I recently spent countless hours researching chicken tractors after deciding to keep free-range chickens in my backyard to enjoy tasty eggs. As much tempting as it can be to let the hens roam around my backyard free-range, chickens have no boundaries and likely to end up in my neighbor’s backyard where they can destroy precious succulent plants or lawns. That’s why a chicken tractor, also known as the chicken coop( mobile chicken home), allows me to contain my hens in a movable Penn when I need to move the chicken tractor around my backyard quickly. The mobile chicken coop allows the hens to feed on the fresh green patches and small insects in my backyard’s select location. So, if you are new to backyard chicken keeping, this article shares some of my recent findings I put together so I can share with you as it turns out that I had a lot of questions about what chicken tractors were, why they are essential and whether building a chicken coop was better than buying a factory-made chicken coop.
Building your chicken tractor is better than buying from your local chicken coop supplier. DIY chicken tractors are affordable, easy to build, and chicken coop plans are readily available online for beginner chicken coop builders.
What is a chicken tractor, and is it worth it?
The word chicken tractors sound ominous and mechanical, but it is nothing close to what you possibly imagine it to be. While chicken tractors may not be mainstream to you as a beginner, they are an excellent form of a movable self-sustaining chicken coop, much like a caravan or trailer. And that’s because a chicken tractor contains everything your chicken needs in her house.
In a nutshell, a chicken tractor is a portable chicken coop with wheels on one end, allowing you to drag the mobile chicken coop easily around your garden.
Chicken tractor refers to the hen’s ability to scratch and turn a patch of green grass under the Penn into ready to plant crops after feeding on the green patches aggressively for a few days.
What are the benefits of chicken tractors?
Chicken tractors are a beneficial and valuable chicken penning accessory you need to maintain a balanced ecosystem in the backyard without letting your chickens plunder your lawn or the neighbor’s backyard.
A mobile chicken tractor’s benefits are to keep coyotes and other known chicken predators out while your chickens feed on overgrown grass patches in your backyard. Chicken tractors also help in fertilizing your backyard lawn with their nitrogen-rich poop while your hens feed.
Mobile chicken coops also help to target pesky garden bugs, and their scratching and stamping promote soil aeration. Therefore, a mobile hen home allows any chicken owner to keep the hens penned while also free-range by manually moving the chicken tractor to the next feeding area before hens destroy grass shoots.
Is it cheaper to buy or build a chicken coop?
As much as chicken tractors are a useful backyard chicken coop to own, they can be costly to buy, maintain and make sure that your chickens and their chicks have enough room to nest and rest during their downtime hours of the day. If you are a beginner, the chances are that you are wondering whether it would be cheaper to buy or build your chicken coop.
It is cheaper to build your chicken coop than buying. A ready-made tractor chicken from a local chicken coop supplier near you costs an average of 3-4 times the total cost of a DIY chicken coop.
While the thought of building your next chicken coop can seem to be daunting, you do not have to be a lifelong chicken-raiser and poultry specialist to build your hens a home successfully. But you will need chicken coop plans, the basics of construction know-how, tools, and time to build your chicken tractor. Here’s the link to the most straightforward pdf chicken coop plans that helped me build my first affordable chicken tractor at home with just a screwdriver, a handsaw, and a hammer.
How much does it cost to build a chicken tractor?
When deciding to keep chickens in your backyard, the startup costs are the most driving factor to your decision-making process. So, knowing how much it costs to build a chicken tractor is vital for every backyard chicken rearing project.
On average, building a chicken tractor costs between $300-$3000. An A-frame chicken tractor costs $200-$300, a tractor chicken coop costs between $300-$650, a walk-in chicken coop costs $300-$1000, and an all-in-one chicken coop costs $1000-$3000.
Your chicken tractor style and the material choice chosen for your chicken coop will influence the total cost at the end of your project.
So, if you are in the design and pondering process of what your chicken tractor is going to cost you, make sure to include the type of chicken coop material. Is your chicken tractor going to be made of PVC chicken coop building materials, pressure-treated lumber, corrugated tin, or softwood?
Depending on the number of hens you are getting, you also need to keep the size of your chicken coop in mind, as this will likely affect the materials and labor costs if you are hiring a helping hand.
How many chickens do you need for a tractor?
The size of your chicken tractor will likely impose how many of your chickens will live happily in a chicken tractor. Chicken tractors are no different from permanent chicken structures with vast, spacious rooms except that chicken tractors are movable pens that you can use in your yard or farm. So, if you are getting chicks, you need to make sure you have your available space matched to each hen’s needs.
As a general rule, chicken tractors must plan for at least 4 to 5 square feet per hen in the run and a nesting box of 12 inches x 12 inches x 12 inches for each chicken inside the movable cages where chickens live in part or full time.
The chicken tractor provides the nesting boxes at a raised position as they are often elevated above chicken run so that the hens and chicks can forage in the shade underneath.
The movable chicken tractor gives the hens access to fresh grass, and the soil gets all the help it needs to get fertilized.
How do you make a cheap chicken tractor?
The most affordable chicken tractor can be made using cattle panels, 2×2 softwood, and a tarpaulin to provide shade for the hens from sunshine or rains. This is how you make a cheap chicken tractor, using online PDF chicken coop plans as your guides.
How is an average chicken tractor designed?
While there are countless chicken tractor designs, the most common plans that are popular and easy to build look and feel average in most cases.
The A-Frame chicken tractor design is an average option for anyone looking for an affordable portable chicken coop design that can house 5-14 hens.
Most beginners in chicken layer-keeping often choose the A-frame chicken coop over the walk-in types or the all-in-one chicken tractors. The main difference between average chicken tractors and all-in-one chicken coops is their price and material building costs.
What’s the best material to use for a chicken tractor?
Choosing what materials are going to be best for your chicken tractor can be tricky. That’s because you have material costs to consider, as well as how heavy the entire chicken coop is going to be and durability.
Corrugated tin for roofing and pressure-treated lumber for framing your chicken tractor coop is the best materials to use for building a chicken tractor. They are durable, light, and easy to get from your local building supplier near you.
Because your chicken coop will be moving from one place to another around your backyard, there’s no need to stress about ground cover within the enclosure as it can be grass or the bare ground, which the hens adore.
However, if you have a stationary all-in-one chicken coop, then putting thoughts into whether wood chips, straw, or the bare ground will be suitable for your hens is vital.
The mobile chicken tractor seems to work well for chicken keepers also looking for helpers who can get organic materials break down quickly.
Anything mentioned above and plain sand are excellent popular choices for their durability. As long as your hens can scratch and dust-birthing themselves easily, whatever you choose, your hens will reward you with tasty eggs every day that they can scratch and dig.
What are the desirable features of chicken tractor designs?
When looking for your chicken tractor’s most desirable features, it can be tempting to ignore that the animals’ needs and welfare are key. That’s why you need to know in advance what are the most desirable features you are going to include as ideal for the kind of chickens you intend to keep.
An excellent chicken tractor will contain:
- Supplemental chicken food.
- A roosting perch.
- A nesting box.
- An ideal place for hens to free-range.
As you can see, the list of chicken coops is endless, and the most critical part is how your budget fits in well with your project. Most popular chicken coops like the A-frame chicken design can be put together in a matter of hours when you have all the chicken coop building materials and plans.