Building the Chicken Tractor

Thu, 04/24/2014 - 19:44 -- webmaster

Today I harvested 6 eggs from the new chicken tractor. You might not know what this cool thing is, so here's the short description. A chicken tractor is a portable chicken coop that you slowly move across an area you want to fertilize. Typically you have a fence around the back area of the tractor so the chickens can free range graze in a designated spot. The chickens eat the bugs and stuff, poop on the ground (thus fertilizing it), and roost in the tractor. When they've been on that spot long enough, you simply move the tractor to the next spot.

The old small and hard to move tractor

The old small and hard to move tractor

The old small and hard to move tractor

A classical chicken tractor will have either an open bottom or some sort of wire mesh so the poop deposited while in the tractor can fall onto the ground. Our version is slightly different, having a solid floor. We built it using an old popup camper, which was a cheap way to get the trailer we needed to build on.

Of course, the first thing to do was strip the trailer of anything valuable. I did most of that work, removing the canvas and appliances. We also pulled out most of the cabinets and electrical stuff - it won't be needing turn signals anymore.

Stripping the popup

Stripping the popup

Once it was stripped, we simply pushed in the wings to make a stable platform. One nice consequence of this is that underneath the platform is plenty of storage, complete with a functional door. A layer of strong plastic over the platform allows for easier cleaning and better maintainability.

Popup stripped, wings in

Next we built and installed the roosting boxes. These are simply plywood pieces put together to make boxes with one side open. We added a small bar in the front to let the chickens perch/step into the boxes nicely. Another feature that is essential is a hatch on the back of the boxes for easy access. That's how I harvested the eggs, by simply opening the back of the roosting box that had some eggs in it.

Roosting boxes

Roosting boxes

Needing a place to sleep at night, we next added some perches. Simple wood triangles with bars placed across them and some bracing works great. A simple door at the back, and some mesh wrapped around the whole thing wraps it up nicely. We also build a ramp that we can attach when the door is open so they can easily get in and out. And it only took us two days to build - but we were taking our time and making lots up as we went. I'm sure this could be done in a day if you had all your material on hand and had built one before.

Perches

Perches

Finished chicken tractor

Finished chicken tractor

Chicken on perch in chicken tractor

This thing looks like its going to be pretty cool. Taking care of chickens isn't all that hard, but this will make it even easier while taking advantage of their manure.