Friday, July 6, 2012

Instant Chicken Tractor

Well, not so instant. i've been working on it for what seems weeks.

The top went together pretty easily. My neighbor gave us her old coop - a Ware Chick-N-Villa.  I was sure I could transform it into a chicken tractor ... a moveable coop you reposition each day to give the ladies access to new weeds and bugs. With a tractor, you get all the benefits of free-range birds without the constant danger from predators.
Raw materials.
It needed a bit of reinforcement here and there but it was largely intact. The previous owner had built a small extension which makes the coop just big enough for four birds.

After thinking about design for a day or two, I settled on fastening the whole thing together with two 10-foot deck planks. I repaired the missing bits of cage wire and wired the bottom with four-inch fence to keep the raccoons and foxes out. The four-inch holes in the fence are plenty large for the birds to scratch and peck in the organic lawn.

The finished tractor.
To make it mobile, I added a pair of wheels from Harbor Freight – $12 for the pair. That was the tricky part. The challenge is getting the wheels out of the way so the tractor sits flat on the ground when you're not rolling it. Otherwise the chickies have a harder time walking around the fence material and the gap invites predators.

Went through several design ideas, none worked. Finally settled on a rotating arm arrangement which allows the wheels to swing out of the way when the tractor is stationary.

So far, so good. The chickies are so happy to be out of their brooder – and since the coop has a built in light bulb, they'll be toasty overnight after the temperature drops.

My goal was getting it all done for under $100. Total came in around $75.

Ready to roll.

Laid flat.

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