Sunday, January 30, 2011

Chicken Tractors: Version 2 with Assembly Process: Pt1

I set out to streamline the first tractor to make it more manageable, sized to accommodate stock supplies and be less wind prone.  I have 3 of this model now, each with slight improvements.  There are several changes I'll discuss in later postings when I review some of the daily observations using chicken tractors in garden beds, tree and grass areas

As with the first design I start with a load of better quality 2" x 4" x 10' pine studs.  I cut at least 8 pieces 32" and assemble the horizontal frames as follows, allowing 6" excess at each end:





Chicken tractor assembly:  Main frames assembled




Chicken tractor assembly:  Upper frame and main frames
 The dividers create an approximately 4' box and the smaller section mimics this exactly.

I then cut the vertical legs 5' long for the roost side (4) and 2' long for the run side(2).

The base height is 2' governed by the 2' verticals and ultimately by the 2' height of the hardware cloth/fencing I'll use for the caging material.  The goal is to do as little cutting and fitting as possible.

The placement of the larger verticals are governed by the roost box divider, with the lower one simply serving as reinforcement and a stop for the ramp to keep it off the ground.

Chicken tractor assembly:  Verticals installation



Here some of the 'girls' inspect the initial assembly and discuss future furniture and locations.  You'll notice some additional cross pieces in place for the roost and siding nailers, as well as the simple center roof nailers that give a slight pitch to the metal roofing, and also allow small song birds to enter in the winter.  Sorry, I won't have exact dimensions for everything at the moment, and with the weather and season, I won't get these updated until later.



The 'girls' mentioned that I've used 3 2-1/2" exterior screws at each fasten site in a triangular pattern.

Chicken tractor assembly:  The girls provide engineering tips and criticism



I install a divider for the ramp at 12" and then divide the remaining space again with additional 32" cross pieces, and fasten 1/4" hardware cloth using washered stainless steel screws.  I used heavy black tape to cover the rough edge of the hardware cloth that borders the leading edge adjacent to the ramp.

Chicken tractor assembly:  Ramp opening and coop floor screen edging

Chicken tractor assembly:  The coop floor installed

Chicken tractor assembly:  Coop floor and roost support details

Chicken tractor assembly:  Coop details

 I install a divider for the ramp at 12" and then divide the remaining space again with additional 32" cross pieces, and fasten 1/4" hardware cloth using washered stainless steel screws.  I used heavy black tape to cover the rough edge of the hardware cloth that borders the leading edge adjacent to the ramp.

Chicken tractor assembly:  Roost assembled

Chicken tractor assembly:  Roost detail

The roost steps are limited to a lower level.  I've found that if too high, the rooster will roost on the upper level and his comb will get frostbite from overnight contact to the metal roof.  I'm considering a method of insulating the roof currently.

Next is the ramp assembly and installation:

Chicken tractor assembly:  Ramp assembly.  3/4" exterior CDX plywood and scrap 1x2's, with a larger scrap for the ramp pull to pass through.

Chicken tractor assembly:  The ramp is installed with simple hinges

3/4" exterior grade plywood was used on this one.  It's weathered already from being used somewhere else.  It's cut oversize to the opening to overlap at least 1" on all sides except the hinge side.  The step blocks are 1" short of the opening each side, so they don't interfere with closing the ramp flush at night.  The lower block is to reinforce the pull rope that will pass through via a hole drilled into it.  These are all attached with 1-5/8" exterior or drywall screws.  The blocks are miscellaneous barn wood scraps.

The hinges are simple 1-1/2" narrow hinges for the ramp:

Chicken tractor assembly:  Ramp hinge details

Following are the details at the upper nest box and upper door divider:


Chicken tractor assembly:  Nest box details

Chicken tractor assembly:  Nest box details

I added a 1/2" plywood platform to keep debris from the lower nest area:

Chicken tractor assembly:  Upper nest box base installed

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