Tommie Hockett

Welding up a new chicken tractor

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Well we woke up this morning to the awesome sound of rain! So I quickly donned my rain gear and ran out to check on the animals and button the pens down so the animals weren't getting pelted. Anyway so I had no more came inside and poured a cup of coffee when Chellie told me there was a chicken out. So I went and looked and the rain had collected on the roof of my 2 month old chicken tractor that my step son  and I had welded up out of 1/2 emt conduit, so much so that it collapsed.... so we pulled it back up with my truck. The truck cannot move until I get another one built hahaha. So anyway there are a few upsides to this one we got some much needed rain. Two I was home when this happened. Three I have a bunch of schedule 40 1.5 inch pipe that was for a different project but got repurposed for this one. So today I made record time and completely welded up a new chicken tractor the only thing left is the wheels and to put the tarp and wire on it. This one will be a tad bit smaller at 15ft x 10ft. These my friends are the joys of farm life and I got to tell yall I wouldn't want it any other way. Oh and another thing all of our welds with the exception of 2 held up!!! The water was just too much for the conduit to hold. I will post pictures tomorrow. I would take some now but its dark and you wouldn't be able to see much.

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I didnt know chickens could drive a tractor, how many acres can they plow in a day?

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1 hour ago, Steve Sells said:

I didnt know chickens could drive a tractor, how many acres can they plow in a day?

Ha! Well it depends on how many chickens you got. :D

The reason they call it a tractor is because the chickens disturb the top inch or two of soil and they fertilize it. You are supposed to move it every day, but my other one was big enough that I only had to move it every other day. 

Well here is the progress so for. Hopefully these pictures aren't too large, I don't know how to resize. Just dont zoom in on the welds and excuse the mess haha

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2 hours ago, Tommie Hockett said:

The reason they call it a tractor is because the chickens disturb the top inch or two of soil and they fertilize it. You are supposed to move it every day, but my other one was big enough that I only had to move it every other day. 

Ah, I was wondering how lazy your chickens are that you need a tractor to get them to move.

One tip about making a tarp roof. Water ALWAYS finds a low spot to pool and tends to collapse tarp tent roofs. So, rather than putting a tall point in the center put one on the high side and plan a channel for runoff. 

Frosty The Lucky.

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Stock pannels arched work very well. My chicken runs have taken 12” base branches split out of a choke cherry falling on them. 

As panels are 16x4’6”, 16’ tarps fit real well (as do shade tarps). At the cost of chicken wire, shade tarps are cost effective (so are horse pannels). 

An 8’ base gives you just enugh head room to stand upright in the middle.  

The same set up makes pig tractors as well as animal and other shelters. 

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Yeah the tent pole in the middle came after it collapsed. I tried to make a sloping roof but there just wasn't enough support so I added an awesome drainage system that apparently didn't work^_^. Charles your tractors look a lot like my old ones. Mine had more wood on them though and were rediculously hard to move. Here is a pic of the one before the collapse and drainage system.

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If you cut down your damaged one and make up a steel frame 8’ wide and any multiple of 4’. door frames and center suport would be pretty light. Don’t have to worry about the rain collapsing another one. 

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1 hour ago, Tommie Hockett said:

so I added an awesome drainage system that apparently didn't work^_^.

Need to rethink your definition of awesome Tommie? 

Ditto Charles experience with stock or in our case Ranch Panels. They ROCK for tarp tent support in rain, snow and high wind country.

DANG can't find pics showing my old tarp tent shop, that's the second time in two days I can't find old pics on my machine! ARGHHH!:(

Anyway, I had covered work space off the front and side of the Connex supported by lumber roofed by ranch panels and blue tarps. It didn't start leaking until I started pulling ranch panels off it after the shop was weathered in.

Frosty The Lucky.

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23 hours ago, Charles R. Stevens said:

If you cut down your damaged one and make up a steel frame 8’ wide and any multiple of 4’. door frames and center suport would be pretty light. Don’t have to worry about the rain collapsing another one. 

Yep I was thinking the exact same thing. Maybe a little different... How would you do the roof. I do have some goat panels, they are like cattle panels but smaller squares. Maybe I could put those on top with some bracing...

 

23 hours ago, Frosty said:

Need to rethink your definition of awesome Tommie? 

Frosty The Lucky.

Frosty I am telling you it was amazing, epic and awesome all rolled into one. However I didn't get them into the right spot to work properly. Anyway we got the other one completed... ish there is more work to be done on it like adding more support for the tarp and making real nest boxes. They have five gallon buckets to lay in at the moment which works but its hard to gather eggs. You have to crawl under the roosts to get to them..... pics or it didn't happen

So I can't get pictures to upload signal is spotty today will work on that here in a bit

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I looked back to see what size you're building, if you bump it up to 16' x 12' +/- depending on the width of the panels you have, you want some overlap for strength. I'd build a shed the roof with 3 panels, low side into the prevailing wind. You don't need to worry about snow load so 6" of fall would be plenty to shed rain. 

I've done this so many times it almost doesn't take much thinking. The only tricky thing for you to contend with is making it strong enough to drag around but that's not a big thing. 

Frosty The Lucky.

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Well I am working with the existing frame. It was 15x15. So I cut all the bad stuff off. I have a slope of 1 ft it will be 15 ft wide on the tall side and 12ft long on the side. And I have enough usable stuff to make it 11 ft on the back side. I wish I could get a dadgum picture to upload so I could draw it out. Not sure how many panels I have... 3 I think but I am going to have to tear down one of the old tractors to find out for sure. I am going to strengthen it with square tubing.

