Hang Tight...

Building a Chicken Tractor

It’s time for our youngest chickens to move out of their cramped cage and get to work out in the field. I decided to build a Chicken Tractor. Follow along with me in this post to learn how it all came together!

3d Rendering

Vision: 3d Model

Because wood ain’t cheap nowadays I decided to hash out some plans in a popular free modelling software called Blender. I was able to set the actual lengths of the lumber to what was available at the store, and came up with 5 different iterations of my design. I ended up with an 8ft x 4ft x 4ft design with a sliding egg door and latched run door. This is what I considered to be the best bang for my buck in terms of lumber.

What’s nice about having the model is that once it was made, all I had to do was count the boards to get a materials list. As I put it together outside, I could come back and see where each piece went just like a lego set!

Parts List

ItemQtyPrice Per
2x4x827$4
4x4x8 Paneling3$22
2x2x8 Furring Strip3$2
1/4 Inch Hardware Cloth1$50
Outdoor Primer1 gal$20
Outdoor Paint1 gal$20
NailsBig Box$25
Hinges (2 pack)1$5
Latch1$7
Clasp1$5
* We rented a truck for $20 to transport everything

Getting Started

This post is not meant to be an all inclusive guide, but I will give a rundown on the steps that I took to build this Chicken Tractor.

First and Foremost, paint all the boards! Paint the boards with primer now and they will last a lot longer in the weather. This is an easy way to protect your investment!

(timelapse)

Once the Paint is dried it’s time to start building the frame. I struggled to find a place flat enough in the lawn and ended up setting up my foundation on the porch. I made sure to measure the width of the stairs so I could carry it off at some point!

I tacked the base of the frame with two nails per joint. in the future when it’s time to add the hardware cloth, I actually took the first parts of the frame off so I could sandwich the cloth underneath it. It worked well!

Tips

~ It’s a tough project, so take your time. I took over a month to finish mine!

~ Create a drawing or something to reference before measuring lengths to cut. I used my 3d Model file, and would select boards and hide them when I added them.

~ Overestimate the wood by a few 2×4’s. They are useful to have around and it’s not the end of the world when you make a bad cut.

~ Try to reuse material. in my case I was able to salvage some hard ware cloth from scraps my sister had left over from another project.

~ We got a solar powered automatic coop door with a remote, so we can look out our kitchen window and see if we need to manually open or close the door!

Final Chicken Tractor

This project was pretty big and involved a lot of planning. Creating the model in Blender first really made it easier to actually build without wasting material. Some final notes I’d like to mention

  • Bottom runner Boards
    • I will add some pressure treated boards for the frame to sit on to prevent the frame from rotting.
    • Make sure to pick newer pressure treated boards and make sure they are not going to leak harmful chemicals in to the soil!
  • Inner roosts and nesting boxes
    • Our chickens keep roosting on the stairs and get locked out of the coop when the solar door closes! I will add roosts and nesting boxes to see if that makes them more comfortable!
  • WHEELS
    • This tractor is way too heavy to move even with two people. I am going to add wheels to one side so it can be tilted and moved.

Final Thoughts

I enjoy doing DIY projects like these even thought they are somewhat challenging. I spent maybe 16 hours total on this build, really dragging my feet a lot of the time. Even though it was challenging I feel I have increased my construction, 3d modelling, planning, and budgeting skills which is the real value in my eyes. I am more confident in these abilities and I can already think of other projects I can do with my strengthened skills. Stay tuned to read about them!