I built a chicken tractor - cheap

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Prompted by my growing flock of Black Australorps, and the need to seperate genders at two monthes of age (another question in and of itself) I've been checking out info on chicken tractors (aka portable coops). Luckily, I found a 24" X 40" crate frame in good condition in a local dumpster. So after fishing it out, buying five 8' 2x2's, 24' of chicken wire, and a bunch of u-shaped nails, I set to work. (total cost thus far $17) To these new supplies, I add several board ends left over from the neighbors deck, two 2' 2x4's, a bunch of leftover barn nails, and a 48" x 48" piece of medium weight metal sheet.

I started by covering three sides of the crate with boards, to make a building with a low door on one end. I also add a few supports for later nests, and one 40" roost inside my new hen house. To each side of the open end of my crate turned house I nail four pieces of 2x2 cut to 5'. Two at the bottom, and two 2' higher. Next, I nail two 40" pieces of 2x2 to the ends of the 5' 2x2's, and add 2' 2x4's inside for additional future support. This I cover top and sides with chicken wire, leaving the bottom open for the pen. Now I have a 5' long, 2' high, 40" wide fenced yard open to the little house, with no roof yet. I next add my piece of metal to the top of the house, using two holes on edge of it to bailing wire it to two u-shape nails, which allows me to flip the roof open to feed and water inside the little house (which comes with a floor, by the way).

At this point, I did go purchase two 3' wheeled castors and screwed these into the bottom of the little house, which allows us to pick up the other end (fenced yard section) by the top frame, and drag our little house around, with the little black pullets (I hope) running around safe and secure on the inside.

Yeah!! (Now how do I be sure I sexed the two month olds correctly??)

-- Marty (Mrs.Puck@Excite.com), May 07, 2001


Marty, Your project sounds like it turned out great for you! Congratulations! We are in the thinking stage of putting together some sort of chicken tractor or temporary coop out by the garden. We just got 25 (plus 2 extras) barred rocks from McMurray's. They are a week old and already flying about. Today we rigged a "day" pen for them in the garden out of t-posts, 1" chicken wire and some bales of straw. The bales made a three sided protected area with a board for the top. It is too chilly and they are too young to be out all night.

As for sexing the 2months old....Wait and See!

It is my theory that the cockerels grow their tail and wing feathers at a faster rate and their combs seem more pronounced even at one week old. I've been thinking of testing this by separating them by who has tail feathers already to see if I'm right but then that means having Another place to keep chicks and more food and water to keep filled Aaack!

-- Heather in MD (heathergorden@hotmail.com), May 07, 2001.

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