Brooders / Multiple Chicken Tractors - Pasture


Aug 3, 2019
I am a chicken dad in training and have a LONG way to go...

I am trying to raise chicks and am finding that heat lamps and boxes/crates is NOT the way to go at the scale that I'm trying to build my flock. Unfortunately I had substantial losses with a recent chick order due to inexperience. Fixed the problem but underscores the need to reach out here and ask questions of experienced chick parents.

My goal is to raise enough chicks to put them on pasture in multiple chicken tractors that are moved daily ahead of rotating sheep through those pastures. That in mind, some questions...

First, are there any kind of commercial brooders available? I'll also need a place to rotate chicks out to some kind of finishing pen as I rotate new hatchlings in.

Second, I need some kind of easily movable chicken tractor large enough to house 9 hens and a rooster and includes space for eggs and feed (I take eggs and incubate them). Must be easily movable. My biggest concern is predators coming in, and I plan to mitigate this by putting chicken wire or fence wire as the "floor" and sides of the tractor so predators can't dig in. Was thinking PVC construction that is tall enough to walk in, so I can provide roost bars inside. My concerns are weight (I'm disabled and not always steady on my feet, so must be easy to move) and also ability to stay put in springtime storms we have here in Missouri.

Interested in thoughts based on folks' experience and am happy to provide more information if I've left anything out.
What about building that up on a trailer? Then you could just hook up to the vehicle to move it?
Thought about that...certainly can move with a UTV, but that really gets into more than I want to deal with if I'm having to hook onto and move multiple tractors. I want to be able to keep an eye on the chickens while moving to ensure no hangups.
I like tractors and use them... but no way is a big enough tractor easy to move.

When I have little chicks in a tractor, the tractor is not moved.

I have built a coop on a garden wagon, (which was super easy to move) and connected the coop/garden wagon to a run (which was not easy to move).

If the chicks or chickens are in a lockable coop part... then the tractor is moved after the chickens roost, and are safely locked up in the coop.

However... as I age... the only way those tractors move are by strong boy/young man power... or 4-wheeler.

Also.. I prefer no wire on the bottom of the tractor, and instead use a wire skirt. I just don't want to bother having to clean a wire floor, I am happy with them digging into the dirt with zero risk to their feet.
Look up hoop coops.... see if they are something you could use. PVC to me would not be a good idea on pasture. I have a small tractor out of PVC, and lost a pullet from it. The predator just lifted it and snatched her. Pasture hoop coops are the way to go with an apron around the bottom. They are way more secure. Lock your birds up, then move them with an ATV. you will probably go 10 or 12 ft at a time anyway.
Almost seems like the better idea would be setting up the pasture with fence corridors for temporary partitioning via electrified netting, and using a series of movable hen houses to convey they birds from one section to the next.

see, for instance, this article

9 hens and a roo, plus storage space, you want roughly 50 sq ft of house. That's a 2 wheeled, 5'x10' trailer (aluminum will save weight and prevent rusting) which can be towed with relative ease. Pulling by hand is something I've done with my 4x8 trailer with stake sides, wire, and a bunch of carefully balanced stuff on it, but not something I'd want to do every day. I'd probably choose a 5x8 trailer for the house, and build my storage on the tongue, with extra weight at the tailgate to balance it out. You are looking $800/$850 per trailer just for the frame, plus whatever you stick on top of it.

The lighter your structure is, the more prone it will be to being thrown around in inclement weather, since its not permanently affixed to a foundation. Conversely, the heavier it gets, the hard it is to move...
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