Right off the bat, many people that clicked on this link are probably asking themselves right off the bat: What is a chicken tractor?
Well, fellow farmer, you should count your blessings as you have finely stumbled upon our little guide over here which is meant to educate the masses on what a chicken tractor is and how you can build one for yourself.
In this short article we will also be displaying what the benefits of having a chicken tractor are and why you’d even want one to begin with.
While it may seem like a bit of a no brainer, we should start this off with a relatively simple definition of what it is and more specifically of why you’d ever need one to begin with.
- What is a Chicken Tractor?
- The Basic Components of the Chicken Tractor
- The Benefits to a Chicken Tractor
- 1. Never Use Heavy Materials
- 2. Look for The Best Deals
- 3. Try to Have Fun When Designing It
- 4. Use Old / Unused Materials
- 5. Use a Sunshade Cloth
- 6. Get a Roost Bar
- 7. Get a Tractor That Can Pull the Coop Around
- 8. Don’t Listen to Anyone’s Opinion as Far as the Design Goes
- 9. Don’t Be Afraid to Go DIY
- 10. Anchor Your Chicken Tractor
- 11. Paint Your Chicken Tractor
- 12. Don’t Stick to Just One Design
- 13. Raise the Roof Above Your Garden Beds
- 14. Use Pallets to Save Money
- 15. Don’t Forget to Always Have Food and Water Available
What is a Chicken Tractor?
In simple terms, a chicken tractor is basically just a mobile home which serves as the “all inclusive” house of the chicken. It’s a portable chicken coop that you can travel around with when you need to move them from place to place with ease.
In it you’ll find everything that the chicken will ever need, including the food, water, a proper roosting perch and of course, the nesting box that they all need.
Things get a big more interesting when we actually get into the components that constitute the chicken tractor itself. But alas, let’s get right into that segment of our guide:
The Basic Components of the Chicken Tractor
Essentially, a chicken tractor can be separated into the following two components:
- The Coop
- The Run
The coop is exactly what it sounds like, it’s just the little box that you will be keeping your chicken in. Getting the materials for this part is not that hard, what is hard however is the actual planning that goes into it.
As you can already tell, your chicken needs a certain amount of space to run around in to actually live in that coop. So, when designing your coop, you’ll need to give each and every chicken the required space it needs to move around in.
For example, a large fowl needs around 4sq.ft. per bird, but if we’re talking about a different bird altogether such as the bantams, you will need a different measurement which in this case is around 2sq.ft. per bird.
Sure, you can roughly estimate the size of the coop but we highly recommend you spend extra time on this step because you don’t want there to be too little space for them. Some birds can be very anti-social and they can even attack and take each other out if you’re not careful.
When it comes to the floor of the coop, we highly recommend that you go for a solid base as opposed to not having a base to begin with. This is because if a wild predator comes charging at the coop, even if they smack it around a lot the chicken will live through it. But if you don’t have the security of a floor then they’ll be at the mercy of the predator the moment they tip the coop over.
When it comes to the run though you’ll need to make sure that the size of it is perfect to accommodate the chicken. To calculate the size per bird, just take the numbers you were meddling with before and double them.
For example, if a large fowl took around 4sq.ft per bird then go for 8sq.ft per bird this time around and so on and so forth.
Also, be sure to remember to make the run tall enough so that your chicken can’t just jump over it and so that you can place a feeder and a drinker at the top where they can reach it with ease.
The Benefits to a Chicken Tractor
First and foremost, the main reason as to why you’d ever want to own a chicken tractor is to make sure that your chickens are safe. As much as we’d like to say that simply keeping them out freely, where they can just run around through the grass, is safe for them, it’s not.
They can literally be taken out within 10 minutes or less, and they can also run around to your nearest and most precious flower bed and completely destroy it in less than a minute.
They’re pretty much pests when it comes to running around freely, they’ll find the best veggies in the area and rampage all over there to make sure that there’s nothing left. Plus, they spread around little poop patties which are not as cute as they sound.
Since the coop has a top, you will also get the benefit of protecting your hens from aerial predators such as owls or even the occasional hawk. Remember, it’d take them less than a second to ravage your chicken coop, so don’t take any chances.
Last but not least, we have the added benefit of free lawn services. Chicken are known for taking extremely good care of the grass and the weeds, literally foraging the whole place in a matter of hours for free. They’re great at taking care of insects too, and of course, since they drop down little poop patties everywhere they’re pretty much fertilizing your whole area for free.
Just make sure that you move around the tractor every now and then, if they sit around on the same spot for a couple of days, they can end up completely erasing any semblance of greenery off the ground, leaving you with plenty of bald patches to deal with. And that’s just mentioning the basics, there are plenty of other benefits to having a chicken tractor.
But for now, let’s give this part of our presentation a break and instead focus on the part that many of you are here for, aka the 15 tips on how to build a chicken tractor for yourself:
1. Never Use Heavy Materials
Although this may sound like a no brainer to most, there are still a lot of people out there that don’t realize the fact that the main reason as to why you want to have a chicken tractor is so that you can move it around.
Using sturdy and practically impregnable materials, while good for their protection, can also really make your experience all the worse by simply making the mobile coop hard to move around.
So, make sure that you always weigh your tractor up before you actually start building it, it’ll save you a lot of time and effort down the line.
2. Look for The Best Deals
As tedious as it can be, you can actually save a lot of money when constructing your chicken tractor by simply using cheaper second-hand materials that are still great regardless of how old they are.
You can actually get the whole thing going for less than $200, just get yourself some timber and hardware from Lowes for example.
