A recent wind storm turned our chicken tractor into a kite, throwing it 30′ away.
All the birds were OK, just wondering where their roof went. I retrieved my son from school early, bought the largest fishing nets we could find, and tracked down our birds wandering around the pasture before the daily sundown coyote pack visit.
Chicken Tractor Version 1.0 was damaged enough to warrant building an entirely new portable coop. So I broke out the long list of change ideas I had been collecting and designed a new tractor.
-Aesthetics (for us and neighbors)
-Wind management for entire coop + nest boxes
-Weight for daily movement
-Manageable trap door and access to nest boxes for my kids
- Flat roof. There are zero flat areas in my back yard, so a flat roof will still shed rain well since the entire coop is always at an angle. The new flat roof allowed me to get away from tarps, which never stay tight nor look attractive for long.
- Solar electric fence to replace the hardware mesh skirt. The skirt *is* effective against coyotes; we’ve found their scat right next to the coop several times. But it catches on the pasture grass and makes daily movement of the tractor difficult for my wife.
- Horizontal access door (replacing a vertical accessible hatch). You can see it in the accompanying photo, held in place by carabiner lock bungee cords to thwart the raccoons. See additional detail photos in the nearby photostream. The nest buckets are bolted to this door, which keep s them upright even in strong wind. My seven year old can lift off this panel to retrieve the eggs by himself. With the nest buckets secured, we can use straw rather than sand in the base, which makes for much cleaner eggs.
- 4′ additional roost space with 100% of it under roof. Old design only had 8′ of roost space with 2′ open to the sky (rain).
Suggestions for your own efforts:
- Do a dry fit before applying pipe cement and drilling holes.
- Remember overall lengths increase when adding fittings by about 1”. Adjust your pipe lengths accordingly.
- I considered using cattle panels, but at 36 lbs for every 50″ x 16′ section, they would add too much weight. Same for wood versus water pipe. Weight considerations drove a lot of our decisions.
- Corrugated plastic roof panels
- Bolts to secure panels (2″ with wide washers and locknuts)
- Silicon to make drill holes for bolts waterproof
- Water pipe (1″ schedule 40)
- Pipe fittings (esoteric ones here)
- Chicken wire (2′ roll)
- Solar electric fence
- 17 gauge wire for electric fence
- 14″ screwdriver to act as a ground for electric fence
- Zip ties (lots and lots)
- Pull ropes with clamp-on end hooks
- Ground stakes used for dogs to secure coop in high wind