2011 - Volume #35, Issue #4, Page #10[ Sample Stories From This Issue | List of All Stories In This Issue | Print this story | Read this issue]
Trampolines Make Nifty Mobile Chicken Pens
It turned out so well he made a second one with a few upgrades to make it completely self contained. His 20 hens can scratch in new grass every day, help themselves to feed in the feeder, lay eggs in one of six nesting boxes, and climb into a roosting box at night.
Spillers recommends using heavy-duty wheels. The small steel wheels he first used didn't roll very well when the ground was soft. Four 6-in. castor wheels attached to the bottom of the trampoline frame work real well, he says.
He left the best half of the trampoline's tarp on for shade and covered the other half with 1-in. chicken wire. He also attached chicken wire around the sides with plastic zip ties, leaving openings for a nesting box made of 1-in. sq. tubing and 1/2-in. plywood and for the entrance to the roosting box.
The roosting box detaches and moves separately, Spillers says. But the nesting box is screwed to the trampoline frame. It has sheet metal over the top for extra shade and a top lid for easy access to the nests to gather eggs, clean and add pine chips. He also has a lid on the roosting box so he can hose it out and fill the feeder.
To deter pets and predators, Spillers ran solar-powered hot tape around the bottom. Though it can get windy in Elk City, Okla., cement blocks next to the wheels are enough to hold the coop in place.
"My biggest concern is having fresh grass for the chickens, so I move it every day," he says.
The chickens have improved the lawn, killing weeds and contributing fertilizer.
"I don't have to mow," Spillers says. "They are an earth-friendly lawn mower, and you get some eggs out of the deal too."
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Pat Spillers, 1201 S. Van Buren Ave., Elk City, Okla. 73644 (ph 580 225-0692; firstname.lastname@example.org).
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