Saturday, May 21, 2011

Building the Chicken Tractor part 2 of 2

The last post finished with something like “it’s close to being finished.”  Ha.  After building things for many years I should learn not to say things like that.  It’s never close to being finished until it’s done.  Here’s  the completion of the chicken tractor, complete with chickens:
The rest of the chicken wire was stapled on.  For this I used an air compressor and pneumatic stapler – a real timesaver for a tedious job.  The little chicken door at one end was attached with some small hinges.  Then it was time to take the pen off the sawhorses and put on the metal siding, which is attached with special screws that have a rubber washer.  The siding was left over from the pole barn and some other projects.  That’s why there are three different colors of metal siding on this pen.  Although most of the pictures of chicken tractors I have looked at don’t show any covering on the sides, I wanted to give the birds a place at one end that offers some protection from storms.  

Then it was time to make the roof.  Before starting the roof I concluded that the top of the frame needed a crosspiece to rigidify the structure, so I cut a 2x2 the same length as the end 2x2 and fastened it with screws from the top siderails (Note that much of the design I’m making up as I go). The lid, which was built earlier (pic in previous post) was set on top of the pen and attached with two hinges.  Then the metal siding (I guess it can be called roofing at this point) was put on. 

After putting two pieces of siding on the lid the battery in the cordless screwdriver needed recharging, and of course the spare battery was also dead.  I began thinking about a prop to hold the lid open.  A scrap of cedar 1x3 was notched at one end to seat on the top rail, and the other end was screwed to the lid.  Then I realized that the lid needed some protection from a gust of wind lifting it and flipping it over.  I found two rubber stretch cords gathering dust in a minibarn.  Each cord was hooked to an eyebolt in the frame and the lid so it was under slight tension when the prop was in place.  A hasp was put on and a wood handle fastened to the lid.

With the drill battery recharged the last piece of siding was attached to the lid.  I needed a predator proof lock on the chicken door.  Scrounging around the workshop I found some PVC conduit and also some fasteners for attaching conduit or pipe to framing.  Without getting into too much detail, the conduit slides through the fasteners on either side of the door and prevents it from opening.  I’m hoping that no raccoon is clever enough to figure this device out. 
To move the pen two eyebolts were attached to the bottom rail and a length of rope tied to them so the pen can be lifted up and pulled.   I added a second cross member at the top of the frame, that way the waterer and the feeder can each be hung from the top with some distance between them.   I screwed on a dowel near the bottom so the chickens can roost.  The pen was pulled into the yard and the wheels removed.  With the wheels off it was not difficult to drag it over grass to it’s first spot.  Finally I picked up the brooder box with chickens, set it in the pen and turned it on its side:
I think they like their new home.


Anonymous said...

That's a good looking tractor. How do you cut the metal siding?

Will the tractor fit over your garden beds in the off season?

gardenvariety-hoosier said...

Henbogle, I cut the siding the wrong way- with a circular saw and an old carbide tip blade. A plywood blade is better. Special tools are better still but I couldn't justify the expense. The roof panels were already cut to 4' widths. The tractor width is right to fit over a bed, but I'm only going to raise one batch of broilers this year then dismantle and store the tractor.

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