Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Homemade Chicken Tractor from Scavenged Materials

I was hoping to raise some chickens for meat this spring. Our current coop is pretty full with 11 birds right now so I needed to make another structure. I decided to make a big chicken tractor that I could move around in our big weedy side yard. Most of the chicken tractors I've seen are quite small but this one measures 79" x 96". I can still move it by myself, although only just barely and not very far. I've had two hens in it for the past few weeks and it has worked out quite well.

I built it entirely out of stuff I had laying about the yard, most of which was scavenged from the trash at some point. It consists of a base frame of 2x4's. I then drilled 5 long screws into the top of each long side (evenly spaced) to serve as anchors for the PVC pipes. I left about 2 inches of screw sticking up at the top and then  hooked a 1/2" PVC pipe over each pair of screws to form an arched top. Then I used several odd segments of chicken wire to cover the arch and the back "wall". I stapled the chicken wire to the 2x4 base and used short strands of wire to connect the wire sections up above (I just twisted it to join the two pieces). The covering is mostly chicken wire but the front bit is my sister's old wire compost bin (thanks, sis!). I covered the back part with a piece of old tarp to provide some shade and rain protection for the chickens. The front "door" is an old cattle panel that basically just rests against the front and is held in place by a piece of wire. I can lower the panel all the way to the ground and just walk over it or I can slide it to one side. Because the square holes in the cattle panel are large enough to let predators in I had to cover it with bits of smaller wire, too.

I don't have any meat birds to put in the tractor yet but I did have two hens that needed to escape an abusive boyfriend named Floyd. I started them out in the tractor near the house and every few days I move the tractor down to the next bit of fresh grass. I don't leave them in one spot long enough to destroy the grass but they do mow it quite a bit. You can see the swath they have cut through the grass in this photo:

I started building a second chicken tractor/hoop coop with Big Sister over the weekend. We ordered some just-hatched ducks and guinea fowl that are due to arrive in the mail this week and they are going to need an outdoor enclosure in just a few weeks. Because the chicken tractor was so easy to build and I still had lumber and PVC pipes laying around we decided to build another one almost identical to the first. I'll share those building photos next time!

Shared with: Little House in the Suburbs DIY Linky


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