Housing Poultry

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Housing Poultry

Post by Okie on August 9th 2008, 8:54 am

How do you house your poultry?
Before I started keeping seperate pure breeds, I had a couple of pens and a small shed that served as housing. Now I use tractors for most of my poultry. I have I think 8 tractors now. I have built them all and each one is different from the others. I was worried about wintering in the tractors, but I had no problems last Winter. When the weather got bad, I grouped the tractors together to help protect each other, then tarped them good. I had me a little shanty town on the site of my Spring Garden. The hay I put in the tractors was composted down just right by the time I needed to till that area for Garden. It worked out so well that I plan to do the same again this year. If the weather turns especially bad, I will run an extention cord and use heat lamps. Smile
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Re: Housing Poultry

Post by Admin on August 9th 2008, 4:34 pm

ours stay in the barn, if we have really young ones, we put them all in a spare goat pen and put up heat lamps
thats about all we do, nothing special

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Re: Housing Poultry

Post by Okie on August 9th 2008, 6:07 pm

That sounds great unless you have several breeds and want to keep them seperate. Smile
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Re: Housing Poultry

Post by Admin on August 9th 2008, 9:39 pm

that is true lol

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Re: Housing Poultry

Post by Deb on August 10th 2008, 3:28 am

Okie...I am getting ready to build mine (hopefully, fingers crossed). Which one of yours do you like best and why?

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Re: Housing Poultry

Post by Okie on August 10th 2008, 9:48 am

Well, Deb, I think it depends on what chickens I am wanting to put in them as to which one I like the best. The last ones I made are super light weight. In fact the last one is so light I don't even have wheels on it. I used 2x4 welded wire and Cane that grows in my fence line. It will be great for smaller birds like silkies, Millies or Polish. The canes I used for roosts won't hold the weight of big birds like Cornish or Marans. Here is a picture of the next to the last one I made. It now has a pair of Hatch game chickens in it. I have two or three pullets that will join them when they get a little older.


I used a tarp for the top covering, a milk crate for the nest box, empty plastic coffee cans for feeder and waterer and an empty baby formula can for oyster shells.

I have a tractor that is 8'x8' that is perfect for putting a bunch of growers in. I made a flat top without thinking about rain collecting in it. Up until last week there have been birds in it. I will do some reworking before I put more in it.
I have three that are made close enough alike that I guess they are my favorites. They to have flat tops, but the wire stays tight enough that the rain runs off when they are sitting on an incline in my yard. The frame is made of 2x2s and the sides and top are 2x4 welded wire. Here is a picture of one before I put the tarp across the top. It is easy to get to the nest box and very easy to maneuver around the yard. I have wheels from little red wagons, Lawn Mowers, old kid toys and just about anything else that had wheels around here. This tractor is a 5'x8' and about 3' tall. It will house a dozen standard sized birds easily if they are moved to new grazing daily.
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Re: Housing Poultry

Post by Admin on August 10th 2008, 10:43 am

hey! I love that last pic now that is a cute pullet
and I love how you dod your chicken tractors a neat idea

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Re: Housing Poultry

Post by Okie on August 10th 2008, 4:03 pm

That little pullet is Grandma's shadow. She is quit a little gal. LOL

I was thinking that I better let folks know that these tractors are inside a fenced yard with two Great Pyrenees protectors to keep the boogers away. They would not be safe for poultry that had no protection unless smaller holed wire was used. I would probably make a tractor big enough that it would only need to be moved every third day or so and fix a way to stake the tractor in place if I were to have them where coons or coyotes could get to them.
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Re: Housing Poultry

Post by tree68 on August 10th 2008, 11:32 pm

i did make three tractors with handles made six inches longer on both ends for lifting... 6 x 3 x 3 ft - very handy for mothers with babies using half inch chicken wire... unfortunately got broken with all the rough shifting by others. plus the netting i bought at a sale rusted Sad

i had used 1" x 1" garden sticks apparently not strong enough to withstand shifting. I would use strong bamboo tied together with strong nylon string next time - i believe one can weather treat bamboo somehow.Smile maybe good idea to use galvanised netting (if poss) and corrugated galv (sp? iron for the roof maybe extend it over half of the pen for shade and rain shelter
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Re: Housing Poultry

