A Chicken Tractor

A couple of weeks ago Andy and I built a chicken tractor and I LOVE it! A chicken tractor is just a moveable coop. I got the idea from listening to the Growing Farms podcast, he raises meat birds and has much fancier tractors than I built. I just built a small version because I wasn’t planning on having a lot of birds.

There are many advantages to using a chicken tractor. Here are a few of my favorites:

  1. Chickens can graze and still be protected from predators.
  2. You can control where your chickens are grazing.
  3. Your chickens will dig and scratch up areas you choose, working their poop into the ground in the process, which is basically free nitrogen fertilizer!
  4. You don’t have to clean a coop!

But pretty much #4 is my all time favorite. Less poop for me to clean up is always a good thing. I probably deal with cleaning poop much more than any normal person…the joys of animals and a baby! Also when you study animal nutrition, poop is just unavoidable.

Anyways, moving on…

How to build a super simple chicken tractor

I based my design off of the chicken tractors from the podcast I mentioned above and combined that idea with an idea I saw for a greenhouse. I chose do build one this way just based on materials we already had. I didn’t buy anything for this chicken tractor.

First, we made the base frame out of 2×4’s.

Chicken tractor

Then, I arched cattle panel from one side to the other and secured it with staples. This way, I had minimal building and let the cattle panel create the frame.

Securing the cattle panel

Next we attached the cattle panel to the ends with wire so the whole thing was enclosed.  Grinding the pannel

This handy tool is called a grinder. It was perfect for this job! I’m so glad Andy owns every tool I will ever need. This made cutting the panel a breeze, I even cut some and didn’t hurt myself. Andy frequently tells me that OSHA exists for people like me. I may have injured myself once or twice {or a million times} during all of the projects we have done. Whenever I get hurt he just looks at me and says, “OSHA.” Ha!

The grinder

I found some old roofing in one of our outbuildings and attached it to one half of the tractor so the chickens would have a place to get out of the elements. {I do have a stall in my barn that was used for a chicken coop so if things get really nasty I can move them inside.} I also attached chicken wire to the whole tractor so that it will keep critters out and bantam chickens in! I attached some of it with twist ties {yes, like the twist ties that come on bread} because I couldn’t find the zip ties. My reasoning was that they are basically just small pieces of wire and would work just as well! Although Andy agreed that was true, he brought me some zip ties to use just in case the twist ties didn’t hold up. What a smart guy. So when it was all said and done, everything on the frame we connected with wire, everything we attached to the frame was done with zip ties. And a few twist ties. Hey. They worked.

Attaching the roof

We got to that point and then the baby needed to be done outside so we halted until the next weekend. Then I was really smart and got a hen before the chicken tractor was done. I’m just awesome. Andy drilled holes in the top of a large Rubbermaid container and put some straw in the bottom – the perfect hen transporter!

Chicken carrier

Poppy was pretty certain we were unaware that something was alive inside the container while were finishing up the tractor. She laid there and worriedly whined at us the entire time. Thanks, Poppy.

Poppy waiting

98% of the time when I want to do a project, I know exactly how the finished product will look, I know exactly what to make it out of, and I know exactly how much it will cost us. What I don’t usually know is how to put together all the materials together to get my finished product. Ha. So I tell Andy my idea and then he assumes his thinking stance {see photo below} for a few minutes. Or a lot of minutes. Depending on the scope of my idea. What I told him here was that I wanted to use food storage buckets for the laying boxes with the lids facing out so I could just open the lids and grab the eggs.

Andy's thinking face

Well since Andy is basically the king of stuff like this, he figured it out. We trimmed the cattle panel and the chicken wire to have an opening large enough for access to the bucket. He then cut the bottoms of the buckets out leaving a small lip. {See this photo for an example, I forgot to take a picture of that part}.

Laying boxes

Then he drilled holes in the outside corners of the buckets and used zip ties to attach them. He attached wire from the bucket handle back to the tractor to hold the buckets up when the hens got inside them. And yes. That bucket says Penne pasta.

Attaching the laying boxes

Meanwhile, Abram was being adorable. He usually plays or sleeps in his pack and play outside while we work. He is a good baby! Usually we can get in a couple hours before he needs something.

Abram while we work

Here is the finished product!

All set up

Andy also rigged up a sweet pulley system for the water. I wanted it off the ground so it would stay cleaner.

Water on a pulley

Turtle the cat just really loves friends. I have one little partridge wyandotte bantam hen right now named Mrs. Bennett {think Pride and Prejudice} and have arrangements to acquire 3 more this week. Originally I wanted 2 or 3 hens but animals just seem to find me….

Turtle loves friends

Um and then this happened. Soooooo 7 chickens is close to 2 or 3…right?

3 Little chicks


Andy is not impressed with my math skills at the moment.

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    Raising Chickens for Eggs • Longbourn Farm
    March 23, 2017 at 9:19 AM […] When I first got chickens, I kept them in a chicken tractor. A chicken tractor is basically just a moveable coop with an open bottom. It allows chickens to graze and eat bugs while still keeping them safe and contained. You move the tractor regularly to supply them with an area that is clean and ready to be grazed. Mine was a pretty simple design, you can read the tutorial I wrote about how we built it by clicking here! […]
  • Reply
    March 27, 2015 at 12:29 PM It is basic chicken math! Coop looks good!
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