Chicken Tractors (yet again!) : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread

Hi all,

I've been through everyone of the postings on this page entitled "Chicken Tractor" or "mobile Coop" reading questions and responces back to 1999, without seeing an answer to my question.

I'd like building plans on how to make a chicken tractor. Many have responded to that queary by submitting websites which I've followed (I've been at this for hours!)Although I've seen many pictures and read many fine discriptions, I haven't seen any actual building plans for a chicken tractor. If somebody knows of a website that actually shows building plans of how to construct a chicken tractor, I'd really appreciate a responce. I've never kept chickens before, but I'd really like to try. I live in New England where it usually gets quite cold in the winters, and I'm a little concerned about keeping chickens alive in a tractor set-up during the coldest months. I've read that many of you don't do much of anything for their chickens in the winter, aside from seeing that they get more sun and more corn in their diet, I guess I'm just worried about killing them, and need to be reassured that a chicken tractorwill work for me.

Thanks for whatever help you can offer. -Patti

-- Patti (, April 21, 2002


I also thought the same thing but never did post it. I am one of those that just can't look at a picture and figure out how to make it. I need a diagram, at least, to get me going!

Another question I have is do you leave them in the tractor all the time or run them in the tractor and then bring them into the coop at night? What about egg layers, do you have nests in the tractor?

-- Karen (, April 21, 2002.

I don't know of any sites showing exactly how to build a "chicken tractor." Try the Poultry Connection Forum and search the archives there. Also try the Easy Chicken web links. There is no wrong method and I have seen at least three different styles in Southern Wisconsin. I know someone who is using a hay wagon with a small building on top of it this summer. I use a small A-frame type structure.

However, I can give you some advice. A chicken tractor in Northern climates is not very functional when there is snow on the ground. Nothing for them to eat so why move it around? So either you eat them by Winter or put them back in a coop. If the tractor is big enough that can be the coop. I free-range my egg laying flock chickens so I don't use my tractor for them. They live out of a standard type coop. I do sometimes use a tractor for meat chickens. However if you purchase cornish cross chicks, they will eat more than the ground under the tractor can provide so you MUST provide feed in a rain proof container.

The best design I have seen is cattle pannels cut and bent to make a 18" tall cage. Wrap in chicken wire, cover partly with tarp. Build trap doors in top for adding food and water containers. I saw up to fifty chickens in a 12 foot by four foot cage of this nature. Mostly they were eating the commercial feed and not bugs and grass. The farmer chained a dog near the cage to keep the raccons away. If you have this many chickens in a small place then the tractor needs to be moved daily.

I say that chickens raised in a tractor are not "free range." They are "pasture raised." Others disagree.

My buyers want free range chickens. The diet is different more bugs and grass.

-- BossNass (, April 21, 2002.

Hi Patti, The closest thing to building plans I've found is in the book "Chicken Tractor" by Andy Lee. My husband has built 3 tractors for me. It's been awhile and I can't quite remember his comments on the directions in the book. He knew some about building and had no problem but I'm not sure that the instructions given in the book were real complete - just our opinion but it is a starting place.

-- Mel Carroll in N.C. (, April 21, 2002.

Given the wide variety of chicken tractors and it being more of a concept than a standarized form, I never really looked for plans. However, I found these and maybe they will be helpful:

20 Foot Round Chicken Tractor,

Canada City Farmer, plans $15.00,

Univ. Virginia Chicken Coops,

-- BC (, April 21, 2002.

As someone above said, you will want to keep them in a real coop during the winters. One tip for Northern climates is to make sure to get breeds that have a "pea comb" or a "rose comb" as opposed to a large comb that can freeze in the hard winters.

-- Jeff (, April 22, 2002.

We built our two from the directions given in Andy Lee's book, and also from looking at differnt pens. We have made some modifacations because every one has different ways to do things and needs.

-- Lynelle SOwestVA (, April 22, 2002.

Clarification: I would never put fifty chickens in a 14 x 4 chicken tractor. I would find it unacceptable to put 25 in that small of space, however I have seen it done that way.

Jeff is giving good advice about "pea comb" or a "rose comb" as opposed to a large comb that can freeze in the hard winters. I like the Wyandotte (rose comb) and Easter Egger (pea comb) for this reason. I had a cochin one time with a big single comb. After one winter, it was turned into a small single comb by frostbite.

And lastly, yes egg layers can be raised in a chicken tractor. I suggest one big group nest instead of the traditional individual nest boxes.

-- BossNass (, April 22, 2002.

Thank you all for responding to my question! I'd just like to add that I'm only looking to have about 6 or so chickens, and I am considering Araucanas, Dominiques or some other breed that is cold hardy. I thought if I was to keep them in the tractor during the winter months, that I'd bring the tractor closer to my home, while making sure it gets the maximum amount of sunlight, and wrap a tarp around at least part of the tractor.

Of course, theres always the chance I'd just build a coop for the winter season.

Anyways, thank you all for your responces.

-- Patti (, April 22, 2002.

Patti: I kinda think theres no "right" answer to your question. Follow the concept and build accordingly. You're looking for lightweight, durability, ease of moving, adequate space, both in the "coop" area and the tractor. I read 4 square feet per bird in the tractor. If the "coop" is appropriately sized and insulated I'm sure it'll do the job without requiring another winter coop. Use your imagination and gofferit.

BTW, if you insulate the coop make sure you line the inner walls with plywood, chip board, paneling or whatever because the birds will eat the insulation otherwise.

-- john (, April 22, 2002.

Below are a couple of my favorite chicken house sites. The first is actual plans for a very cool, small coop. I imagine you could put it on wheels, but it might be a bit cumbersome. The second is for a small (5-hen) coop with attached run. They have lots of good ideas. These are VERY pricey units. It seems like for the cost, you could get someone with some design talent to come up with a plan.

I've almost finished a smaller coop, for 3-4 hens, which mixes ideas from these two sites. (Got sidetracked building a top bar hive for my bees.) Materials were about $12 - time considerably more. I plan to use it in small, fenced areas that I want the chickens to deweed and debug in preparation for planting or for general maintenance, such as under the raspberries and fruit trees.

I especially like the elegance of the nest boxes in the first coop, and the ease of cleaning. I think the wire and tarp floor of the second coop looks like a really good idea. Anyway, I hope this helps.

-- Laura Jensen (, April 22, 2002.

Got room for one more? I made two c tractors following Andy Lee's not very specific instructions in his book. Not wanting to spend more than necessary, I used scrap wood, and the pens measured 4 x 10. They looked good, and I was very proud, as this was my 1st attempt at carpentry. However, I was not able to budge either of them past the driveway. My husband came out to help, and together we hauled one into the barn and use it as a baby chicken pen. The other sis even heavier, as I modified it to create a sliding door. today I screwed two pair of cast off child's skis to the bottom boards, and am in hopes that it will slide a little better, as the turkeys in the bedroom have outgrown their pen and are getting rowdy.

-- Roma Milner (, April 23, 2002.

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