but will they be happy/warm? Or should I move them to a coop with a fixed run or something? How easy is it to move chickens from tractor to coop and back again--70 degree days in January are not unheard of here. I read the book "Chicken Tractor" by Andy Lee but it seems to reference using one for broilers in the summer. I have land, and I want to give them the most room for movement/greenery while keeping them safe & happy. Thanks!
     
  2. WestKnollAmy

    WestKnollAmy The Crazy Chicken Lady Premium Member

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    [​IMG]

    Take a look at my website. It is under construction but the "Housing" link works. I have a multitude of tractors and various coops. I am 15 miles from the NC line and we do get the snow and the winds but you will see that on the website.
    My birds do very well but I don't put many chickens in a tractor. I am all about space. I have crowded a few but feel that it is unhealthy. I have a flock of free ranging chickens, too so they just coop up at night and I close the door.
     
  3. ella&clara

    ella&clara Chillin' With My Peeps

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    So the nest boxes are back in the area covered on three sides with the siding or whatever? They are happy in there, warm etc?
     
  4. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

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    What part of SC? That is to say, what winter temperatures (I am thinking from your description you're maybe in the more-coastal part of the state...?) and are you on sandy or clayey soil?

    A 3x8 footprint tractor is quite small for 6-8 hens if they will not free range. Especially if you are not going to have an "upstairs" house portion on the tractor to increase the total square footage available (dunno if you are). I would expect a significant chance of problems arising if you put that number of chickens in that size tractor for very long (or maybe at all).

    Obviously there are several different types of solutions to that problem -- but I'd urge you to consider choosing one now, rather than building the tractor as you describe and then discovering you have nasty problems on your hand (note that once pecking/cannibalism start they can't *always* be cured even by giving them more space, sometimes it becomes a permanent habit and you have to make soup and start over, which is not a real cheerful entry into chicken owning)

    Regarding moving them around: a certain number of people do carry (manually or in a box or carrier) chickens from coop to a 'day tractor' type pen each day, so it can certainly be done, particularly if you have a more sedate and friendly breed of chicken. Or if your tractor and ground are suitable you can 'dock' a lightweight day tractor to the chicken coop or run, let the chickens go in, then move it over to the day's grazing with them inside. (This is generally a bit slow process since you're usually dependant on how fast the chickens walk and need to be careful to avoid accidentally squishing any part of them, but it's very doable).

    Be aware that a tractor in a garden patch is usually less predator-safe than a run or a tractor on lawn, because light often-dug bare garden soil is REAL easy for predators to dig through and even having an apron may not necessarily prevent bad things from happening if the neighbor's dog gets in or something like that. Again I do not know how much this applies to your situation but I thought I'd mention it.

    Good luck, have fun,

    Pat
     
  5. ella&clara

    ella&clara Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I am outside of Columbia, and we have clay, except for the raised beds inside my fenced garden. The low last winter was a 10, but that was brief. Thanks for all your input, and more thoughts I will appreciate! I want to get a good start in things.
     
  6. wekiva bird

    wekiva bird Chillin' With My Peeps

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    [​IMG] and [​IMG] i'm near ft.jackson. [​IMG]
     
  7. sunflowerenvy

    sunflowerenvy Chillin' With My Peeps

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    ella&clara :

    I have no chickens yet, but I'm preparing. I want a chicken tractor in my fenced garden. I am thinking about 3x3x8 for 6-8 laying hens. I can grow greenery all year long for them to eat, but will they be happy/warm? Or should I move them to a coop with a fixed run or something? How easy is it to move chickens from tractor to coop and back again--70 degree days in January are not unheard of here. I read the book "Chicken Tractor" by Andy Lee but it seems to reference using one for broilers in the summer. I have land, and I want to give them the most room for movement/greenery while keeping them safe & happy. Thanks!

    if i am reading this right 3 ft high x 3 ft wide x 8 ft long the floor sq ft is 24 sq ft and each bird would need at least 10 sq ft in a pen and in the coop it 4 sq ft so they wont pick on each other if u don't have them free range
    so in that small space you could only have 2 birds if u combine the coop n pen together [not a two story building] and you would have to have a hang out nest box from you coop. this is the at least amount of room for your birds to live in that does not includng the water n food and nest boxes
    if you want 6 birds coop size need to be 6x4 ft [24sq ft]with 3 nest boxes pen size need to be 6x10[60sq ft].
    if you want 8 birds coop size need to be 8x4 ft[32sq ft] with 4 nest boxes pen size need to be 8 x 10[ 80 sq ft].

    if you are going to put in the garden area, that will be soft dirt so it will be easy for predotors to dig under the coop'
    so i would think that would make better since to make a perment coop and make a tractor for day time used

    good luck​
     
  8. WestKnollAmy

    WestKnollAmy The Crazy Chicken Lady Premium Member

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    ella&clara :

    So the nest boxes are back in the area covered on three sides with the siding or whatever? They are happy in there, warm etc?

    My birds seem to stay very warm and happy. They just don't like the wind. The cold does not seem to bother them.
    Some of the nest boxes are in the back and some don't have any and they just lay on the ground. Depends on time of year as if I have nest boxes in there or not.
    That is why I want to redo this design. I plan to put the opening top door on the covered part so I can open it to a nest box like I did on my peaked roof tractor. That has worked out awesome.

    My ground is fairly soft (we do not have red clay) but I have never had a predator to dig under mine. For several years my birds have lived in these things and only in the past 6 weeks have I gotten a dog. I was very lucky, I think. My biggest worry was a critter digging under and getting my birds. Instead, I had a raccoon climb up over the coop, get through a small hole and kill mine.​
     
  9. Cargo

    Cargo Chillin' With My Peeps

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    For that many hens I think you would want a permanent coop and run. A tractor is also great to have if you cannot let them free range.
    If you get a docile and friendly breed of chickens you can train them pretty easy to come to you. Chickens think with their stomachs once you give them some scratch a few times and make your chicken call sound of choice they will come running. (for me it is a kissing noise) Now they follow me around the yard.
    For the size of tractor you listed I would put in no more than 4 at a time for a day and let them out after work. They will get pretty bored with only 24sf of space in a hurry.
    My tractor is that same size but I also have a dedicated run of 200sf and let them out into the fenced backyard daily. I only have a tractor so I can have them out in the front yard (unfenced) in spring and summer.
     
  10. ella&clara

    ella&clara Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks everyone! I actually saw some chickens in person over the weekend, so that was a nice introduction. My parents have cattle, so I'm no stranger to farming, but no one I've been around has ever had chickens. Hence all the research. My tractor would most of the time be inside my fenced in garden, which is fully fenced (to keep out the deer, which has been successful for 5 years), and it's inside 3 strands of electric fence (to keep out the deer from the rest of the yard.) So the critters would have to dig under that fence, which is in solid red clay, and then under a tractor. But raccoons have been known to climb the fence to get to the corn in the summer, but they are not diggers, am I correct? I have a 50x50 foot garden plot, approximately, as well as areas about that large above and below the garden where I could in theory let them range, inside electronet fencing, except for the hawk that likes to sit on the garden fence posts. The garden gate is about 4 feet wide, so I'm thinking 3x8 would be about the largest I could get with a tractor. Maybe I need to do 4 hens in the tractor. I'd want it light enough to move by myself though, so I am hesitant to put in an upstairs. Thanks so much for any advice!
     

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