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Waynes chicken tractor conversion  RSS feed

 
pollinator
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I am turning my chicken tractor into a chicken tractor. I am taking both pictured items and combining them.

My chicken tractor is great when moving it a few feet at a time. As i had to feed hay over winter i ended up with super concentrations of cow paddies they can scratch.  Not to mention uneaten hay that the chickens can spread out. I will be able to move the coop over great distances with this set up.
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wayne fajkus
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As this progresses I will cover some basics to keeping the chickens secure, and keep cleaning to a minimum. I'll go over what i like and what i would do different with this coop.

I added floor joists to bottom of coop

TIP#1:   The pink rope and snap are to hold their water off the ground. This works well as my area slopes. It also allows you to move the original tractor without removing it.
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wayne fajkus
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I shortened the hay wagon to fit the coop. Here they are, ready to merge.
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wayne fajkus
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Merged. Need to add hardware cloth to floor and possibly a ramp to the door.
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wayne fajkus
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TIP#2 : use 1/2" hardware cloth on sides. If not the whole side, at least a couple feet up. Solid walls are are good also. A raccoon can stick his hand through chicken wire and grab their leg or head. You will end up with a dead headless (or legless) chicken. Both have happened to me.
 
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wayne fajkus wrote:TIP#2 : use 1/2" hardware cloth on sides. If not the whole side, at least a couple feet up. Solid walls are are good also. A raccoon can stick his hand through chicken wire and grab their leg or head. You will end up with a dead headless (or legless) chicken. Both have happened to me.



Just as importantly, the chicken can fit his head out of the cage.  Just as easy a way to lose it...

I like your project and I'll be following this.
 
wayne fajkus
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Thanks todd

Let me define some components. This is my lingo so you know what im talking about.

The coop is the area that they sleep and lay eggs in. So its broken down into 2 areas. Sleeping area and egglaying area.

The part they spend their day in is the run. This is usually screened 4 sides and the roof.

Outside is outside the coop and run. This is when they are allowed to free range outside.

A point to mention is i never lost a chicken that was free ranging. I have lost chickens to door being left open at night, or weaknesses in the structure at night.  Predation seems to happen at night. I have no daytime worries . I know people that lost some at daytime to dogs. I dont see dogs on my homestead
 
wayne fajkus
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TIP#3 : Collect eggs from outside. Its very easy to retrofit an existing coop to collect from outside. This is the back of my coop. Separate the egg area from sleeping area. Easiest thing is place a 1x2 or 1x4 between the 2 areas. They should walk over that board to get into laying areas. This keeps them from scratching the bedding into the sleep area.

I would change the door.  Mine is hinged from the top. I would rather have the roof fixed and the vertical wall under it flap open. It makes for easier cleaning as you can scrape out the bedding (scrape is appropriate term when an egg breaks). It mskes egg collection easier if chicken is in the egglaying area. The hand can go under the chicken vs moving her out of the way if coming down from the top.

The other change would be a hardware cloth bottom.  Youll have bedding over it so bottom type has no relevance.  Once again, this makes for easier cleaning. Sometimes you"ll want to hose the whole coop out. This allows water to drain and dissolve/push dried poop out with the water hose.

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wayne fajkus
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TIP#4: fully stitch any overlaps in the run.

I had built a run for a permanent coop that was ruffly  8ft x 12ft. I had to overlap the chicken wire to fully enclose the roof.  The second piece kind of bubbled over the first piece. I hope the pic makes sense. I probabled used tie wire 4 times across the 8ft span to keep it together. Better option is use the tie wire to stitch through both sections of chicken wire the full length. If you want to twist tie, do a bunch of them.

A squirrel got in through that bubble. That squirrel was stuck in the run like how a minnow trap works. While the squirrel did no damage to the chickens, he was bloodied up trying to get out in a panick. Running full force into the chicken wire.  It was a mess.

Remember that hardware cloth only needs to cover bottom 2 feet of wall. In a big run, use chicken wire for $$ savings. Ive also screwed old roof metal to the run sides instead of using hardware cloth.  Just one piece along the bottom length. Part of my reasoning (besides having it on hand) is it deletes any line of site a ground predator would have on the chickens during daytime.
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wayne fajkus
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This shows the sleeping area. It has 1/4" hardware cloth. I would prefer 1/2". Too much poop stays up top but rubbing it with a hoe (when dry) pushes it down and out.

Chicken wire may be better here as more poop should drop through. It may allow a snake into the coop, which is why I use the cloth.

You can also see the 1x4 barrier between sleeping area and egg area. Taller would be better. I had nothing there originally and this keeps a lot of bedding out of screen.
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wayne fajkus
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So far we have an outside run on the dirt,  grass, ground. If let out daily,  this stays clean and needs no maintenance.  If moved(tractor) it needs no maintenance as the ground changes as it's moved. If permanent and they are not let out, it will lose all its grass and they will make depressions to dust bathe. In this scenario, bedding might be good in wet whether. It will be a mudhole unless its roofed.

The sleeping area has a screened bottom. If permanent,  you rake the poop out from under it, from the outside. If a tractor, you move the coop, leaving the deposits where they land. In either case, periodic cleaning may be rubbing a hoe to push dried debris through, or using tbe hoe to scrape it and scoop it. An access hatch on the side may be neccessary and easily incorporated into the design. A water blast can be used also. Just pick the right day.

The egg box, replace bedding from same access as collecting eggs. Scrape as needed. Water blast on the right days. A dried broke egg can bring ants so thorough cleaning gets rid of them. Keep bedding clean. You will have less breakage and less ants.
 
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A chicken tractor that's also a squirrel trap? Genius!

In a serious vein, if I had squirrel pressure in a chicken-friendly context as I do in my current garden, I would welcome any opportunity to turn squirrel into chicken feed, either directly, or by hanging squirrel corpses from the top of the coop with an upside-down bucket over it for flies and beetles to turn into tasty larvae.

Not a new idea, I know, as North American chickenkeepers have tasked their children with providing extra protein for the chooks through hunting since, well, there were North American chickenkeepers, I would guess.

I love the egg access hatch idea. If you can do it without the hen even knowing, so much the better. And the easy scrape or spray flooring is really well done.

Thanks for the thread. Great pics, and a great design. Party on!

-CK
 
wayne fajkus
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The chickens got their first taste of freedom yesterday and were very leary about it.

Actually, the 1x12 was a slippery slide for them. I added hardware cloth to it, but its not in the pic.
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wayne fajkus
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They made their first voyage away from my house. I put them in shade (temps already past 90f.) They are between my compost pile and cow pen. About 20 yards to either one.

They are ready to go to work on cow patties
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