Are you a homesteader, farmer, or hobby farmer who’s raising chickens? The chicken tractor is a must-have. It’s a cheap agricultural upgrade that is beneficial to both you and your flock. You can fertilize your soil, control slug and insect pests, provide access to food at all times to your chickens, keep them safe from predators, and avoid damage to the rest of your yard or your neighbours’ property.
Every day or two, you move your chicken tractor across the field to constantly change the grass and vegetation your birds eat. They leaving nutrient-rich manure behind as they go, fertilizing your field.
There are lots of chicken tractor plans available online for small or big flocks built with anything from recycled materials to new wood and painted with pretty colours or left in their natural condition.
Not sure how where to start with a chicken tractor? Here are few tips to help you choose a design when building your own.
What are the basic components of a chicken tractor?
The basic structure of a chicken tractor consists of the coop and the run. The coop can be a square box that has sufficient space to house your hens. Large fowl need 4 sq. ft./bird and bantams 2 sq. ft./bird. You could crowd more birds in, but that would encourage anti-social behaviours that will be hard to break and may lead to flock injuries.
If you live in an area with very hot summers, make sure your design has enough shade available in the coop, along with ventilation.
How should I make the floor of the coop?
In many chicken tractor plans, the floor of the coop is the ground itself. Chickens poop mostly at night, and it can be deposited straight onto the ground. However, some people prefer a solid base to the coop you can lock the hens up at night and keep them safe from a bear or raccoon.
When moving an open-bottom tractor, the hens need to get used to moving with the coop and it usually only takes a couple of moves before they get the hang of it. With a fully enclosed coop, you can pick everything up and move it easily.
How should I make the run/pen area?
Your run needs to be large enough to accommodate large fowl with at least 8 sq. ft./bird and bantams 4 sq. ft./bird, but more room is always better. The run also needs to be tall enough so you can hang out the feeder and drinker where the hens can’t poop in them (on the ground).
What size should I make the chicken tractor?
Plan the size of your chicken tractor based on the number of hens and how much space they need (as described above). For example, 4 large hens will need 4 sq. ft of space each in the coop, so you will need 16 sq. ft of floor space. That could be designed as a square box that is 4 ft. x 4 ft.
How easy should it be to move the chicken tractor?
Tractors should to be sturdy and well built, which usually means that are quite heavy to move. A 4 x 4 coop box and a run may not sound large, but if you are pulling or pushing it, it will be quite heavy, especially up or down slopes.
Almost all tractor plans have wheels or can be hitched up to a small tractor or a utility vehicle. In practice, these tractors will move similar to a wheelbarrow, a rickshaw, or with real or mechanical horsepower.
If you prefer a more lightweight design, you will need to have some way to anchor it into place. Wind storms and large predators may be able to flip or dismantle a lightweight tractor made from materials like PVC pipe and chicken wire.