When it comes to housing your flock of chickens, there are many options, but one of the most flexible is the chicken tractor. A chicken tractor is a portable coop that has many of the benefits of a stationary coop as well as a number of added benefits. Building the best structure for you and your flock is an investment that will serve you well for years, so take a close look at this guide to decide whether a chicken tractor is right for you.
Chicken tractors provide shelter from the weather, protection from predators, and a place to encourage egg-laying. They function the same way as chicken coops, with one main difference – they are designed to be portable, so that your flock can be rotated to a new location easily.
Types Of Chicken Tractors
Here are a few chicken tractor design options:
Mobility Is Key
This benefit is not to be overlooked. Portable tractors improve chicken health and welfare. By moving your flock away from a build-up of their own manure, you reduce the risk of disease, pests, and parasites like worms.
Being on new grass also gives your chickens an enriched diet by exposing them to more bugs to hunt and fresh nutrients in the surrounding plants. Chickens are omnivorous and benefit from a widely-varied diet.
Chicken tractors are typically built with an open bottom, or slats, so that the chicken droppings don’t have to be cleaned out, and the coop can simply be moved away. By rotating the tractor regularly, you can get a nice, even fertilization on your lawn with some of the best natural fertilizer available.
However, an open-bottomed tractor is not as effective against predators, especially from burrowing and digging animals like weasels. Even rats sometimes dig under chicken tractors if there are chicks or small pullets inside. For predator protection, keep young chickens in a brooder longer than you would if they were in a coop.
Make sure to make note of how heavy the chicken tractor is as you’re building it. The last thing you want is to build a tractor that is too heavy to move. Chicken tractors are meant to be portable, so be aware of the weight before you accidentally build a normal coop.
Chicken Tractor Designs
There are two basic designs of tractor – open and closed.
A closed tractor doesn’t have a door and is usually intended as the only area the chickens have to roam. Typically the top of these tractors are partly covered and partly mesh. A closed tractor needs to be rotated every day, or every couple of days if you don’t have many chickens in it.
An open tractor has a door that can be opened and closed like any coop, and it gives much more room to roam and hunt. However, keep in mind that open tractors need to be inside a different enclosure that the chickens can roam in. See our article on chicken runs for discussion of portable outdoor enclosures.
Keeping a healthy rotation with a chicken tractor is a little more management-intensive than having a stationary coop, but when done well it can benefit your chickens and your yard.
Hoop Style Chicken Tractor Plans
Wood Cut Out Chicken Tractor Plans
Alright, this tractor is just so cute! Between the covered hoop-style frame and egg storage shelf, these plans certainly don’t lack in functionality. Choose the same wood cutout or switch it up to include your own design, whether that be a logo, family crest, or cute little chicken.
Decorative Hoop Style Chicken Tractor Plans
Here’s another decorative option that features a PVC hoop-style tractor. The front panel opens at the top so you can grab eggs, and the bottom portion opens so that you can provide the chickens with water. Functional, relatively easy to move with 2 people, and just downright adorable!
Hoop Style Chicken Tractor Plans
For a decent sized hoop-style tractor, consider these plans. There isn’t much in the way of instructions, but the basics are there. Check out the video to get a whole tour of the finished tractor.
Wire Chicken Tractor Plans
Keep your flock nice and cool with this hoop-style covered tractor. These folks built it in a matter of a few hours, and you can too with the help of a few friends.
Upcycled Chicken Tractor Plans
Upcycled Couch Chicken Tractor Plans
Who’s up for a little dumpster diving?! Okay, don’t necessarily do that, but do stop by your local Goodwill and see if you can find a cheap couch. Or, pick up that one on the side of the road because it can be upcycled into a chicken tractor! The design is innovative and unique, using skis as the mechanism to move the tractor. If you can’t find some reasonably priced used skis, consider using wheels as the moving parts.
Pallet Chicken Tractor Plans
Of course we had to include a pallet chicken tractor! Nothing like using some recycled wood to create a functional backyard chicken building.
Unique Chicken Tractor Plans
Geodesic Chicken Tractor Plans
Your chickens are going to feel like they’re living in Amazon’s spheres with this crazy contratption! It may seem edgy and bizarre, but the idea is really creative and functional.
Shed Style Chicken Tractor Plans
Helpful images and step by step directions make these plans a great weekend DIY. The design is functional and the perfect size for a backyard that doesn’t necessarily have a ton of room. The wheels make the tractor accessible and easy to move, while the wood-slat design creates the opportunity for this project to be made from reclaimed wood.
Traditional Chicken Tractor Plans
Chicken Tractor With Roost Bar Plans
With a classic rectangular design and included roost bar, these plans will give you a quaint tractor that is perfect for a small flock. These plans come in the form of video instructions, which is always helpful.
Traditional Red Chicken Tractor Plans
For a traditional, farm-style chicken tractor, check out this design. Make sure to include effective wheels for this one, as it is one of the largest options on our list.
Joel Salatin Chicken Tractor Plans
Joel Salatin, well-known farmer, author, and lecturer created the initial idea for these plans. While there are many versions of this on the Internet, these plans are simple and straight-forward, providing you with some blueprints to create it yourself.
Chicken Tractor With Enclosed Shelter
Created by a student intern at the Kerr Center, these plans are detailed and well-documented. If you’re wanting to build a traditional, classic chicken tractor, these plans are for you!
The builders recommend that the front cage area should be at least as high as the upper edge of the roof. This allows for the user to step in standing up, making the process of caring for your chickens easier.
Easy To Move Chicken Tractor Plans
Let me introduce you to the king of chicken tractors: the ChickShaw. No need to fuss with heavy chicken tractors that require more than 2 people to move. This one can easily be moved with one person, and its design is just so pretty! And above all, the instructions are super easy to follow and well-illustrated images help you know whether you’re on the right track or not.
Chicken Tractor With Bottom Run
Looking for a tractor with wheels and the second floor for a chicken run? Look no further! These plans are multi-functional and will provide the most important chicken tractor feature of all: the ability for easy movement.
Affordable Chicken Tractor Plans
Affordable Chicken Tractor Plans
For a multi-functional and affordable chicken tractor, check out these plans. Keep in mind that these plans are ideal for flocks of no more than 12. Add some wheels to make the tractor even more effecient.
PVC Pipe Chicken Tractor Plans
These plans are easy, basic, and will result in a chicken tractor that is no-frills and functional. While it may not be the most decorative option, it will get the job done.
A-Frame Chicken Tractor Plans
A Frame Chicken Tractor
Get back to basics with a traditional A-frame design. Simple, descriptive instructions and well illustrated images make these plans easy to follow. The design lends itself to reclaimed wood, and it will quickly become and aesthetic piece in your backyard.
Large A Frame Chicken Tractor Plans
Need a larger chicken tractor option but still want the A-frame design? Get the best of both worlds with these plans! Not sure about you, but these plans definitely look structurally sound to me.