Matt McSpadden wrote:Hi Trace,
I think you have a good point on the noise levels, but I would suggest only using solid wood for the projects. Plywood, particularly OSB, has a lot of places for water and bacteria to get into. Then it rots and provides breeding grounds for nasty stuff to make the chickens sick. Solid wood will rot too, but much slower. Kind of like how you can eat a steak rare because its solid (usually) and need to be more careful with hamburger because there can be bacteria all inside.
Matt McSpadden wrote:Hi Laurel,
As to the floor, let me HIGHLY suggest that you go bigger than 1/2". I would suggest at least 3/4" or even 1". I put half inch in the bottom of my moveable coop and there was SO much manure that was too big to fit through. With the feathers and straw from the nesting boxes, it made a mat on the floor that I had to spray out quite frequently to keep it clean. I believe a larger sized hole would have reduced this.
As to the siding, I have heard good things about the weight and longevity of aluminum roofing, but I'm not sure about the price.
I wouldn't be too worried about the wind as long as you attach things properly. That looks like a pretty beefy trailer. Good luck with your chickens!
Trace Oswald wrote:I love the idea of converting the trailer to a chicken tractor. If I were siding it, I would use a layer of OSB or some sort of wood on the inside. If you use just metal, it's going to be very loud in it in the wind, rain, or hail and I would be concerned about stressing the birds unnecessarily. I know wood products are very expensive right now, but you will have this for a long, long time, so that would be my suggestion.
Jennifer Davis wrote:Any kind of engineered wood product or plastic can be chewed by rodents. Solid wood can't, and neither can sheet metal or small-hole metal mesh. If you have metal mesh with big holes in it in the floor, snakes can come in. We ended up building our coop out of solid wood framing and corrugated sheet metal, including on the floor. We made a big "door" on the back that we can open up to let out all the hay and manure when we hose it out. Your trailer gate could work the same way. Just be careful not to park it in the sun because the chickens can roast inside if they're not let out early enough in the morning. That could happen if you build it out of plastic or OSB sheeting, also.
Lorinne Anderson wrote:I deal with problem wildlife; my suggestions are based on predator security and durability, rather than "chicken needs" so I may well have missed stuff critical to chicken happiness.
I may have misunderstood; you intend to attach panels on the INSIDE? I would not do this for several reasons. The frame cannot provide near the structural integrity when panels are attached on the inside; plus rain etc, would not be channeled out of the trailer. In my opinion, all siding must be attached to the exterior.
Wood is heavy, rots and can be chewed, personally, I would skip the wood wherever possible.
Siding: metal roofing panels would be ideal, as they are relatively inexpensive, easy to install, and critter proof. If you can find used roofing, or metal siding from a barn teardown, you can likely get it for free.
Hardieboard (concrete siding panels) would work, but might be heavy and/or pricey, and climbable. https://www.jameshardie.ca/products/hardiepanel-vertical-siding.
In my experience plastic, PVC and acrylic panels are pricey, have a fairly short lifespan, and a tendency to get brittle. If you are using this I would stick to a single panel or two on the roof that is easy to replace; make it the absolute last piece(s) attached so it is easily replaced without dismantling the entire structure.
Mesh: I would avoid using this on the floor or lower sides as even if the predators cannot get in, they can still harass and possibly grab or nibble chickens through the wire.
NEVER use or rely on "chicken wire" as a defensive or protective mesh to repel predators; it is only for containing chickens. Expanded metal or Hardward cloth (galvanized 1cm mesh) of the thickest material is the only mesh worth investing in.
It might be worth considering going solid for the first three or four feet, then hardware cloth for a foot or so "below the roof" with a lift up/drop down panel that could close in winter and open in summer to provide extra ventilation.
Ventilation: I highly recommend hardware cloth on the exterior, mosquito netting on the internal side of all ventilation. Never staple mesh, washers and screws or sandwiched between two pieces of wood. The mosquito mesh ensures no wasp or other insect taking up residence inside. I know chickens like bugs, but YOU will not appreciate a wasp nest up in the eaves!
Always ensure you have adequate insulation/ventilation. Not only do you want to avoid ammonia build up but a sealed box in summer could get too hot; an uninsulated box in winter could be too cold. If your climate is hot, you will likely want to create some sort of convection current that will draw ground air up, through and out the top. BUT this may need to be "closed" at night or in winter, depending on climate.
Flooring: You may want to consider the "plastic wood" used for decks known as "composite planks" for flooring; spaced closely together it would be predator proof, allow ventilation, be sturdy enough to walk on and could be shoveled, hosed or pressure washed. Although this stuff is pricey, with such a small area, the investment will likely pay for itself in functionality and longevity. Combined with mesh below (at least 2 inches below planks, preferably 6), plank spacing could be as wide as an inch plus to cut costs and/or provide more ventilation.
Expanded metal openings are likely either too large or not strong enough, in my opinion. What ever you use on the floor, keep in mind the effect it will have on fragile chicken feet (even with straw), you don't want foot sores or stuck toes. Pay attention to how it will be attached and that the mesh is sturdy enough to support a human walking on it (how else will you properly clean it?), yet the holes are small enough to ensure against predators.
Doors: be they human access, chicken access or egg access, make sure they are truly secure; dog leash clips or other spring loaded hardware tend to be critter proof; latches, even padlocks can be puzzled out by animals like raccoons. A simple screwed in eye hook on the door frame and door closed with a dog leash clip rarely if ever fails. For long openings, the addition of a rod fed through eye hooks can be effective to prevent lifting or prying.
Wheels: you may want to consider no flats or solid wheels, tougher to work with, but worth it when you arrive in the back 40 only to discover you have a flat.
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