Wednesday, May 1, 2013

PVC Hoop Chicken Tractors

PVC Hoop Chicken Tractor with Automatic Waterer
I finally put the finishing touches on the newest chicken tractors. As with all of the others, these are a definite improvement over the two that I built last year. One of last year's was super sturdy, but must weigh 300 lbs, and is very difficult to move. I've started just calling it "The Tank". It is our brooder tractor. The other was very large (20ft L x 14ft W x 7ft H) and very light for its size, but was not very sturdy (Hoop Coop). That one has been placed in a permanent spot and the turkeys live there now. The new hoop tractors are both sturdy enough to hold up to being moved AND are light enough to move around easily by myself! The main change I have made to these other than the size, as opposed to the turkey hoop coop, is that I added a wooden "spine" to it and thus had to place the doors to the side rather than in the middle. This adds so much more stability! The turkey hoop coop has a pvc "spine" and keeps trying to collapse like an accordion. I need to add a wooden one to it in the near future to stabilize it.

The new hoop tractors are also fairly large (10ft L x 6ft W). The main issue I have found thus far is that they are just a tiny bit shorter than I would like. I'm tall, and they are just high enough to make it impossible to walk in bent over so I have to bend and crouch, which results in more of a waddle than a walk. The chickens seem to be really enjoying them! I have separated the roosters into one and the hens (as well as the st. run silkies, and the 3 emergency brooder babies who are smaller than the rest, 2 of which are roosters) into the other. There are around 21 chickens in each one. They are not super predator proof, as I only used chicken wire on the bottom and deer netting on the top. I built the large hoop coop the same way. I keep them close to the house, though, and so far I haven't had a problem. The dogs do a pretty good job chasing most animals off, and alerting me to the rest. Honestly, other peoples' dogs have been my biggest problem and they can get through almost anything if they want to badly enough.

Moving the chicken tractor made easy with PVC
 I move them at least once, by try for twice, a day. They are pretty light so moving them sideways is simple. I have attached a short rope to each end and just lift and slide one end over, and then do the same to the other. Moving them backward or forward is a bit more difficult when just dragging with the rope. Luckily, when moving "The Tank" around I figured out a trick. Watching all of those documentaries came in handy! Ancient peoples used logs to roll heavy stones to where they needed them. That is how the druids built Stonehenge and the ancient Egyptians built the pyramids. I use large width PVC instead of logs, but the idea is the same. Just pry the coop up, stick PVC under it in a few places, roll the coop, and when a piece pops out the back take it around and put it back in front. It was really difficult for Brad, Keegan, and myself, to move "The Tank" together by lifting or dragging, but I can move it by myself by rolling it! These coops just take a piece on either side, and only to make my life easier. I have dragged them from one end of the yard to the other by hand, but I didn't like the blisters the rope gave me.
The lil' ladies' new automatic waterer
Close-up of the automatic waterer fittings

The newest addition to the new chicken tractors are the automatic waterers. I built a wooden frame onto the top to hold the bucket securely when I am moving the coop. I put it in the front so that I can easily dump and clean the bowl. The bucket being on top allows gravity to provide the pressure for the water flow. I added a quick disconnect and shut off valve to allow me to easily remove the bucket and clean it. It really isn't needed though, as this type of waterer already has a quick disconnect which stops water flow, at the bowl. It is so much easier to fill the 5 gallon bucket once every day or two, than refilling waterers at least twice a day and then worrying about them being out of water. It has already been getting pretty hot and the summer's heat is really going to be dangerous. I like that I can add ice to the buckets to cool the water when it gets really hot, as well.

The tractors have been in service for about 2 weeks and the waterers for 2 days. I am very happy with them so far. Hopefully they will stand the test of time.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for sharing with the Clever Chicks Blog Hop this week!

    Kathy Shea Mormino
    The Chicken Chick