Portable Chicken Coop / Tractor – Nesting Boxes

I cover my initial build of the boxes, including covering the paint trays, for the A-frame here.  As I mention, I really like this type of box.  And to follow-up from my first post, yes the new ISA Brown flock is consistently laying only in the boxes as I had hoped and expected.

The boxes for this coop are completely on the outside of the coop.  This gives me more room on the inside of the coop for roosting and waste/droppings management.  I put the boxes level with the floor.  I’m getting bedding shavings in the trays, which can prevent eggs from rolling down.  I’m not sure if higher tray would fix the issue, but I’m planning to move to a mesh floor without any shaving anyway, so the issue should resolve itself with the new floor.

The dimension of the boxes are mainly to accommodate the paint trays, but I think are good for any box.  I typically do not oversize my boxes, especially in height.  I’ve read that keeping the boxes smaller and shorter discourages “parties” in the boxes that lead to droppings in the box.  So far that’s not been an issue in any of my boxes.  Additionally I use an old table cloth to make a divider to give the hens more privacy, which they really seem to like.

I started by marking the ends according to the blueprints, putting each board on the marks to ensure I had the right dimensions, then cutting out the end shape.  I then cut all the horizontal boards to the proper length.  I used standard 1″ & 2″ sizes and laid out the paint tray on the boards to ensure proper dimensions before I cut them.  The larger floor and roof I used scrap OSB and a an old shelf board I had on hand.

 

I took the roof angles from the ends used them to ripped an angle on the 3 boards that meet the roofs.  I could have just left them square and lowered them to the level of the roof, but I like the way the angle looks.

Then I sat the ends upright and started fastening the horizontal boards to the ends.  I have a staple gun which makes building boxes like this much easier.  It could probably be done without it, but I’ve come to rely on how well the staples work in edges of narrower pieces of wood.

I slid the paint trays in to view the heights.  The 1×6 that I used for the back of the nesting box did not go down as far as I liked.  It gave the chickens too much room to access the bottom of the pan.  I ripped a spare board in half and used it to add to both boxes.

I cut and stapled the center in place.  I have a staple gun which makes building boxes like this much easier.  It could probably be done without it, but I’ve come to rely on how well the staples work in edges of narrower pieces of wood. I also ripped the appropriate angle on the board that covers the egg area so it sits flush on the hinge side, but did not attach it yet.

Next I fastened the boxes to the frame using carriage bolts in the top to hold the weight then wood screws at the bottom to hold the box against the frame.  The frame had a lip that was perfect to rest the box on and use a clam to hold it in place while I fastened it.

 

Finally, I attached the roof sections.  The top one I just stapled down, the bottom one is hinged so t raises for gathering eggs.  Since I used OSB, the top roof has tar paper for now and will get a either shingles or a metal roof.  The bottom roof/door is a 1×8 and will just get stained.

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Portable Chicken Coop / Tractor – The Structure 2

Tires

Several years ago, I said this build has been on my mind for a while, I decided a coop on a trailer should be low to the ground.  Honestly don’t remember why I thought this at the time, but I shared the idea I had for making tires shorter with my father-in-law.  He wasn’t so much interested in the lower trailer, but was very interested in tires that won’t go flat.

So the trailer’s tires he gifted me had been modified for about 2 years.  I give thanks again to my father-in-law not only for all the parts he donated to this project, but for making my job easier.  He already cut the sidewalls off the tires, shortened the remaining tread, and bolted the ends to the rim.  In addition to all this work, the passing of time and trailer use identified a couple areas that needed improvements.

Initially he only bolted the cut tires to the rim in one spot, where the rubber ends met.  A miscalculated in the circumference resulted in the tread being cut too short, hence the extra ad-on pieces you’ll see in the pictures.  The rubber was stretched tight and the edges curved around the rim, so it seemed like the rubber would not drift.  In this picture you see it did drift off the rim.  I added 2 additional fastening points approximately every 120 degrees.

Second, where it was bolted wood pieces were used as spacers.  These rotted and fell apart.  I decided to used foaming insulation instead and becasue I was adding additional bolts, I did it completely around the wheel.

 

Lastly, the rotted wood pointed out that the cupped rubber on the wheel was holding water.  Standing water is not good for the metal rim to sit in.  This I haven’t mitigated yet, but the plan is to cut some holes in the rubber to allow for drainage, and have awnings over the tiers so they don’t get as much rain to begin with.  I overhung the roof in the back to do this, and in the front, I’ll add an awning that will double as an extension for water nipple.

 

Roof

I wanted the roof to overhang in the front and back.  The backside covers the wheel and the nesting boxes.  I added a gutter for additional overhang to divert the rain away from the nesting boxes and for potential for rain catchment later.  As you can see in the picture, the additional length comes in handy in the winter.

The front overhang is to shade the windows in the summer, when the sun is high overhead.  During the cooler/cold seasons when the sun is lower in the sky, it will still shine into the coop for additional passive solar heat.  The overhang also helps with the pulleys for the aviary and to keep the rain off the windows and wheel.

I added a layer of foam board under the roof for insulation.  I’m not concerned with sealing  the coop tight, but I wanted more than a thin roof between the hot sun in the summer and cold in the winter.

Due to timing and budget, I started out with some used scrap roofing I picked up fee for projects.  What I had left was in pretty bad shape and I only intended it to make it through the winter before I replace it with a metal roof.  It didn’t.

Fortunately the high winds that blew off the first roof were from a warm front.  This at least providing me with a some above freezing temperatures as I replaced it with a metal roof.   I was going to special order a blue metal roof to coordinate with the blue frame, but when you need it today, you take what’s in stock at the hardware store.

 

Color

The final basic item for the build is the color.  Everything I’ve built since we move out here has been grey with green roof and trim.  This matches the house.  But as I mentioned, the trailer frame was previously blue and nearly screamed at me to be blue again.  Additionally, I didn’t have any grey stain on hand and had already spent more than my budget for the first phase of this project.

As I was fretting over the color change, I happened to watch this double-decker bus conversion video and at 12:10 the interviewer says “It’s green!”  and the builder’s reply was “It was going to be blue, but now it’s green”, basically because he’s made due.  I have white stain and white and blue go great together, so it was going to be grey, but now it’ll be white.

Additionally a white coop makes me think of it as a symbol of Captain Ahab’s white whale. In the last several years, chickens have certainly been my “white whale”.  I’ve also nicknamed the coop the Pequod.  Not sure it’s going to stick, but I tried.

Finally, It goes against my upbringing to build without properly protecting the wood with stain, but I was limited by time and warm weather.  I settled for staining the trim and pieces that were going to overlap, so I wouldn’t have to take them apart later.   Hence why I went with white and why you see some white stripes on the ends.

 

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