chicken ark / coopdiminium

We've built a portable chicken tractor (I prefer the more commonly euro term chicken ark; tractor sounds a little too industrial) to house 12 chicks and 3 turkey chicks. They are about 4 weeks old and getting along smashingly. The ark is framed with 2x2's all ripped from various salvage 2x material and sheathed in salvaged corrugated tin. Our only material cost was new poultry wire and a few hinges; we had plenty of old rusty wire but this new stuff is vinyl coated in a nice dark green color that goes away visually and has fewer sharp points. Two vintage tricycle wheels
(borrowed from our junk gazebo) at one end and a handle to lift at the other provides portability. We scoot it around every other day or so once the chicks have cleaned and fertilized the 4' x 8' footprint of the enclosure. Unlike most other designs we've seen with a coop at one end, I built the coop all down one side and completely elevated to provide more ground area and plenty of shade from the central Texas sun. The ramp up the back side lets them access the coop at night. We've been having to encourage them up to the roost at sundown every night but they are catching on, and come daylight they all come parading down by themselves cheeping for food and water. A popular place seems to be the perch under the coop that also holds up the end of the ramp, they hang out up there under the shade of the house above and scope out the action below for grasshopper activity. A gate on the pen side near the coop door lets Jeree change the water and two large doors on the front gives easy access to 12 nests inside to harvest eggs once they start laying. We don't expect to keep all 12 full grown chickens as layers, they came unsexed so we're not sure yet just how many hens or roosters we've got. We'll deal with harvesting and thinning the flock in a couple of months but expect the place will be plenty big enough for 8 or so full grown birds. The turkeys are just in the ark for their protection now and will be free range soon enough, supposedly the turkeys will not tolerate the chickens when they get bigger. So far their personalities seem to be that the turkeys are more clever and adventurous than the chickens despite all the stories we hear about how stupid the turkeys are. The chickens will be free range when full grown too but just like Motel 6, we'll leave the door open for them to roost.

It's no accident that the design is very similar to our own house design with the pen on the back reflecting the screened in porch. The house shape was derived from vernacular sheds (and chicken coops) with a one way sloping roof to gather breezes and provide natural ventilation, provide shade where it is needed most and to harvest rainwater most efficiently with a single straight gutter along the back edge. 

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