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Tips for building a chicken tractor for under $20

Our best chicken tractor.


We can talk your ear off about chicken tractors.  In fact, we already have written at length about the importance of chicken tractors in the garden permaculture system.  We're still working on building the best possible tractor, though.

Of course, you can shell out hundreds of dollars and get a ready-made tractor, but Mark has had great luck with making our own for under $20 apiece.  You can see several posts about his most recent tractor construction project on our chickens page.  But I thought I'd sum up our findings here:

  • Ignore people who say you should add wheels to your tractor.  Wheels make the tractor hard to maneuver around your garden and are a general pain.
  • Our best chicken tractor from a different angle.Make multiple doors on your tractor.  Our best tractor currently has two, but I'd like it to have three --- a door in the back of the nest box for easy egg-stealing, a door on the top of the tractor so that the hens don't mob you when you drop in scraps, and a big door which allows a whole human to get in for tractor repair and lets the hens get out easily if you want them to free range.
  • Make your tractor as light as possible.  As the chief tractor-dragger, I have to say that pulling even our lightest tractor uphill on wet grass often ends up with me on my butt.  Lighter next time, please, Mark!

Of course, you need to add in all of the usual components --- a perch as well as a spot for chickens to get out of the sun and rain.  Otherwise, it's pretty hard to go wrong with tractor construction.  Give it a shot --- surely you can build something serviceable for less than a few hundred bucks!

This post is part of our Chicken Trivia lunchtime series.  Read all of the entries:


We invented our homemade chicken waterer specifically for tractors.  Check it out to prevent spilling of water on uneven terrain.



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comment 1
With really light chicken tractors, how do you keep animals like foxes and dogs from getting under them? Have you lost any chickens like this yet? What about raccoons reaching through the mesh?
Comment by Everett Tue Jul 7 15:39:46 2009
comment 2
We're lucky that Lucy keeps all predators at bay, so we don't have to worry about them. She's only so-so about deer, but dogs, foxes, raccoons, opossums, and even snakes are on her list of the enemy. We haven't lost a single chicken to predators --- good dog! :-)
Comment by anna Tue Jul 7 18:44:27 2009

One very unique homestead, $1,500 per acre, the opportunity of a lifetime