The Dangers of a Tractor-style Coop

While chicken tractors are an amazing option for the new chicken keeper, there are some dangers associated. Read this article before you buy to...
By alexisrambles · Jul 10, 2019 · ·
  1. alexisrambles
    This was my flock before yesterday.

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    Now I've got three dead chickens and two injured. If it had been predators, I could understand. If it had been my own mistake, I'd be upset but it would make sense.

    YCmBLPn - Imgur.jpg

    No, my chickens were killed by something simple and that we never saw coming. My grandfather thought he'd do something nice for me and move the chicken tractor since the grass was getting short where it was located. That's fine--we had talked about it days before. But evidently instead of staying in the lifted coop portion like they normally did, several chickens hopped down to investigate the moving portion and were crushed. And of course, with Murphy's law being in full effect here, two of my three favorites were amongst the victims.

    I don't blame my grandfather. Far from it. But I wanted to share my story because something like this had never occurred to me as a possibility before. I've never heard of them getting caught up in the moving. We've moved the tractor several times before and all went well. The only difference was that instead of having me watching the tractors and the chickens from the back, he did it alone.

    Don't move your coop alone if you can help it. Accidents can happen and they can have deadly consequences. Always have one person watching for potholes or potential accidents if you use a tractor or lawn mower to move the coop. The sound of the mower can easily drown out the signs of things going horribly wrong.

    This could have been prevented pretty easily if it had even occurred to us that this could happen.

    Ways to Prevent Accidents

    • Always have someone watching out for anything that can get caught in machinery.
      If I'd been there as I had been previously, I would have seen the chickens hop down and could have easily told him to stop before anything went wrong. These are animals. They're unpredictable.
    • Build your coop so it can more easily go over small obstacles.
      My coop has no wheels and relied upon being dragged with the back wall bearing all the weight. This was how the coop was created--we had bought it from someone else who had no problems with it. I wanted to put wheels on it but didn't see it as a high-priority task. If we had wheels on the coop it would have given a few inches space for obstacles like tree roots. And chickens.
    • Move your coop while it is empty and the chickens are free ranging.
      This is something another BYC-er mentioned to me. They only move their coop just before sunset while they let their chickens free range. That way there is plenty of room for them to get out of the way if they are frightened and panic.
    • Put a door on the coop portion.
      Even if your chicken tractor is predator proof, there are benefits to creating the coop portion with four walls, a solid (or grate) floor, and a ceiling. Case in point-you have the option of locking all the chickens into the coop portion with some sort of door. That way there is no chance of them getting caught up in the mechanism.

      Of course all of this is just my opinion. You may never have this problem. But if you're a new chicken keeper considering a tractor, realize that this can and does happen. Tractors aren't faultless and things can go wrong. Think things through before a chicken pays the price.

    Alexis Richard

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Recent User Reviews

  1. BugStalker
    "Thanks for sharing"
    5/5, 5 out of 5, reviewed Aug 17, 2019 at 10:05 PM
    I don't move mine with a motor for fear of this problem. I was debating a door on the coop portion, but think I've decided to definitely add one after reading this. (I was leaning that way.) I almost always move them by myself, (by hand,) and watch and listen for problems. It can be pretty slow, but fairly safe. They always squawk and flutter around, but there's usually something different when there's a problem. I think there was a head caught once, or something like that, probably multiple incidents. I don't really remember because it wasn't bad. If the outside door is open, they like to run out, so I usually close it so they don't get caught in the frame if it jerks. (There's also space under the frame, just in case.)
  2. Redhead Rae
    "Good points"
    5/5, 5 out of 5, reviewed Aug 15, 2019 at 8:51 PM
    I’ve had this problem with tractors, but mine are pvc with a separate “coop” that moves with it. So it isn’t as heavy if I have to move with birds contained in it, and it won’t crush them or I can leave them in their coop and move the tractor separately.
  3. Meg-in-MT
    "Tractor Warning"
    5/5, 5 out of 5, reviewed Aug 15, 2019 at 1:14 PM
    I'm sorry you had to go through this! I'm glad you shared your story, I'm sure others had not thought of this.


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  1. Kluk-Kluk
    So sorry for your loss!! :(
  2. Sydney65
    So sorry for your loss and trauma. Just getting started, so he's still making the coop. I had found a sleigh coop which he modified, and I think you cld make the base to accomodate your existing. I'm still sorting through using this forum, but I did put a pic of it in my album for you. Basically make a base to fit your coop w/sleigh runners, top w/hardcloth, then top with your coop. Here is link to original which he modified,
      chicken4prez likes this.
  3. AmandaMBG
    You can put a board a few inches from the end or a ledge wrapping the the inside edges where the chickens can have something to hop up onto if they start to get run over. This should be common sense and I honestly would never move one with a motorized vehicle ever because of the danger of running over an animal but that may just be me.
      chicken4prez and qwackers9 like this.
    1. qwackers9
      The ledges are a great idea! Also mine is not motorized. Just pull with a dog leash tied to it.
      chicken4prez and Sydney65 like this.
  4. qwackers9
    Thank you for your warning! I have 2 ducks in my chicken tractor & typically don't have any problems with it. However there are a couple of places that go slightly downhill & the tractor wants to move faster than the ducks. My boyfriend built it. He used aluminum (to keep it light) for the frame, 3in pvc pipe for the 4 arches, then the typical green wire fencing u see everywhere. Used just a piece of an old wire chair for the gate. Also has tires at the one end.

    I am so sorry for the loss if your favorite chickens. Murphy's Law like u said. It's so unfortunate to have to learn things the hard way, but that's usually how it goes. Again so sorry! It never gets easier.
      chicken4prez likes this.
  5. DiYMama540
    So sorry to hear about you chickens:hugs This unfortunately is one of those very hard lessons we have to learn from time to time. Thank you for sharing your experience with the rest of us so we can learn from it as well!
      chicken4prez and alexisrambles like this.
    1. alexisrambles
      Thank you! We've stopped moving the tractor due to this, and I'm working on a hoop coop instead that can do dual purpose as a stationary or moving coop.
      chicken4prez and DiYMama540 like this.

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