Preferred roofs for chicken tractors : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread

If this has been addressed before, forgive me because I cannot find it. I have ordered Pastured Poultry Profits and have read You Can Farm by Joel Salatin. I have also read Chicken Tractor by Andy Lee. Andy Lee uses that plastic stuff that you can see through somewhat and says Joel Salatin uses the tin roofing. Andy Lee claims it is too hot for the tin roofing. I have mixed feelings but am leaning toward the tin as it is cheaper. I looked at the plastic stuff though and I think it would last forever.

I am interested in your experiences with either one. We are currently using tarps because that is what we had, but they are driving me crazy!

-- Lynn (, July 30, 2001


Lynn, We orginally went with plastic roofing panels purchased at Home Depot. They did not last. The sunlight just disintegrated them after a couple years. It was not cheap but we replaced it with aluminum roofing panels. I like the metal and the aluminum is cooler and lighter weight than tin.

-- Mel Carroll (, July 30, 2001.

The plastic stuff you get at home depot or other "home improvement" superstores is not suitable material for this use. It is not UV stabilized, and it isn't very sturdy.

What you want is WOVEN POLYETHYLENE. Lightweight, UV stabilized, rip-proof, long-lasting. I have a source for it, but I'm not home right now. Will try to remember to find the address and post it tomorrow when I get home.

-- Sojourner (notime4@summer.spam), July 30, 2001.

I currently have three different chicken tractors and have used three different materials. My tractors are small as I only keep the chickens for eggs and don't raise a large number in any tractor. On the oldest one I bought the aforementioned plastic roofing from Lowes hardware. I didn't get the clear as I thought that would not create enough shade. Instead I bought the white. It has been there through three summers and two mountain winters and is still fine. I have just put together a new tractor with a piece of heavy steel roof and the chicken and guinea keets in it are doing fine. I think a most important part of the equation is to leave enough area free of roof altogether that air movement can move any overheated air from under the roof area. The third tractor is actually an instant pen that I threw together three summers ago when my wife surprised me with new chickens. Initially I had a tarp over that one but as it blew out I left the blue insulation board that I use to retain heat in the winters on top. This has worked remarkably well. You can't put your roost too near the top, though, as the chickens will eat through blue board in no time if they are close enough to it. One inch thick insulation board goes for about the price of half-inch plywood and I've never seen it rot... Good luck with your chicken tractors and let us know how it goes...

-- gilly (, July 30, 2001.

We like to use Templast. A 4x8 sheet is approx. $10 Canadian. It is light and durable. We used the white. It looks like corrugated cardboard but is plastic. We used roof screws with attached washers to attach it.

-- Cindy Clarke (, July 30, 2001.

Hey, dont go all out for expensive roofing. I simply wrapped the entire chicken tractor in chicken wire, and encased the one end's sides and roof in a lightweight green tarp I picked up for 10 bucks at walmart. Very lightweight; easy to move. Is holding up wonderfully.

-- daffodyllady (, July 30, 2001.

OK, here's the source for the woven polyethylene. BTW, you can use this stuff for all sorts of things, from tarps to greenhouses. I plan on using it for the greenhouse I'll be building on the south side of the house. It's easily removed, so I can take it down in the summer and put it back up when it starts to get chilly (avoids overheating in the summer).

Northern Greenhouse Sales
Box 42
Neche, ND 58265

(204) 327-5540

-- Sojourner (notime4@summer.spam), July 31, 2001.

One warning re chicken wire - it's about useless to keep predators out. Almost anything can rip through chicken wire in nothing flat. People I know who use it successfully combine it with guard animals and electric scare wires around the chicken tractors.

I'm going to try lightweight tractors made out of UV stabilized PVC pipe (cross braced well), covered in the woven PE. There's a woven PE that's silver on one side and black on the other. I plan on putting the silver side out in summer (to reflect and cut down on heat) and the black side out in winter (to absorb and heat up when its cold out). These things'll be so lightweight they're liable to blow away so I'll anchor them with U-shaped pieces of rebar (I have a farm jack I can use to pull them out when its time to move). Have to drive them in with a sledgehammer. These things'll be so lightweight I shouldn't have any trouble dragging them, but if I do, I'll probably use old bicycle wheels with quick disconnects - slap the wheels on when its time to move, then pull them back off when the movings over.

There are two ways to do this, and I haven't decided which way is "best" so I'll probably try both and see how it works. One is to make a big "traditional" tractor, which will require hardware cloth sides and scare wires to keep predators out, and may be hard to make sturdy enough out of PVC, even with plenty of crossbracing. The other is to make a much smaller "tractor" that will serve only as a bad weather shelter and "moving time" portable corral, surround this much smaller tractor with electrified poultry netting, and let the chickens "free range" around the shelter inside the poultry netting.

-- Sojourner (notime4@summer.spam), July 31, 2001.

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