Post by Okie on August 11th 2008, 1:07 am

Wheels make a big difference on how much strain is put on the tractor during moving. And how much strain is put on the mover to. LOL
I have a messed up back. My tractors have to be easy to move, or they don't move for me. Very Happy
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Re: Housing Poultry

Post by tree68 on August 11th 2008, 1:39 am

aha i didn't mention wheels because i dont know how to attach wheels to the cage Embarassed

i also like tractor to be flush with ground as well. true having wheels is alot easier for everyone to move it... Very Happy
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Re: Housing Poultry

Post by Okie on August 11th 2008, 9:29 am

All of my wheels are attached to the tractor and stay in place. I was talking to another guy who uses wheels, but the way he did it was different. He attached another board to the up and down braces on one end. This board is cut across and hinged, about a foot from the ground. The hinge lets the bottom part of the board fold up against the leg of the tractor. A wheel is attached to this movable part of the bottom of the board. When you need to move the tractor, you lift the tractor enough that the board with the wheel can be straight down and latched into place. You wheel the tractor where you want it, unlatch the folding board and lift the wheel up against the side. The wheel allows easy mobility, but the tractor sits flat on the ground when it is stationary.
I hope I described that well enough for you to visualize it. Smile
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Re: Housing Poultry

Post by Deb on August 11th 2008, 10:17 am

Thanks for the pics and your take on what works for you. It's helpful to have first hand conversation regarding this and that when it comes to tractors. I only need/want one...so, I better do it right the first time then. Mine will be a bit beefier, as I want it to stand the passage of time. I will put the large cart wheels on it to make it move effortlessly through the grass for me. And, like you, mine will be inside a fenced yard with a protector running around, and I will also be inside the city limits...so our predators here are limited down to just a few...rather than what comes down out of the mountains.

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Re: Housing Poultry

Post by Okie on August 11th 2008, 11:57 am

Two things to remember. The beefier, the heavier and the bigger the wheels, the easier it is to move. Smile
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Re: Housing Poultry

Post by Deb on August 11th 2008, 9:32 pm

LOL, I know, that is why there are gonna be some good tires on mine. I want the tractor heavy enough to withstand an 'honest' dog getting into the yard and past Grizz. Ok, so that is like going to be near impossible to happen...but....

My plans thus far are hardware cloth for the sides, a hog panel for the bottom (cut to fit of course), and a galvanized roof. The house portion and frame will be made out of trex, so that it doesn't rot.

It's all figured out as far as what to use...just...what do I want it to look like when it is done. This is going to be the tractor of tractors to last well into my old age. I only want to do it once.

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Re: Housing Poultry

Post by Okie on August 12th 2008, 12:15 am

Several of my tractors aren't much to look at, but they do what I need them to and that is what matters to me. I use junk I salvage for most of mine. Someday when the chickens are making me rich, I may buy all new materials, make new tractors and do away with my junkers, but chances are I would just keep the junkers and fill them with more chickens. LOL
I have a tractor that uses 8' pieces of hog panel for the sides and a 4' piece of hog panel for the front.8' cattle panel for the top. The panels are covered with 1" poultry wire. The back of mine is made of wire, but you could use plywood and cut a door that hinged like I did in the one I posted. One single 2x4 across the back of the tractor is all that is needed to attach the wheels. The way I attach wheels is like this. I put a 2x4 flat under the corner of the tractor. Then I put my wheel up and mark where the center of the wheel is on the tractor board. I usually use lawn mower wheels, so a 2x4 on the bottom is about right for the axle. I drill a pilot hole a little smaller and shallower than my hex screw is. I usually use 1/2 or 9/16 hex screws that are 7" long. I put a big washer one the screw, then the wheel and then a couple more washers to act as a spacer to keep the wheel from rubbing against the side of the tractor. I ratchet it down fairly tight, but loose enough to allow the wheel to turn. I will look in the morning to see if I have pictures of my hog panel tractor and a a close up of a wheel.
It is easy to move the tractor too fast and run one of the inhabitants down. I have caught several legs and have ended up killing two. That is with no bottom wire, just the sides. I can understand the security factor of having wire on the bottom, but unless you have an area with a solid bottom that you latch them into, you are gonna have problems moving the tractor without hurting your chickens unless you do it at night. That would be dangerous for you and there is always the chance a chicken will fall off the roost while the tractor was moving.
I have seen some tractors that were more or less little covered trailers, that contained the roosts and nests, with a seperate run that attached to the trailer, but is moved separately. Something like that may work for what you are describing. I think I have a picture or a site saved that shows quite a few tractors. This has been one of those days that seemed to last a week. I am just too tired to look for pictures and links tonight. Smile
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Re: Housing Poultry

