First: definition refinement.
A chicken tractor isn’t a really cool John Deere driven by a chicken. (Though, that would be a great picture!) Most of us have grown up knowing chickens live in a coop, a place with roosting bars, water, chicken feed and laying boxes. We’ve seen it on preschool walls or our grandparents had one. A “chicken tractor” is a movable coop so that the chickens have everything they need, food, water, roosting bars, fresh grass and protection. It also keeps 30 chickens from pooping on your front porch.
I have made a few (read: many) chicken tractors either for myself or for friends. I have made tractors out of PVC, light provided protection but very easily blown over in a strong wind. We made one from a rabbit hutch, very heavy and sturdy but too heavy and not easily movable. Made one from 2×4’s, good for a small number of chickens. Ana White has a good design!
My second favorite design was using cattle panels and 2×6. The cattle panels are 16 feet long so when you curve them into a 2×6 “frame”, it’s nice and high. It’s easy to put a tarp over it and wrap with chicken wire or hardware cloth. It had a great open space. Very sturdy, it is heavy but because it was so big, it needed to be moved around less. A good friend uses these for her brooders for young chicks. You can practically hang from the middle because it’s so strong! And the design is so simple! 2 Cattle panels, 2 2×6’s, 2×4 to frame up the door and a tarp.
But here’s my favorite design! The John Suscovich Chicken Tractor!
(I know the Joel Salatin is king of chicken tractors, but here in Georgia, I feel like the roof needed to be higher for airflow, even in these with the ends open, it still gets hot in there in the summer.)
I was fine buying this book for $14 on Amazon. You can get the Kindle version for $10 but I liked having the paper copy in my pocket and I really liked NOT having electronics in my shop while I cut the boards.
I liked the his philosophy, if it’s not perfect, it a chicken tractor! They aren’t going to care. Make sure it’s sturdy, make sure they are safe, and make sure you are safe when you move it! It’s a sturdy design, no goofiness. Well, he uses lap joints, which was a goofiness on the first one, the second one I build, I didn’t use them, time will tell if I made the right choice but so far, it’s been working fine. They have been in the pasture outside the protection of our dog and have been fine, I can hang the feeder from the top bar, I’ve hung my new float-valve waterer from the back very easily. Bending the electrical conduit was fun, it took some practice to get them straight. After getting wheels from Harbor Freight, it moved very easily!
I hope you enjoyed this! I’ll probably do a post on building one because, the book is great, he just leave a few things out.