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Sheep & goat panels are just more expensive. I have already ran the numbers and horse pannels are acualy cheaper than catlenpanels and chicken wire (chicks go threw the stuff anyway so you either have to get 1/2” avian wire or hardware cloth the bottom 1’) if you want to keep the 15x15’ footprint you can overlap a couple of squares and wire it up to make a 31’ panel, or switch to the 8’ footprint. Bending them 90d will give you a much stronger Gothic arch (with a bit more head room). 

Another option is trampoline frames. One frame gives you two 14’ arches with 7’ centers. 

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I normally go to this site and check the activity page to see if there is something that interests me. The site has been  invaluable when it comes to setting up a forge and many other things.

I never thought there would useful info on chicken coops and had never contemplated such a thing as a "chicken tractor" !  My daughter has been asking for a couple months for me to help her convert and old shed to a chicken coop and build a run for them.  But I have been selfishly spending all my free time building a NARB forge and working on getting a Bradley 200 compact running. It is time that I get started helping with her project.

Charles I really liked the idea of using the panels as an arched enclosure , I had all ready planned on using panel for the run and had been thinking about how to frame the structure . It will definitely  be arched , I will probably make a frame at the bottom out of some old rusty angle iron that i saved from goin to the scrap yard. I may even make it mobil. The new mobil home for the "yard bird"

David

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60% Sade cloth tarps come in 8x16 at harbor freight. Cheaper than chicken wire and will give the birds shade. I think the have 12x16 silver tarps as well. 

Lots of great minds hang out on Glenn’s vertural front porch, honest to god experts in almost any field you can imagine. Ask and you will receive ansers. 

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We used graduated ranch panels so the kids couldn't get through them. Even so I had to string chicken wire around the pens, the little dickens actively tried to get through and like most critters if they can get their heads through the rest will fit. IIRC they are 54" x 16' and a 6" overlap secured with fence ties makes a strong sub roof. The one on my tarp tent "shop" in front of the connex lasted till the wood post and beam started to give out. 

David: IFI has some 50,000 members all over the planet, someone is going to have an answer to most any question or know who to ask. This is the best block party on Earth. ;)

Frosty The Lucky.

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Allrighty then I'm back. Although I am currently in El Reno Ok at the moment so no work will get done for a few days but on the upside I have full signal. Anyway so I think I have an idea on the roof using arched panels. I already have the goat and sheep variety on hand. Also as far as tarping goes I have a llllllooootttt of that on hand as well. I work at a place that makes reinforced  vinyl containments for the oil fields. So any time there is a scrap piece they let me take it home. And scraps for them can be huge. Also I have a lot of 70% shade cloth on hand. There is a golf tournament down by dallas that gives the stuff away every year, they post it on craigs list.... Hello my name is Tommie and I have a hoarding problem:D.

 

So anyway i am going to measure the widest end of the tractor and cut the panel about a foot longer than that so it will arch when I put it in. Hold on for pictures. 

First 2 pictures are of the completed one. Still needs a few things but should be ok until the weekend. The next picture is of the collapsed one. It doesnt look quite as bad as I thought it would. 80% of it was salvageable. And the next one is what I am planning to do to fix it if you can make heads or tales out of my drawing. Frosty please go easy I can read blueprints but I'm not so great at drawing them haha

 

Howdy David I see that you are in Texas!!! As Frosty said there are a lot of smart people on here. And they have an answer for just about anything you could ask. 

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Hey Tommie. Good looking chicken tractor. I've never built one but maybe one day.

What's in the cages in the back ground?

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We have coons and possums that I am sure would like a tasty chicken dinner. I was thinking of using 4"x4" panel at first but now think 2"x4" would be better to keep out the chicken thieves.

I would probably still need to put some poultry net mesh on the bottom to keep chicks in. A local fence place has 5'x20' panels with a 2"x4" pattern which should make a good size run.

 

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El Reno; hopefully not at the Fed Barry place!  I used heavily treated canvas used for wind wings on drilling rigs for the "leathers" for my double lunged bellows. Don't  know if I could recommend it; only lasted a bit more than 20 years...and was almost free as it was "drops"  from the place that did canvas rig work in OKC.

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That's a lot of rabbits if you are breeding them. I have 6 does. My buck died last week. I'm looking for a buck now.

I had mine in cages off the ground until about 4 weeks ago. When I had my surgery I decided to get rid of my quail so I made a rabbit colony in my quail pen. It's 10x30 so plenty of room.

I been wanting to see how they fair on the ground.

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We had more, but narrowed them down some. We do sell them, but last seasons sales were not good. We think the market is flooded. We had nearly 70 babies last season and over half went to the freezer because they didn't sell. We have always had them above ground like they are now, so I don't have any experience with that to share with you

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50 minutes ago, ThomasPowers said:

El Reno; hopefully not at the Fed Barry place!  

Nope sitting at the man camp off of 81 at the moment. Gonna do some work for XTO tomorrow near weatherford and then I will be south bound and down headed back home. 

 

Randy I have a buck and I will even give him to you if you make the drive all the way from Alabama :lol:

 

David as Randy said 2x4 is a good size but if you do put some stuff on the bottom I found some black plastic mesh stuff from tractor supply that seems to work good and it was cheap too so thats a bonus

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Another good tarp item are the old billboard vinyls. Some places sell them, some give them away. I have seen billboards that were up for around 10 years and they were only faded. Here near Las Vegas there are so many events that some are only up for a month before being changed out. The ones that I have seen for sale were around $50, which is far better than the one season blues that size- which is huge, and heavy.

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