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        2013 SARE IPM Study

Chicken Tractor Construction      Back to Study Page

Finished chicken tractor
Finished chicken tractor second design

The requirements for this chicken tractor design were: It must be easily movable; must provide shelter, protection from animals, shade and a laying area for the chickens; must provide sun for the blue hubbards; must contain the chickens with the hubbards: must be able to open the ends so that it could be rolled over adult plants without damage; and allow for daily bug counts.

I developed this design to accommodate 2 to 4 chickens and the hubbards. It is 8 feet wide and 12 feet long and 24" high. The chickens were removed at night to return to the flock. We built two units and played with different design methods, shown below. Cost analysis

Top frame upside Side frame
Top frame upside down to attach wire on the inside Sides framed upside down

Frame the unit upside down and attach the chicken wire to the inside. Then install the 45 degree braces to keep the sides vertical. Always keep in mind where the 2' and 4' wide wire will go, it works best if the wire edge hits in the center of the 2x4's. On the second unit it worked out better to put the vertical 2x3's on the outside instead of the inside of the frame

Roost Chicken tractor roof
Roost and egg nest framed in Roof framed in for siding

A piece of 1" PVC pipe was used for the roost. The nest was framed at the end with the door and scrap pieces of the siding were used to make a box for the hen's nest.

Egg door open Egg dooor closed
Door access to egg laying nest Door to nest and roost

The edges of the siding were painted to stop water absorption and extend the life of the siding. Roof drip edging is a cheep ridge cap to seal the top. The sides of the roof are 30" wide.

Wheel design 1 Wheel design 2
First wheel design vertical lift style Final wheel design leaver lift style

The first wheel design is a vertical lift. It works very well except that the unit is fairly heavy and difficult to lift with one arm while operating the pin with the other. The second unit on the right has a leaver action wheel bracket which is very easy to operate. If the leaver does not lift high enough it is very easy move the pivot point. Drill the height adjustment holes thru the leaver because when moving if you need to turn the unit must be picked up slightly and drag sideways to accommodate the turn. If the wheels fall down it makes turning more difficult.

Steel wheel bracket  Chicken wire
Steel axle bracket for wheels Chicken wire attached to underside of frame

The wooden wheel brackets proved to have too much play in them. Steel brackets were made from U brackets for building utility trailers and long concrete anchor bolts. Weld the bolts in the U brackets and bolt to the end of a 2x4. The hook end of the anchor bolt was used for the height adjustment bolt. The photo on the right is the unit completed before the wheels were attached.

Velcro latch  Chickens at work
Velcro door latch design Chickens in chicken tractor

Velcro strips work very well for the end door latches. Use " staples to attach the strips. A small piece needs to be stapled to the side wall to keep the strap from flopping back on the door Velcro.

Chicken tractor
Chicken tractor Finished unit design 1 vertical lift wheels

The ends fold up to move over plants. There is a small door on the side to access water and food. There is a egg nest access door.


This project and all associated reports and support materials were supported by the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program, which is funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture- National Institute of Food and Agriculture (USDA-NIFA). Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed within do not necessarily reflect the view of the SARE program or the U.S. Department of Agriculture


2013 Rocky Creek Valley Farm

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* Support data provided by Lincoln University, University of Missouri & Purdue University