I built a Chicken Tractor!

I am so darned proud! Before this the biggest construction project I ever undertook was when I made my square-foot garden beds. This (the photo above) is my chicken tractor (I’ve since covered one end with a tarp to provide shelter from the rain). You can see the handles at the near end; at the far end are a pair of lawnmower wheels. It has no floor, but is covered on all sides with 1×1 chicken wire, with an added skirt (which I later weighed down with some rocks) to deter the digging predators. The back half of the top is actually a hinged lid, secured with slide locks. This allows me to get inside to change water, etc. The chickens have access to green stuff, bugs and worms, and within minutes of being moved into their new home they were scratching and pecking and running around with bugs in their beaks while their littermates tried to snatch them away. It feels really good to see the chickens outside in Nature, doing what chickens are supposed to do!

The idea is to move the tractor every couple of days (daily when they get bigger) so they always have access to fresh food and their manure fertilizes the ground they left rather than becoming a waste product that needs to be dealt with. They still get their pelleted feed, and I did move the heat lamp in there as it’s a bit cool in the evenings right now, but now they can have fresh air, sunshine, and some variety to their diet. The handles and wheels make it relatively easy to move, but I’m glad Hubby is coming home tonight as it’s a bit of a walk from the patch of grass they are on right now and the big pasture and I could use some help moving the tractor over there (and making sure nobody gets squished or escapes!). After that it will be easy for me to move it myself a few feet to a new patch of greens.

The chickens have been growing at a (frankly) freakish rate. They must be at least 3 times their size after only 2 weeks. The brooder was moved into the garage last week after I felt sure they were all doing fine (and the smell got too much for me). I’ve never had chickens before but I’ve heard these meat birds make quite a mess (they eat and drink copious amounts, so I guess that makes sense) and these guys were clearly out-pooping their brooder’s capacity! Tonight is their first night outdoors and I keep checking on them, worried they’ll be cold. They are about half-feathered right now but between the heat lamp and the company of others I am hoping they’ll be fine.

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4 responses to this post.

  1. It’s a great tractor – good for you! The wheels are a great idea – maybe an obvious one, but not to us – we built our thinking we could just drag it, but it’s HEAVY!

    With every new batch of chicks we are amazed all over again at how fast they grow and how much they eat (and how much they poop, come to think of it…).

    Reply

  2. Pretty snazzy! Good idea with the wheels so one person can move it.

    I love how they run around with bugs and attract all that attention. Part of me thinks, if they just ate it before they ran around announcing “look what I got,” they’d have less hassle trying to fight off their siblings to finish it, LOL.

    Reply

  3. Awesome! If we had grass, we’d have one of these.. 🙂 One word of caution–I don’t know anything about tractors or meat birds, but when we built our coop, we heeded cautions from many others that raccoons can tear through chicken wire without much difficulty. 😦 Hardware cloth (a heavier gauge wire with smaller opening 1/2″) is usually recommended, at least for the sides and bottoms. Apparently raccoons can also reach right through chicken wire and pull heads off, even if they don’t get the whole bird! Scary!

    Reply

  4. I’d heard that chicken wire isn’t as secure, but the price difference between that and hardware cloth was so huge (about 6x) I decided to risk it. Fingers crossed!

    Reply

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