My lil yard sharks are spoiled. They have a primo coop with a large run and an all you can eat buffet open 24/7. They get an assortment of greens throughout the day as well as various kitchen delights that our dogs are loathe to share. And yet they want more. And I felt badly that they couldn’t have access to the culinary delights creeping and crawling in the backyard. A mobile 'run' solved the problem of letting the girls dine without getting dined upon. (It also keeps the lil darlings from devouring my garden!)
The mobile run (aka a chicken tractor) shown with and without the roof tarp.
The "gated community" - tractor, coop, chunnel, and fixed run.
The girls’ fixed run was fashioned from chain link dog runs. Two 10’x10’ panels were left over after the build and those panels became the main walls of an A-frame type tractor.
The panels were angled so that the base of the tractor measures 10’ x 8’ and then connected at the top with panel clamps. A cedar 2x6 (roughly 8 ft long) was attached to the back end of the tractor with EMT straps and 10 x 2.75 inch wheels screwed in with lag bolts as axles.
Note the end corners of this 2x6 had to be sawed off to provide clearance for the rubber part of the wheels.
An 8 ft cedar 2x4 was connected to what was to become the lower front end of the tractor.
To make the cut for the triangle shaped back, a standard 4x8 sheet of 3/8 inch plywood was first propped up along the end to 'measure'
and trace the cutting lines. The cut piece was then attached using 1 inch 2-hole EMT straps.
Making the door involved finding the vertical center of the tractor’s front end. Two 40 inch long cedar 2x2's were placed 12 inches to the right and left of the center, becoming part of the door’s frame. A 26.75 inch length was attached to the top completing the frame.
The actual door was fashioned from the same cedar 2x2’s (but cut shorter to allow for an approximate 3/8 inch door clearance) and then covered with 1/4 inch hardware cloth. Note the use of the EMT straps to affix the door frame.
After the door was hinged on, corner braces cut from the leftover plywood were added. More hardware cloth was tie wrapped and/or stapled on to cover the remaining front openings.
A shelf, 24 inch in depth, was added to the back end of the tractor. Three 6'4" long 2x2's were slid through and are supported by the chain link mesh. These long pieces extend across the back of the A-frame and are about 16 inches above the ground. Pieces of 1/8 inch birch laminate were screwed down onto the 3 2x2's to create the shelf. There was no need to fasten the supporting 2x2's to the chain link mesh as the shelf keeps them from sliding.
I chose to use open cat litter pans for nest boxes as I thought they would be cooler in the summer and they are lightweight. Keyhole openings were cut into the bottom of the nest boxes so that they could be easily removed for cleanup. I cut a piece of yoga mat to cover the bottom of the nest box so no lil tootsies are hurt by the hardware.
The nest boxes passed inspection.
After the nest boxes were in place, the rectangular shaped egg door was traced, cut, and hinged on. It is 24”x10”.
A TS dog kennel roof tarp fits perfectly. In these pictures I have it folded to allow light in. Tarpaulin ball bungees are used to attach the roof tarp.
The girls love the new addition to their "gated community". They are fairly tame and so getting them to and from the tractor isn’t a problem. In fact, they usually head to it in the mornings without much ‘herding’ though some of the ladies will stop and sample the wares along the way.
I still need to stain the tractor but have been having fun using it for daily outings- no overnight stays. I feel it is secure against daytime predators and certainly stout enough to withstand the neighbor’s and my dogs jumping on it- something that a lighter PVC type tractor could not do.
Our tractor is heavy and I am not very big. I can push it but pulling it requires an extra set of removable wheels slid beneath the front end.
The 22 inch wheel contraption was made from scraps- two 2x4 pieces and one 2x2 piece, and a set of 5 inch swivel plate casters. The extra set of wheels allow me to easily move the tractor. Although I can do it by myself, getting the wheels on is less demanding if a helper lifts the tractor while I slide the wheels into place. My guy is working on an improved version. Also, the girls sometimes try to escape out of the front end of the tractor if we try to move it while they are inside. Therefore, I usually move the tractor to a fresh spot of yard after the ladies have retired to their coop/run for the day. I think a removable piece of PVC pipe or narrow bar of wood slid through the chain link mesh may help keep them corralled to the back end of the tractor during the moving process. Hmmmm…. That same piece of wood could be utilized as a roost…
The grand experiment continues!
Thank you for allowing us to share our version of a tractor. I hope it is helpful. I'm sorry we don't have a set of 'plans' as my guy made this on the fly basically in one weekend. We welcome suggestions on how to improve the chain link panel tractor and hope it inspires others in their addictive endeavors.