Chicken Tractor

A chicken tractor is a portable enclosure used to move chickens around the yard. Our chicken tractor is not a housing unit, but some tractors can be built to house chickens. Ours is essentially a mobile playpen for use during the day.

A chicken tractor is a portable enclosure used to move chickens around the yard. Our chicken tractor is not a housing unit, but some tractors can be built to house chickens. Ours is essentially a mobile playpen for use during the day.

As a change of scenery for non-free range chickens:
As a change of scenery for non-free range chickens


My Original Plan
At the time we built our tractor, we weren’t planning to let our flock free-range but did want them to have the nutritional benefit and mental stimulation of foraging in the grass. I didn’t want the chickens destroying our annuals and garden, pooping everywhere or roaming into the neighbor’s yard.

 As a maternity ward for mama hen and her chicks:
As a maternity ward for mama hen and her chicks

The Reality
I changed my mind and decided to let the chickens free-range. The tractor quickly began serving many unintended purposes. Surprisingly, the girlz stay out of the neighbors’ yards. They did destroy some annuals and made a salad bar of my hostas, but I can live with that. The poop? I just clean up after them regularly. No biggie.

As a play-pen for adolescent chicks being slowly integrated into the flock.
As a play-pen for adolescent chicks being slowly integrated into the flock

Uses for a chicken tractor:

As a time-out for broody hens that need to be ‘broken,’  or a step-down unit for injured birds on the mend. Finally, as a training facility for the Avian Olympics in Synchronized Preening:

Windy & Madonna are my Blue Splash Marans hens.

Most of the materials we used to build our tractor were re-purposed or leftover items from other projects. Total cost was about $60.00. Entertainment value from watching my two year old ‘help’ build it: priceless.

As a play-pen for adolescent chicks being slowly integrated into the flock.

After the base was built and wheels attached, in went the rudimentary nesting boxes. The hinged door on the back of the nest boxes opens from the outside for egg retrieval. The black, ribbed material used to make the “hoop” portion of the tractor is irrigation tubing, commonly used for underground sprinkler systems. It’s hollow and very lightweight. Originally we planned on using PVC for the tractor but we learned that PVC isn’t very durable for this purpose and will crack eventually.

Most of the materials we used to build our tractor were re-purposed or leftover items from other projects. Total cost was about $60.00. Entertainment value from watching my two year old 'help' build it: priceless.

It was important to me that this tractor be lightweight. The only predators we worry about during the day are the hawks, so we used plastic poultry netting instead of hardware cloth. It cost $12.00 for a 36″x 50′ roll at Lowe’s.

Most of the materials we used to build our tractor were re-purposed or leftover items from other projects. Total cost was about $60.00. Entertainment value from watching my two year old 'help' build it: priceless.

We attached the netting with zip ties.

After the base was built and wheels attached, in went the rudimentary nesting boxes. The hinged door on the back of the nest boxes opens from the outside for egg retrieval. The black, ribbed material used to make the "hoop" portion of the tractor is irrigation tubing, commonly used for underground sprinkler systems. It's hollow and very lightweight. Originally we planned on using PVC for the tractor but we learned that PVC isn't very durable for this purpose and will crack eventually.

Introducing the girlz to the tractor for the first time

Introducing the girlz to the tractor for the first time

Bessie and Clarice had other ideas in mind for its use.

Bessie and Clarice had other ideas in mind for its use.

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JulianaEliza RayDelia. RTheChickenChickHunter4Liberty Recent comment authors
TheChickenChick
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TheChickenChick

I only use it for flock integration. I'm not sure of the dimensions, but bigger is always better, Mary!

Mary Hofer Farris
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thanks anyway! : ) what are the dimensions and the # of chickens you put inside? I'm going to try winging one this summer!

TheChickenChick
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TheChickenChick

Thanks Mary! I would share them if I had them, but my husband just winged it and didn't provide me with the particulars. Sorry!

Mary Hofer Farris
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I like your tractor design a lot- almost looks like it could double as a mini-hoophouse in the winter if some plastic went over the chicken wire! Would you be up for sharing plans/measurements/construction instructions??

Susan TeBogt
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What are the dimensions of your chicken tractor and how many birds do you put in it?