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How to keep a chicken tractor cool?

 
Dean Moriarty
Posts: 102
Location: Danville, KY (Zone 6b)
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I just finished building the framing for my 8'x10' Salatin-style portable chicken pen. I was about to put aluminum roofing panels on the sides and top like Joel, but I'm worried that my chickens are gonna roast in there in our hot Kentucky summer.

Has anyone used a different roofing and siding material to keep the pen cooler in the summer sun? If so, what did you use? I thought about a simple tarp, but I'm afraid it will collect too much water, not to mention it won't last long unless it's somehow UV protected and I'm not even sure where to get a tarp like that which will last. Any other ideas? (Pictures would also be great!)

Thanks.
 
Todd Parr
Posts: 572
Location: Wisconsin, zone 4
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I wouldn't side a chicken tractor in a hot climate. I would build framing, cover it in chicken wire or the like, and build a roof for shade. Aluminum is fine for a roof. Paint it white and leave the side open for good air flow.
 
Dean Moriarty
Posts: 102
Location: Danville, KY (Zone 6b)
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One more follow up question... Would it be helpful to paint the aluminum white on the outside? Or is the shiny silver better at reflecting heat?
 
Dean Moriarty
Posts: 102
Location: Danville, KY (Zone 6b)
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Thanks Todd. I suppose I could just have something nearby to cover the sides during a rain storm to keep them dry, since we occasionally have some pretty windy storms come through in the Spring.
 
Todd Parr
Posts: 572
Location: Wisconsin, zone 4
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If you put a roost in near the roof of the tractor, will be up out of the rain, depending on the design of the top. My chicken tractor has a gable roof and it offers plenty of protection from rain. I've also found that unless it is really pouring, chickens don't mind rain at all and walk around outside in it even if they have the choice of being inside.
 
R Scott
Posts: 3305
Location: Kansas Zone 6a
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You can add radiant barrier under the tin, it is cheap and makes a HUGE difference. I wish I would have thought of that BEFORE I built mine!
 
Wes Hunter
Posts: 108
Location: Seymour, MO
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We use cattle panel hooped shelters and cover them with tarps. At first we bought standard woven medium-duty all-purpose tarps, and after two years they're toast. If you're lucky they won't have shredded to bits, but they're still just trash at that point. Anyway, they didn't overheat the shelters, though the profile (approx. 6 ft at the peak) helped. In your case, a peaked roof would work toward the same end, and would prevent water pooling.

I was going to buy treated canvas tarps this year, thinking that although they're expensive we would get more years out of them, and we could presumably patch them when needed to further extend their life. Downside (other than expense) is that they're stinking heavy.

Then I found a great deal at Bass Pro on some Redhead brand (that's a Bass Pro store label) polyester tarps made of tent fabric. They're lightweight and seem quite sturdy, though we've only been using them about four weeks. As a bonus, the stated size was actual, so a 12x16 tarp is actually 12x16'. (Most tarps are measured before the ends are folded over and sewn, and thus are smaller than the stated size.) I don't know if they're still available--I bought them on clearance a couple months ago--but surely there are other manufacturers.

That said, one upside to metal roofing is that the sheets are much more reusable than a tarp should you stop raising poultry and disassemble the shelters (this is why we opted for cattle panel shelters).
 
Tyler Ludens
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Posts: 8979
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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I'm not convinced chicken tractors are appropriate for a hot climate. I made some tall tractors to provide sufficient shade and ventilation, and then got to see one cartwheel across the back field during a freak windstorm. 100% loss of chickens. So the next time I raise chickens in a field, I'll be using the mobile coop and paddock system, not tractors.

 
Wes Hunter
Posts: 108
Location: Seymour, MO
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Tyler Ludens wrote:I'm not convinced chicken tractors are appropriate for a hot climate. I made some tall tractors to provide sufficient shade and ventilation, and then got to see one cartwheel across the back field during a freak windstorm. 100% loss of chickens. So the next time I raise chickens in a field, I'll be using the mobile coop and paddock system, not tractors.



A tall shelter absolutely requires staking to keep it anchored in the wind. We had two (empty) shelters destroyed a couple years ago when they got blown into the tree line because I didn't stake them. Rebar stakes hammered in at an angle on the prevailing wind side and tied to the shelter's corners is usually sufficient.
 
Mike Turner
Posts: 309
Location: Upstate SC
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A sheet of aluminized bubble wrap is very effective at keeping roof heat from entering a shelter.


To extend the life of a tarp, let it weather for about 2/3 of its usual life so that its formerly smooth surface becomes checked, then coat it with that 7 or 10 year life white isomeric roof coating (at Lowes). The white coating makes it much cooler than the tarp's original gray or blue color. In our hot South Carolina summers, a blue tarp is usually good for 3 months and a gray tarp is good for 6 months and I was faced with biannual tarp replacements, but the isomeric coated tarp on my chicken house has been in use for over 4 years so far with no signs of wearing out.
 
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