Friday, October 19, 2007

"Feed Distribution" details

Below are some pictures for John, who wanted to know what was on the other end of the “feed distribution pipe” of our chicken tractors. He wanted to know how the feed is spread out and if the pipes clog up. In addition he had some other questions “what is the size of the black pipe that makes up the hoops? Do you have any wire under the tarp or just the tarp for protection from predators?”

So in case anyone else has similar questions here is my response to John’s questions.

‘The pipes are simply cut off flat like they are at the top. There isn't any means to spread out the feed. It just piles up on the ground and the chickens do all the spreading.

Occasionally, if the chickens seem extra hungry and mob the food I'll take a couple scoops to the other end and throw it in through the door. None of them goes without, in fact when we started butchering these particular birds over the weekend we found they are a little on the fat side.

We have a feed scoop that fits nicely with the 3" pipe. I'll pour in about 10 scoops in the longer unit and about 7 scoops in the shorter (green) one. During rainy or humid days the feed will stick a little in the pipes.

The longer one doesn't have as steep of an angle as the green one since it is not as tall, so that one sticks more. When I first started using them I'd take a stick and push the feed on down but, in time I found that it would slide down by it's self without pushing it if I just let it be. The green one which is taller never stuck up enough to warrant pushing it.

If I build another tractor I'll probably just use a shorter pipe so I can make a steeper angle. What I did with these is I had bought a 10' foot pipe and cut it in half so the pipe on each tractor is 5' long. They are supported by a 2x4 which is mounted cross ways down low. I cut a V in the 2x4's and tied the pipes down with straps so that they would stay centered and not get pushed around by the chickens.

The gray tarped tractor has just the tarp for protection. I new I was pushing my luck by not putting on chicken wire first but, I was in a hurry to get the chickens in it so I took the risk. A coyote or dog could easily tear through it I imagine. If I had put on wire first wouldn't have had to run the tarp all the way end to end. It would be better to have a spot where they could get some direct sun. A sun porch?

We wanted to use fiberglass sheets like we used on the green one but, it cost more than what we had to spend. I think the fiberglass sheets would make a better covering. Stronger and more durable. The green fiberglass we used on the first one was given to us. Couldn’t beat the price on that. We put that one together our first summer here in 1998. It has stood the test of time. It has metal conduit as hoops. Those also were given to us, already bent and everything.

I think the black pipe is 1,1/4". I'll have to measure it to be sure. I have various sized length's of black pipe that I have collected over the years, throw a way’s collected from our trash business. I like working with it as it is light weight and easy to cut.

I ripped long 1 inch boards to bolt long ways to the pipes as stiffeners’ to tighten up the unit. I used carriage bolts going from top down. Didn't want to use hex head bolt’s because I was afraid the edges might wear through the tarp when the tarp is buffeted by the wind.

The Joel Salatin style chicken tractors might be better but, I like to be different. The hoop house seems like a more simple design to me but, then again I’ve never tried to build one like Salatin’s.

Now that half our chickens are butchered the green tractor is empty. I thought I might take some more pictures showing more of the details. Hopefully before the week is over I’ll get a chance to do that so keep checking in. Hope this is helpful.’

View from the back side

View from the front side.

Lynn Bartlett expressed interest in the watering system for her sons so here is my response to Lynn and some pictures of the waterer.

'The automatic fountains we got are the “Little Giant” brand. We ordered them on line through Cutlers Supply at We purchased model 2500, the game bird fountain. It is supposed to water up to 200 birds per bowl. There is a larger one, the 2550, that waters up to 300 birds. I opted for the smaller bowl because I was mounting our bucket low and didn’t want it too close to the ground. If the bottom of the bowl touches anything it interferes with the valve working properly. It’ll just keep on running and drains your bucket. That happened once with ours even with the smaller bowl. I parked it right on a clump of grass and next time I went out they were completely out of water. Boy were those birds thirsty. I had to throw in an extra bucket of water just so they could all get a quick drink.'

Five gallon bucket plumbed to the Little Giant fountain.
The bucket is supported by two 2x4’s and a metal bracket. The metal was scavenged from some junk I had. So was the hanger for the waterer. I always try to use junk I have laying around in most of my projects to keep the cost down.

Close up of Little Giant.

Until Next Time


Blogger John said...

Thank yo very much, that helps a lot. I think your design as a sense of simple elegance. I will probably follow it...

6:18 AM  
Blogger RL said...

Your welcome John. I'm glad it was helpful.


8:03 PM  
Blogger Lynn Bartlett said...

Thanks for answering my questions as well. We just returned from a trip to the Duluth area and I'm finally catching up on blogs. Great that your roadside stand did so well. Wish we could do something like that, but we live on a road that is not very well traveled and probably would not work for us.

8:57 PM  
Blogger RL said...

Your welcome Lynn. Sometimes I wish we lived on a road less traveled, but then I think of making a living and I try to be thankful for even the trucks that make a racket up and down the highway at all hours. I guess there's always a trade off with everything.


3:33 PM  
Blogger Lynn Bartlett said...

It's amazing that we've only lived here for 3 years and since then there have been 2 new homes built on our road. Unfortunately, one of them is just across the road from us. We can't see the house (a former insurance company building hauled out from town) from ours, but it can be viewed all the way down our 1/4 mile driveway. We think it may be a hunting shack since the road in is gated when no one is there. So far we haven't been able to meet the owners. I am hoping the Lord will arrange it so when one of the boys gets married they can purchase it for themselves!

8:36 PM  
Blogger RL said...

It's funny how a thing like that (new house going up) can change the whole atmosphere of a place. One of our neighbors allowed a cell phone tower to go up on his property a while back. We keep hoping a big wind will blow it over. :)

Seems pretty reasonable to think that the Lord might well arrange for one of your boys to get that place some day. I’m sure you’ll be praying that way.


7:54 PM  
Anonymous Christine said...

It's been a LONG time, but I found your post on this chicken tractor, and I'm going to make one just like it- if it's OK with you!!

Your photos and details are wonderful. I have a question- how did you make the hole in the bucket and attach the hose?

It's been so long, I can't remember my pw for blogger!


1:24 PM  
Blogger RL said...

Hi Christine,

I used a 3/4 inch plastic fitting from the hardware store. The fitting has threads (the 3/4 inch part)on one end. The other end is formed so that a hose can be slipped onto it. All I did to the bucket was drill a hole in it and turn the fitting in. However that would not be enough to keep it from leaking so I applied liberal amounts of clear silicone all around the joint between the fitting and the bucket.

Once the hose was attached I did use a hose clamp on the hose but I doubt it would leak without one since it was a fairly tight fit.

I hope this helps.

Oh be my guest, go right ahead and copy anything I post on this blog, if you find it useful. I’m glad to share idea’s. And I’m sure there’s room for improvement if you can think of something that will work better for you. Much of what we do is a work in progress.

Shortly after the new year I was doing some catching up on Herrick Kimball’s blog and I saw that he also uses a hoop style chicken tractor. I can’t remember off hand what month archive to look under but, if you explore his site you might find it. It’s worth taking a look at because he always has creative idea’s on how to do things.


11:16 PM  
Blogger Homestead Herbs said...

Thank you! We just received the new chicks yesterday and the waterer from Cutler's (thanks for the suggestion), so I have to get started on the tractor!

I'll check out Herrick's chicken tractor. I think I might have that filed somewhere- I've been researching this a little!

Thanks again!

11:49 PM  

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