warmth/size of chicken tractor and what are hoop houses!?

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We can relate to perfectionistic tendencies. It isn't so much that we want to be perfect, we just don't want to have to redo it again. It takes a while sometimes. So, now the 8 chickens and three ducks (who all live together and have for four months) are in the back of my summer kitchen. I want them out of there because it is too hard to keep clean, and it is supposed to eventually be my studio for my loom and spinning equipment and GUESTS! who really don't fit into our house. The longer the foul fiends are in there, the less likely I am to get my space for me!


1.) I know a woman who has kept her ducks and chickens together for ages....some folks think they need to be separate. Pros and cons, please. We aren't having any problem. The ducks rule the roost.

2.) We only want want building, and live in SW Wisconsin, the land of milk and honey as well as cheese. We only really want one building project now. We keep debating chicken tractor to proper coop, but want it to work year round. From the threads I read from the past, I only saw one woman mention using her tractor year round in the cold areas. Last winter we had some 30 below nights! Could we do a tractor for this? And, A.) should we don't laugh) insulate it and B.) should it be bigger than I have read others suggest due to wanting to use it year round.

3.) And how much room and light make them happy? I keep reading that everyone has different notions. The fact is, I let them out to free range everyday when I am out with them, and it gives the ducks (adorable mallards) time to fly and swim in our LOVELY satellite dish pond (I got one two days after reading the last Countryside--the duckies are happy and the bees love it for water!) and they don't wander far, pretty much going back when I put lead them back. Please feel free to laugh, but they are my buddies. I sometimes sit in the coop with them and they roost on me to get scratched (cracks my husband up who just doesn't get this animal thing). I will definitely worry about them all winter, temperature and roomwise. I like my birds happy, and will miss watching them play, and sort of like the notion of a building for them just so i can sit in there, but would prefer them to have fresh grass to scratch in so they can be outdoors as much as possible.

5.) Then, we have plans for a greenhouse down the road, and have thought of having a coop attached to this for more space for the birds in the winter, so they can run around when it is too cold for plants to grow out there. Anyone doing this?

6.) Lastly, what is a hoophouse, folks?

Thanks for your ideas/suggestions.

-- marcee king (thathope@mwt.net), July 15, 2001


Ahoophouse is basicly a temporary over winter shelter, constructed of low cost material to shield livestock and equipment from weather shaped like a quonset hut. Typically built of pvc pipe or livestock panels and covered with a waterproof tarp; rounded top and low straight sides; placed over a future garden site.

-- mitch hearn (moopups1@aol.com), July 15, 2001.

I've used a self-designed chicken tractor for seveal years. I use it throughout the year - summer and winter. Last year we have wind- chill in the 30 below range. I have never lost a chicken to cold - although I have lost some to the heat. (100+ in the summer) In the winter I do lose some eggs because they freeze and break but my plans are to continue useing the tractor.

-- Tom S. (trdsshepard@yahoo.com), July 16, 2001.

Marcee, post your question at "The Poultry Connection, General Waterfowl Forum ". Lots of specialists re chickens and ducks there. I don't like keeping my ducks with chickens simply because I don't like the lice and mites and internal parasites that chickens carry. so, don't want my ducks to get this stuff. That's why a lot of us keep ducks for eggs instead of chickens(plus ducks lay more and larger eggs per year than chickens). Another thing is, ducks require lower protein food with more greens and NO MEDICATIONS in it. I guess it's just a matter of preference. I keep my ducks in a duckhouse (welded wire and wood), secure against predators at night, and like you, let them out to free range during the day on our meadow and in the pond. They are fun aren't they?

-- Little Quacker (carouselxing@juno.com), July 16, 2001.

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