Simply described, a Chicken Tractor is a mobile home, similar to a camper or trailer, that houses everything your chicken need. It’s a chicken coop that can be moved around.
Food, water, a roosting perch, a nesting box, and a pleasant spot for her to free roam will all be included.
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover the fundamentals before delving into the important factors to consider while constructing your own.
Finally, we’ve compiled a list of 13 of the finest chicken tractor ideas for different flock sizes and budgets.
Chicken Tractor Basics and Advantages
The tractor’s purpose is to keep them contained in order to prevent harm to the remainder of your yard or the property of your neighbours. The tractor happens to be movable, so you may transfer it to the next patch of grass before it fully destroys the area where it is parked.
Anyone who has had a chicken run rampage in their flower beds will attest to how frustrating it is to see all of your hard work trashed in less than 10 minutes, not to mention the poop patties strewn around.
When your neighbours discover that your chickens have re-located the mulch, eaten the vegetables, and left tiny thank-you gifts, they will be furious.
The tractor’s second advantage is that it keeps your chickens secure. With the probable exclusions of the bear, raccoon, and coyote, a solid strong tractor will prevent most predators.
The chickens may graze in complete protection from predators such as hawks and owls flying above.
The biggest reason to own a movable coop is that it provides free lawn care! The hens will nibble the tips of the grass and weeds, as well as eliminate any insects and fertilise the garden, all for free!
In essence, they pay you in eggs – what more can you ask for?
You’ll need to move the tractor at least every day if you want your grass to remain in good shape, otherwise you’ll wind up with bald areas and a dust bath crater.
Chicken Tractor’s Basic Components
The fundamental construction is made up of two parts: the coop and the run. In the United Kingdom, it’s also known as a chicken ark.
The coop is just a square cage with enough room for your hens to live in. It’s vital to remember how much room your hens want: huge chickens needs 4 sq. ft. per bird, whereas bantams want 2 sq. ft. per bird.
Yes, you can cram more birds in, but this will foster anti-social tendencies that will be difficult to stop and may result in one or more of your females being injured.
In many situations, the coop’s floor is non-existent. Because chickens excrete the majority of their waste at night, the faeces is simply dumped on the ground, leaving you with little little to clean up!
For a variety of reasons, many individuals prefer a strong foundation to the coop (the most important being security). A solid ‘box’ into which you can lock your hens at night is more comforting than an open concept box.
The hens may be disturbed if a bear or raccoon tips over the coop, but they will remain safe and secure, but if the bottom was open, they would be food.
The second reason is that it makes moving the hens simpler when they are restricted.
If the hens are standing on the soil while operating an open bottom tractor, they must learn the movement routine.
They must realise that they must migrate with the coop.
It usually only takes a few movements for them to get the hang of it, but it’s simple to capture some ‘slow toes’ underneath the framework.
If the coop is boxed, you may simply pick it up, move it, and then let the chickens out.
The size of your run should be sufficient to fit the amount of chickens in the tractor. Remember the numbers: big birds need at least 8 square feet per bird in a run area, whereas bantams need just 4 square feet per bird. More space is usually preferable.
Although your hens are technically “free ranging,” they are unable to run, leap, or burn energy in any way other than going from one end to the other, so if you have the room, a longer run is ideal.
The run should also be tall enough to allow you to hang the feeder and drinker out of the way so they don’t defecate in it (which they will do if it sits on the ground).
How to Make Your Own Chicken Tractor
When constructing your tractor, there are a few things to keep in mind. Tractors must be strong and well-built, which means they are often extremely heavy to transport.
If you have back, neck, or other mobility issues, you’ll have to consider carefully what you want. Lightweight tractors may, of course, be built, but they aren’t without their drawbacks. We’ll get to them eventually.
You will need to figure out how many chickens you want to load onto your tractor. For example, four huge chickens will each need 4 square feet of area, requiring a total of 16 square feet of floor area. This is a four-foot-by-four-foot box.
This may not seem to be a huge item, but it will be fairly heavy if you are hauling (or pushing) it along with the run, particularly up or down hills.
Ease of Moving
How simple will it be to move your tractor? Almost every tractor layout I’ve seen has wheels to aid with building movement, or can be tied to a small tractor or utility vehicle.
It is advisable to stay away from any ideas that do not contain wheels since moving it will need Herculean power!
You can carry some tractors like a wheelbarrow, some like a rickshaw, and the really big ones need horsepower – real or mechanical.
