How to build a chicken tractor

One of the most used investments on our farm are our chicken tractors and our brooder. We raise our egg layer and meat birds in these houses and, over time, have found ways to make them easier to use, move and store.

 

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In this photo you see the panels which are made from 2×2’s. The end panels are two feet high by five feet wide. One end is covered in tin and the other is screen stapled to the surface. The screen here is 2×2″ welded wire. It is fine for older chicks but not suitable for small chicks. If you have a predator issue, you can use hardware cloth. We don’t put anything around the bottom of our tractors. It makes it too difficult to move and we have dogs that protect our farm. Each panel is held together with long screws and there is a center piece to give it more strength. The side panels are two feet by ten feet and are covered in screen as well.  This makes for easy assembly  and dis-assembly and they store flat in the barn during the off season.

 

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The top is made in one large five by ten piece with one end hinged for access. We hang this panel on the wall in the barn when not in use.  With one large pen, we had to find a way to access the birds without having to get into the pen. Who wants to crawl around in all the poo to reach an injured bird? Not this girl.

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Here you see the divider panel that slides from back to front to slowly  move the chickens to one end for easy reach.  When the top is put on, there is a small gap that runs from the back to front with blocks that hold it above the pipe. We just use screwdrivers inserted into the end of the pipe to slide it back and forth. Because it is usually in the back position, and we cover with tarps, we don’t want anything protruding beyond the side of the tractor.

 

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If you look closely you can see the divider back by the wheels of the tractor. When the chicks are first moved from the brooder to the tractor we leave them in the front. This allows them to stay huddled together for warmth but still gives them plenty of room. We slide the partition back as they grow. Rowdy just had to be in the picture. These are his babies. We have no need for any other protection against predators with Shadow and Rowdy doing their job. More on English Shepherds in another post.

 

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Chicks start out in a brooder in a building that is made the same way but is solid on all four sides. It has a screen top that is covered with foam insulation until they are able to regulate their body heat. At about three weeks, or when they are fully feathered, they are moved outside into the tractors. The tractors are moved three times a day to fresh grass. We have used standard waterers and feeders but this year will be using a system of hoses that allow a fresh water supply to be constantly available. I will update when we have that in place.

Our birds get the best of care. Great food, fresh air, lots of good bugs, grass and dirt and we believe we produce a bird that is far above the commercial meat bird. Please let me know if you have any questions or are interested in purchasing chickens from us. Production starts in March and by that time we hope to have Paypal ready to go and our website up and running. Please bear with me. I can bake a great loaf of bread, I can plant a wonderful garden and I can go head to head with our milk cow but I have a hard time with the computer and camera.

Hope you enjoyed learning a little about what we do and I look forward to hearing from you.

Comments

  1. What do use to hold all of the individual panels together when using as a tractor? What material are you using on top? Screen then tarp?

    • I’m sorry I have been so long getting back to you. I’m new at all this. Yes, we use 2X4 welded wire on a 2X2 frame and cover it with a tarp. We just screw the panels together with stainless screws, two on each corner and one on each corner to attach the top.

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