Winterized chicken tractor for ten hens

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by MI-CHick, Jan 14, 2011.

  1. MI-CHick

    MI-CHick Out Of The Brooder

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    I am looking to build a winterized tractor for next year. I want something that will be relatively easy to move and take up as little space as possible given that it will house ten hens. I’m thinking it would be great if I could make it 2 stories to give the birds the space they need but take up less space in my yard.
     
  2. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

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    Goodness, you don't want much, why not have it self-cleaning and able to levitate too LOL

    That is a considerable challenge you have set yourself, even if you have a vehicle to use to pull it and/or are willing to split the thing into two units (a 'house' part, and a run part) that move separately and then dock back together.

    If your username means you are in Michigan, the challenge is greater still, because it is real tricky wintering hens in crowded small spaces in cold snowy climates. Even if you only give them 3 sq ft per hen (which IMO is greatly inadequate and has a substantial chance of leading to social problems and will make hygeine and ventilation management verrrry tricky) that still requires that the house alone be something like 5x6 or 4x8. If you want to give them a more reasonable standard of living and a better chance of getting thru the winter without cannibalism/frostbite you are looking at twice that or more. Which gets to be a biiiiig solid structure to be moving without vehicular help. Plus run, of course.

    Remember you will not be able to move the tractor in snowy or muddy weather.

    It is not that it *can't* be done, but it is certainly a substantial design challenge (unless I am misunderstanding your username and you actually live in, like, coastal Georgia or San Francisco or something [​IMG]) and you might want to think about whether it's really teh best route to go. As opposed to perhaps a permanent wintertime coop, with either a permanent run or summer free-ranging or a movable day-tractor for summertime.

    Just a thought, good luck, have fun,

    Pat
     
  3. elmo

    elmo Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I'm in agreement with Patandchickens. And as far as cold weather chicken keeping, in my opinion she's a real expert.

    I personally am not a fan of tractors as 24 hour a day housing because it's harder to make them as predator resistant as a stationary coop, and your design options get limited by the practical considerations of weight. I use stationary coops with attached runs for nights and bad weather, and tractors as day pens in good weather.

    One thing you could consider is splitting your flock into two groups and building a tractor for each group. That keeps the size (and weight) of the tractor down to something more manageable.
     
  4. JoAnn_WI_4-H_Mom

    JoAnn_WI_4-H_Mom Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I use winter quarters in a pole shed, not winterized tractors. I cannot imagine moving the tractors around in 3 ft of snow. The kids pile snow on the tractors and use them for igloos.

    Let us know if you make this work.
     
  5. pharmchickrnmom

    pharmchickrnmom Chillin' With My Peeps

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    We are currently housing a flock of 8 girls in our tractor. It is fully insulated and is 4x8. You can see it on my byc page. My husband and I moved it every day all summer up until the first snow of the season. We then parked on on the side of the house near the kitchen door as there is an outdoor outlet to run an extension cord to the tractor for the cookie tin heater. We have the portable run in front of it as well and put hay bales around the sides and back so break the wind and give some insulation. It was -1 this morning and the waterer was still liquid. The girls have the option of going into the run or under the tractor every day except when there is a snow storm going on. It is really the only time they are locked up. As far a predators are concerned, the girls are locked up every night and the only thing that can break into their tractor is a bear or a human being. Caught a weasel in a havahart trap this summer behind his shed and dispatched it. Hawks are around but my run is covered. Dogs have been through but no breakins. Coyotes and fox run the swamp and bears pass through but so far we have been good. Perhaps it is because the tractor is in the yard close to the house but I have had bears on my porch and backyard. I ran them off.

    I believe I also have pics of the girls in the run a couple of weeks ago after a storm. It can be done if you plan and build for it properly. This is our first year with chickens and we love it. Pat does have some very valid points and is pretty much the expert in this so please consider her opinions carefully. It does take more work and planning with a tractor but I love my cheeps and so I am willing to do it even in the middle of a storm(rain or snow)! My kids think I'm nuts. Do your homework. Spend lots of time reading this site and looking at other peoples setups and ask questions. Thats what we did and still do. Read Pats articles on her page. She has good advice. Good luck and keep us posted. Remember, unless there are pictures....it never happened!
     

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