Ease of cleaning
Cleaning the coop will be the same as cleaning a standard coop. It is necessary for the access space to be big enough for you to work through. Some coops include a ‘lift up’ side that makes cleaning and egg removal much easier.
You will discover a selection of chicken tractor designs at the bottom of this page that you may construct.
From a security standpoint, many of tractors may be discounted. Many individuals substitute chicken wire for hardware cloth. Although hardware mesh is expensive, it is preferable than losing all of your chickens to a determined predator.
However, this does not imply that the tractor’s design is inherently terrible; if you discover a design you like, you can always increase the security.
Building a basic building from scratch can be relatively simple, and utilising recycled materials makes it much more fun and cost efficient. This would significantly reduce the cost.
You will note that several of the tractors in the gallery below have made creative use of repurposed materials!
Also, if you live in a location where summers may be scorching, ensure sure the coop has appropriate shade and ventilation.
Building a Secure Chicken Tractor
We mentioned security briefly before, but it’s critical that the tractor be safe and secure for your flock.
The structure itself should be built of durable materials; it will be exposed to elements such as sun, wind, and rain, thus if it is built of wood, it should be painted to preserve it.
This leads us to the topic of light-weight tractors. Although lightweight is ideal for individuals who must move the item, they may easily be tipped over in a windstorm or other bad weather, spreading your flock all over the area.
If you insist on having a lightweight tractor, you’ll need to have a method in place to anchor it if the need arises, particularly if you reside at a higher elevation where the wind might be a problem.
A tractor composed of PVC pipe and chicken wire will also be easily dismantled by large animals.
Check the locks and entrance points as well – can you get in without difficulty? If that’s the case, it’s likely that other things will as well. Any lock should be able to keep a three-year-old kid out at the very least. A raccoon will figure it out if it fails this test.
Wire mesh or hardware cloth, not chicken wire, should be used to cover any windows. The purpose of chicken wire is to keep chickens in, not predators out.
Hardware mesh should also be used to cover the run.
Best DIY Plans
EggFactory is a small chicken tractor which would be suitable for a small flock of less than six hens. It is an A-Frame style and has wheels at the rear which allow for easy maneuverability.
Welcome to one of the most luxurious chicken tractors in existence. The “Chicken Menagerie” is a midsized run with a large price tag. Expect this particular chicken tractor to cost you around $500 to build.
As the name suggests the PVC tractor is made from PVC pipes. This plan contains detailed diagrams outlining each step of the build, making it suitable for someone with little to no DIY experience.
The Barn Tractor is one of the largest chicken tractor plans in this list. It has two areas to the run, a covered section (under the coop) and an exposed section. Providing you insulate the coop it can be used in all weather conditions.
If you have several weeks and a large budget, then the “CocoChanel” plan could be the one for you. This huge chicken tractor can house over 12 hens confortable and even has flower beds to decorate its exterior; definitely a high end plan!
Oasis is an affordable A-frame chicken tractor suitable for midsized flocks (6-12 hens). One end of the tractor is covered by mesh and the other end by wood, providing cover during rainfall. This particular tractor plan is without wheels, which makes moving it difficult with one person.
As the name suggests “Reclaimed Tractor” is ideal for those of you with existing timber that you’re looking to repurpose. One thing to note about this particular plan is its weight; you’ll need two people to safely maneuver it around.
The “Hen Hideout” is an affordable midsized run that represents good value for money. This particular plan uses plastic not wood to build the frame. It also has a large wheel at each corner making it easy to move around your garden.
The Bantam House is a stylish, fun, chicken tractor. It has four wheels, one on each corner, making maneuvering it very easy. This would be perfect for a small-sized bantam flock and can be used all year round.
This particular chicken tractor is one of the most expensive in this list. Not only does it have a sheltered area for roosting is also has a nesting box on the far end of the tractor. This mid-sized tractor would be suitable for up to 12 hens.
This chicken tractor plan is an affordable, medium sized one. Interestingly it has two entrances for the hens, one straight up into the coop and another into the run section. If your hens are using the coop entrance I’d recommend building a ladder for them.
The Hyperion is the most affordable chicken tractor plan in this list. Whilst its looks are fairly rudimental, if you’re looking for a cheap solution look no further than this plan; it is effective and servers its purpose.
This particular tractor plan is a simple and affordable one that is most suited to those with a small flock on a limited budget. The run can be built for well under $200 and is ideal for beginners.