Use untreated beams for the frame of the coop and most importantly, don’t forget about the cedar panels that will go to the side of them. As for the roofing, just go to the nearest salvage yard and get your items straight from there.
3. Try to Have Fun When Designing It
As silly as it may sound, adding a little bit of personality to the tractor will actually make the whole process so much more enjoyable on the long run.
For example, turn the boring old look of the coop into a beautiful tiny house on wheels that you can carry your chicken around in. The sky’s the limit as far as the creativity goes here, just do whatever you find to be funny, cute or both.
4. Use Old / Unused Materials
Stuff like old bicycles for example might be completely useless to you for riding around on them, but you can quickly turn those wheels into a useful part of your coop with a little bit of imagination.
Just make sure that you use light materials for the frame so that the wheels can actually still work underneath all that weight. You wouldn’t want them to break when you’re out on the field now would you?
5. Use a Sunshade Cloth
When the sun is scorching hot, you’ll be running for cover as soon as possible, but since your chicken are all in the coop, they don’t have that luxury. So, just to make sure that they don’t get overexposed to the sunlight by adding in a sunshade cloth at the top of your coop.
We recommend that you make it so that you can roll the cloth up and down for when it’s needed and when an ordinary roof is needed. This can end up saving a lot of chicken lives, a lot more than you’d think. So, just make sure that they’re properly chilly during the peak of the summer.
6. Get a Roost Bar
We all know that roosters love to run around and jump as high as possible to get the best leverage they can get, which is why it’s pretty much just a match made in heaven right off the bat to get them a roost bar.
A roost bar will actually cost you less than $50 in total and, if it’s a good high quality roost bar, it should be able to easily hold up to 6 big chickens on it.
7. Get a Tractor That Can Pull the Coop Around
This is a common mistake that a lot of people don’t realize they’re making. Essentially, the heavier the coop is, the harder it will be for the tractor to pull it.
So, even if you want over a hundred chickens on your farm, remember that you will need a lot more room for that amount and in turn you’ll also need to spend a lot more money on the tractor to make sure you can even move them around to begin with.
8. Don’t Listen to Anyone’s Opinion as Far as the Design Goes
Many people act like there is only one or two proper ways to build a chicken tractor which actually couldn’t be farther from the truth. In actuality, as far as the design goes, you can go all out on what you personally find to be the best choice out there.
Whether you want to make it seem like a small house, a car, or if you want to just go for a traditional coop style, remember that you won’t ever have to settle for anything other than what you prefer.
Chickens never actually care about the corners; they don’t care if they’re square or if the wood’s second hand. Go all out, choose whatever you want.
9. Don’t Be Afraid to Go DIY
There are so many amazing DIY chicken tractor designs out there that we’ve pretty much lost count by now. You have so many options and the best thing about it is that you can also come up with your very own design too at the end of the day.
This means that building your very own chicken tractor is not just supported, but also recommended in most cases. If you have a knack for building your own stuff or if you just want to add some extra personality to your coop just do it DIY.
10. Anchor Your Chicken Tractor
This is a direct advice tailored for those that want a lightweight tractor. Remember, the more lightweight it gets, the easier it will be to be flipped around, whether that is by predators or the wind itself.
Make sure this doesn’t happen by anchoring it to the ground.
11. Paint Your Chicken Tractor
Many people believe that painting your chicken tractor is just something you do to give it more style, but in actuality it does tend to help a lot against the sun, the wind and of course, the rain that can really take a chunk of your chickens’ lives away.
So, just remember that painting it is very cheap but it can save a lot of lives in the process.
12. Don’t Stick to Just One Design
A great part about the tractor is that it’s not stuck on just one design pallet all throughout the years. You can actually easily just repaint it and change some materials around to give it a brand-new look.
Just make sure that the chickens are still safe inside and you can go for anything you want. You can use chicken wire for example instead of hardware cloth, you can paint it a different color or you can make it sturdier because you saw how damaging the winds can be.
13. Raise the Roof Above Your Garden Beds
As mentioned previously, the chickens are great at fertilizing the ground, which is why many use them to fertilize their garden beds. But if you want to make this whole process even easier to deal with then you can simply elevate the roof and make it so that the poop falls right on the garden bed.
This will make your job so much easier and it’ll help your garden beds grow at an exponential level. On top of that it’s a win-win situation since the chicken end up eating all the tasty bugs they can catch and you get the aforementioned fertilizer for free.
14. Use Pallets to Save Money
Pallets, on top of being very versatile and easy to use, are also extremely cheap to come by. You can get yourself just a single pallet and you can basically saw it off into completing your dream chicken tractor right then and there.
We also recommend using a tarp for the shade, that works perfectly with the pallets. You can also reuse pallets a lot of the time, so they’re exceptionally useful for you regardless of what you use them for.
15. Don’t Forget to Always Have Food and Water Available
Many new chicken owners out there actually forget the most important part when designing their chicken tractor and that is their food and water systems.
You will need to take it into consideration and make sure that they are suspended up from the ceiling so that they don’t end up stepping or pooping over them at any time.
So, there you have it, a direct guide on what a chicken tractor is and most importantly, what you need to know when building one for yourself.
It’s a relatively simple process, about as simple as they get, but there are still plenty of ins and outs that you need to keep in mind as you build this portable home for your new feathery babies.
Remember to always care for them and while we do recommend sparing the expenses by using cheaper materials, we don’t recommend doing half the job for half the price. Either make sure that your chickens are safe or don’t do this to begin with. Trust us, you don’t want to lose your chickens because you didn’t