Post by Deb on August 12th 2008, 3:08 am

I think I have found most of the sites that have pics of tractors. But it is nice to get the first hand knowledge and experience from the different types. What you did or did not like about each one.

I too have been down the road of salvaged materials and make-shift this and that. That was ok out on the farm where everyone was locked up tight at night. But now that I am newly single and going to be living in the city limits, next to a city park no less, the more attractive the less the complaints???? Well, that's my hope at least. It is legal to have chooks in the city, but complaints have been made by neighbors who felt that the make-shift just didn't look proper and devalued the properties around them. Silly...but...I am not one for confrontation so I try to make the best of each situation.

The house I am buying is surrounded by City park on the side and back. The other side has a row of 4 townhomes, which hopefully will be pretty much blocked by the greenhouse. Across the street from me will be houses, but they are set lower as I am at the top of the hill. My view will be their roof tops, the span of the city below and then the lake.

I'm also one of those anal perfectionists and an artist, so pleasing to the eye is a must. I will never be able to have more than 5 hens at a time, so one tractor is all I will ever need. I will have a little hen hospital in the garage, with a door to the dog kennel which will probably never see a dog. And in the winter, the kennel will be the 'outside' run to the chooks winter home....hopefully a section of greenhouse.

I would love a pic of your favorite wheel set up. I had thought of some big beefy tires back where the handles are, and stationary. Then having some of those pivoting wheels for the front to help turn and guide it. With you using yours, would you like that or would you find it cumbersome?

The floor will have the wire and I will move the chooks after they go to bed or just before I let them out. They will have a door that will be closed at night. I don't trust ferrel cats and racoons. We do get the occasional coyote (usually rabid though) in town. And every year it seems there is a report of a black bear wandering downtown. So, even in the city I am not completely out of the great expanse of wilderness all around us. To me they are my girls. I have never had the attitude that they are just chickens. They serve me well (with egg production and entertainment) and I serve them well by giving them the best possible home I can give them and full, happy bellies.

My hardest bit is how to keep the rotation of stock going with only being allowed 5 hens. I suppose get three the first year and then one every other year and wait till I have a death in the family to get a new one. I don't mind if they are past their prime and no longer laying well...they laid well to begin with and that is all that matters. They can live out their life being fat and sassy. I just want to make sure I can have at least one egg every other day at a bare minimum....lol.

This was all so much easier on 10 acres and a huge barn that would hold up to 300 free range, organic ladies and the few, very happy, gents.

I have the money to do it right this time, so I might as well make it the best that I can.

Hope this all makes sense. I know I seem picky, but if you knew my past...when I say this time is my time/turn to have it right, you would fully understand. I have kind of earned this right of passage, but not through monetary measures.

