chicken tractor vs coop ?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by AuntieE, Mar 11, 2011.

  1. AuntieE

    AuntieE Chirping

    Mar 11, 2011
    Philipsburg, PA
    Hi! I'm just getting started raising chickens. I'm planning on 6-8 hens. Right now I'm in the 'research' stage. [​IMG] We have a large backyard, so I have plenty of room for either a coop or tractor. I like the fresh grass for the hens with a tractor- but do you find tractors leave brown patches all over the yard? My kids also run all over the yard, and I'm a bit concerned about manure being out in the open where they could step in it. We also have a lot of snow to deal with in the winter, and so I'm wondering if overall a coop with straw/pine shavings, and a run with sand would be a better option than a tractor. What do you experts think?

    Thanks for the help!
  2. Momagain1

    Momagain1 Songster

    Feb 13, 2011
    Central IL
    Well, personally I didnt do a tractor for the following reasons:

    1. I did NOT want to have to move it several times a day
    2. They are heavy for multiple birds..
    3. Sometimes HARD to move if the ground is mushy and the wheels just wont turn easily..or if you go up/down areas, rocks etc..
    4. I'd rather spend my money/time on something that i can ADD more birds to, rather than make another tractor..

  3. rancher hicks

    rancher hicks Crowing

    Feb 28, 2009
    Syracuse, NY
    I didn't do tractors due to the winter thing. I don't think they are convenient in that respect. You can move them with a rider mower if you have one. It just seems to me to be easier to just let them run around the yard.
  4. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    This is what it looked like under my 64 square feet tractor with 8 chickens after three days. It had rained so it was a bit wet, which made it worse than normal. This was two 4' x 8' sections that I could move separately but hook together. If the ground was dry, I could usually wait four days to move it before it started to stink. if it rained, maybe every two days was best.


    With what you describe, I'd suggest a fixed coop and run.
  5. patman75

    patman75 Songster


    I have both. My new chickens get the tractor and the older hens get the coop. Then in the fall everyone gets the coop because of the snow.

    To keep kids out of the old location of the tractor I use miss-dig flags to mark the "poop zone"

    I put wire on the bottom of the tractor to keep the chickens for digging up the turf. they eat the grass and then fertilze it. It really helps the trees grow fasters.

    If you have a large yard you could go with a coop with a large chicken pasture that you can rotate to keep them from eating everything to the ground.
  6. gryeyes

    gryeyes Covered in Pet Hair & Feathers

    I built an A-frame coop, which is what most tractors are built like. Mine, however, was made out of 2x4s and 3/4 inch plywood, so it's heavier than.... Anything. So it is permanently there, where I built it. Handy for some things, but I think a real coop is far better.

    Hard to make roosts in a tractor, not enough headroom for the chickens. PIA to put down hardware cloth apron every time you move it, if you aren't covering the whole bottom pen section with hardware cloth. I don't think it's all that great for their feet.

    Unless one whole side opens, how you gonna get a chicken out that evades capture? How about cleaning?

    Go for a coop. Every structure I have either built or purchased since has been a square or rectangular, four walled coop.
  7. jenesis536

    jenesis536 Songster

    Oct 3, 2010
    We built a chicken tractor that sits in one place because it is too heavy and cumbersome to move. We have it adjacent a pen and on the other side of the pen is our stationary 2nd coop.
  8. AuntieE

    AuntieE Chirping

    Mar 11, 2011
    Philipsburg, PA
    Thanks so much for all the input. I think the coop with a run will be the best option for us. DH hasn't been super excited about getting chickens, but he sees their good points, and is finally on board with the idea. Last night he asked me why I decided we needed chickens- why couldn't I just take up knitting or something? lol. Next step is getting it OK'd by the church board- hubby's a pastor and we live in the parsonage, so just need to make sure they don't mind us putting chickens in the yard. They're pretty laid-back, though, so it's more just a formality. Hopefully I'll be placing an order for chicks next week! [​IMG]

    Thanks again,
  9. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    Quote:I think that in your situation you would VERY STRONGLY be best off with a fixed coop (you can always *add* a day-tractor moveable pen for summertime use if you want).


    1) the only kind of tractor you can build for 6-8 hens will be pretty cramped for them, thus not so nice for them AND much more difficult to manage your air quality in wintertime than would be for a fixed-position permanent coop.

    2) your tractor will BECOME a fixed coop for at least 4 months per year ANYhow (quite likely longer, if you have early fall snow dumps and/or muddy springtime conditions).

    3) it is a lot easier to seriously predatorproof a fixed coop than a tractor.

    4) yes, tractors do leave a trail of "chickened" rectangles across your yard. How bad they are depends on how often you move the tractor and what your turf/soil/climate are like; but I can tell you that my original 4x7-footprint tractor with 3 hens, when moved daily, would leave about a week and a half's worth of pretty obvious thrashed area behind it, before the grass grew back.

    5) yes, it will leave a trail of poo all over your yard too, and in many conditions the poo can persist for weeks.

    There are certainly some good things about tractors, but *for your situation* I think that you would be really much more satisfied with a permanent coop, perhaps with a lightly-built 'day tractor' to get them out on some grass sometimes if you want. You can also bring the grass to THEM -- safe garden weedings and kitchen scraps can keep chickens quite well entertained if you put them in the run [​IMG]

    Good luck, have fun,

  10. elmo

    elmo Crowing

    May 23, 2009
    Wow! The big girls can really dig up the turf! I have 9 bantams that I put in a day tractor during the spring, summer and fall. There's no way they could do that kind of damage to the grass in only a couple of days. It took them several weeks to get rid of all the grass in their stationary runs.

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