My Chicken Tractor!
My family and I designed and built our chicken tractor. We didn't purchase any plans, we just did a lot of research. I was the "architect", my hubby was the "building engineer", and our two kids each gave their valuable input as well as their labor.
Here is tractor with our chicks in it when they were in their "dinosaur phaze."
The tractor's overall length is 10 feet (not including the handles) with the run six feet long, and the hen house four feet long. It's 3 feet wide, I originally wanted it to be 4 feet wide but it must fit through our garden gate which is itself 4 feet wide. The overall height at the peak is 4 feet. The window in the henhouse is for summer ventilation, we close it and lock it at night to protect the chickens from the neighborhood raccoons. In fact, the tractor was designed more to keep raccoons out than chickens in! The run is covered with 1/4 inch hardware cloth because it's difficult for raccoons to grab and pull apart, a couple of times we've found minor raccoon damage which we quickly repaired, and the floor of the run has 1/2 inch hardware cloth to allow the grass to come up and also to allow for easier cleaning (we just hose it down once per day or so). With the big hand truck wheels the tractor is fairly easy to move around the yard.
Here's the Hen House
The Hen House is cozy but comfy. You can't see the front door to the run because we designed a wind baffle, like a darkroom's light trap to allow for draft-free ventilation in cold weather. There's also a ventilation hole up top on both sides of the A-frame, we thread the electrical wire for the heat lamp through this one. Once the chickens grew to be full size the ladder was no longer necessary for them to jump up to the loft, and we found that nesting boxes were too small so we removed the center divder.
Once the chickens grew big enough we allowed them to free range during the day and we keep them in the tractor only at night. But we didn't expect that our cat, Sparkie, would nap in the hen house!
In the late fall we parked the tractor on top of the garden bed.
We insulated the hen house by draping a water heater blanket on top of it, then laying clear garden plastic over that and part of the run, an then we filled in the gap in the bottom with bales of hay. Inside the hen house we hung a heat lamp, and also a radio thermometer so we can check the temperature and humidity from the convenience of our kitchen.
When the snow was deep the chickens were warm and dry inside the run, we piled fresh dry hay into the run once per week and in the spring we spread it onto the garden bed.
The water dish is a rubberized plastic that can withstand hot water being poured on top of the ice without cracking, and we kept a shallow dish with sand for grit in the run for them. Inside the hen house we of course kept food and water. Can you see the wind baffle inside the front door?
I hope you enjoy our chicken tractor as much as our chickens do! And our cat, too.
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