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Re: Housing Poultry

Post by Okie on August 12th 2008, 10:00 am

I understand about having them in town with close neighbors that will see the tractors. I would be just like you in wanting to have a pretty tractor with feathered family in it. Some of my chickens are just chickens. But most quickly become pets. I try not to get attached to them until I see if they are roosters or hens, but that doesn't always happen. Smile
As for the wheels on front and back. Yes, if the tractor is heavy, front wheels would be like a God send.
The largest wheels I have used are off a little red wagon. I am guessing they are 8" across. I have an old 10 speed bike that I have been eying the wheels on, but haven't done anything with them yet.
I have a tractor that is about 5'x8'. The back is wood and corrugated barn tin. The roof is corrugated tin also.
That tractor is one heavy booger to move. I had a two wheel dolly I had borrowed from a friend. I used to get it under the front of the tractor in order to move it. I had to give the dolly back, so now my daughter helps me when I move it further than a couple of feet. I will either be removing the wood and tin on back and replacing with wire and a tarp, or I will move the door down from the corner and attach front wheels. I will probably attach stationary wheels on front if I go that route.
I saw another person with several tractors use a contraption that I have been thinking of building. It was a handle for pulling attached to wheels. It had a guide that the front of the tractor would sit in. He would lift the front of a tractor, put this wheeled handle under it and pull the tractor where he want, then take the handled wheels out and take them to the next tractor to be moved. It was a neat contraption. Smile
I am not concerned about the looks of my tractors. We have 3/4 acres or 6 lots that are completely surrounded by shrubs and vines, so we are the only ones that see them, and they are back behind my husbands koi ponds which have bamboo blocking the tractors from out site until we walk around there. With three grandkids, we have all kinds of kid stuff all over the yard and a jungle gym to one side. So the well manicured look is defiantly not what we have going on here. It is more the well loved and lived in look.
ROFL, Jeff Foxworthy would love our yard.

What kind of chickens are you thinking of getting? Were it me and I was wanting an egg or two all year, I would have different breeds.
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Re: Housing Poultry

Post by Deb on August 12th 2008, 10:21 am

The sound of your yard sounds much more enjoyable than mine. I miss the days of stubbing my toes on kids toys, stepping barefoot on army men, etc. But...being as how I will be 'in' the park, I guess I should make things pretty and work at it a bit.

The bicycle tires sound interesting...lol. That's gonna be one heck of a tractor to warrant them. Pics please when that one is all done!

I figured I would have one of each of my favorites. One cochin, one braham, one faverolle, one barred rock and then the 5th one...hmmmm....I don't know yet. Something exotic looking yet not flighty. I want large breeds as they are less likely to be high strung (or so I have found from experience). I wouldn't mind a serama or two...as two would equal one large one, right? lol.

Then, after I get my chooks all set up, it's time to talk dovecotes. I think it would be lovely to have some doves playing around the yard and park. But...just how much bird poo do I wish to deal with?????

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Re: Housing Poultry

Post by Admin on August 12th 2008, 11:59 am

Deb wrote:Something exotic looking yet not flighty.
ahem lol what about a silkie:D

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Re: Housing Poultry

Post by Okie on August 12th 2008, 11:28 pm

Seramas aren't gonna give you much of an egg. LOL You would do just as well with your doves for egg size. hehe
If you want a small chicken that lays a big egg and has all kinds of personality, try a Polish. Those things are the sweetest little silly things there is. I posted a picture of one of my young Polish roosters on another forum. A gal said he looked like Tina Turner. My daughter and I now call the poor boy Tina. What do you think? Does he have a Tina Turner look?
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Re: Housing Poultry

Post by Okie on August 12th 2008, 11:29 pm

Here are some of his ladies.


They are still young pullets and will get a nice tail eventually. Smile
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Re: Housing Poultry

Post by Okie on August 12th 2008, 11:32 pm

Admin wrote:
Deb wrote:Something exotic looking yet not flighty.
ahem lol what about a silkie:D

Here you go.Smile
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Re: Housing Poultry

Post by Deb on August 13th 2008, 12:57 am

Ladies...if you keep this up, I will be pushing a dozen or so!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

5 I am ONLY going to have FIVE! LOL

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Re: Housing Poultry

Post by Okie on August 13th 2008, 8:51 am

Now are you sure it is only 5? Or is it 5 in each tractor?
LOL
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