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Easy, Quick to Build Chicken Tractor for Two

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Barry Natchitoches, Aug 23, 2011.

  1. Barry Natchitoches

    Barry Natchitoches Chillin' With My Peeps

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    (Actually, I'm using this tractor to house two ducks, but it could easily be used for chickens)


    I'm sorry, I don't know how to post pictures. But I'll try to describe it so you can "see" how it is built.


    I began with a collapsable wire dog cage that I bought for 70 bux at Tractor Supply. (Lowe's sells this same dog cage at about the same price.) Here's a link that shows you the dog cage that I bought:


    http://www.tractorsupply.com/pet-ca...pet-crate-23-in-w-x-36-in-l-x-25-in-h-2401464


    This crate comes with a plastic floor and some wiring underneath to hold the floor in place. But I wanted my ducks to be able to walk on the grass and eat bugs and stuff, so I don't use the sheet of plastic as a floor, and as for the wiring down bottom, I just took wire cutters and carefully cut that wire "flooring" out. That left me with a cage that had no bottom.


    Now, an easy to use Quackmobile (my term for the duck tractor) needs to be easy to lift and roll -- even with the birds still in it. And I don't want to have to pick their food and water trays up every time I want to move the thing either. That would get pretty old very quickly.


    So I took two wheels off of an old lawn mower that quit working a few years back. Then I got the appropriate metal pieces from Lowe's that allowed me to screw the wheels onto the end of the cage that is furthest from the cage's door.


    After I attached two wheels to one end of the cage, I took a 10 foot piece of 2 x 4 lumber and cut it in half. I took plastic wire ties to tie a 5 foot long piece of the lumber to the left, upper side of the cage; and I hooked the other 5 foot long piece of lumber to the right side of the cage. The cage is 3 feet long, which means that the two pieces of lumber extend 2 feet beyond the edge of the cage. That is, of course, about the same length that you find the handles of wheelbarrows to be. And, in fact, once I attach those two pieces of lumber to either side of the cage, the Quackmobile picks up and moves very similar to a wheelbarrow.


    Ducks need plenty of water, and they need more food than just the grass and bugs that they find on the ground each day as I move them around the yard. But at the same time, I'm not wanting to have to open up the Quackmobile and physically move their food and water dishes every time I move them. That would get old very quickly.


    So I went back to Tractor Supply and bought two aluminum bowls that easily screw on to the cage itself:


    http://www.tractorsupply.com/pet-ca...-trade-stainless-steel-pet-bowl-2-qt--2450609


    I placed one of these at both corners of the cage on the end that was near the wheels and away from the door. They screw on quite easily, and I adjusted the height of the bowls so that they were just the right height for my ducks.


    I fill both of these to the brim with water immediately after moving the birds, because I am bound to spill some of their water in the moving process, and besides, they spill most of their water out of the bowls before I even try to move them. Ducks are just messy drinkers. But I don't have to open the cage to do it -- I just use 20 ounce plastic soft drink bottles, filled with water, to fill the bowls. The bottle opening fits right nicely between the bars of the cage, so that it is easy as pie to fill their water bowls.


    I also want their duck food trough to move with the tractor too. So I built the trough myself out of some plastic house gutter material I had from when I put gutters on my house. I bought the two end pieces at Lowe's, cut the gutter tube the right size for the cage, and then fitted and glued the end pieces. That gives the ducks a perfect sized, perfect length, feeding trough that I screw into place at exactly the right height for the ducks to eat. I can drop crumble feed into the trough pretty easy as well from the top of the cage -- there's no need to bother opening the cage door.


    In this hot and sunny weather, the ducks need shade. So I just take that plastic floor that came with the cage and plop it on top of the cage, so it provides needed shade to the birds. If it is really hot and sunny, I may place a larger piece of plywood on top of that, so that they have even protection above them blocking the sun. Of course, THAT sun blocking material does have to be pulled off before I move the tractor. I suppose I could just take some dark colored plastic sheeting or something, drill holes in it, then tie it with wire tires to the wire on top of the cage to make a roof that I did not have to take off every time I went to moving the Quackmobile. But I haven't done that yet.


    Most of the time, I can't afford to let my ducks free range since I have an extensive organic garden that they can tear up. But every so often, I go outside to watch them play, and with me supervising them, I can allow them to go out side of the cage. When I want to let them out, I just open the door to the cage. Very easy to do.


    That's it -- an easy to build Quackmobile, perfect accommodations for two ducks. Since I already had the two wheels and the gutter tubing on hand before I started this project, I spent about $120 or so when it was all said and done. But it was really easy to build. The only hard part was attaching the wheels, but even that wasn't too hard once I bought the right parts to do it with.


    If I were going to keep chickens in it, I'd get a wooden dowel or the sawed off end of an old broom handle and stick it between the bars at the appropriate height and location to provide the chickens with a roost.


    But since I have ducks in there, I haven't put a roost in there.
     
  2. artsyrobin

    artsyrobin Artful Wings

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    would love to see pics, sounds like a good setup
     
  3. savingpurple

    savingpurple Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Did you use threaded rod for the axle between the wheels? I have a small crate from tsc, but it's too samll for my one hen that needs some extra healing weeks, but want her to be with the rest. Good idea you have, makes me wish I had bought a bigger one now. Good job..thanks for the ideas!
     
  4. dianaross77

    dianaross77 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 10, 2010
    Grand Blanc, MI
    You can get those wire dog crates on ebay too. They have lots of great deals. I got my 36 in 3 door crate for around $40 with shipping.
     
  5. Barry Natchitoches

    Barry Natchitoches Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Savingpurple,


    Here is details on how I attached the lawn mower wheels:


    Each wheel is mounted on one flat bar that runs down the cage, plus an L bracket that goes on the back of the cage in such a fashion that the wheels go between the left and right L bracket/flat bar combos.

    These L brackets can be found at better hardware stores. They are predrilled with 5/16 inch holes. But what I did was I enlarged the end hole to 1/2 inch. Then I took two old lawn mower wheels and got 1/2 inch bolts that were 3 and 1/2 inches long and mounted each wheel onto its respective L bracket with a lock nut. I used flat washers as needed for spacing.

    I pre-greased the bolts before actually putting this together to provide lubrication to prevent wear against the plastic of the lawn mower wheel. Then I fastened the two bars onto the cage with 5/16 inch bolts that were one inch long, and I used fender washers, lock washers, and lock nuts to fasten the bars to the cage.


    Mounted this way, the wheels do NOT raise the cage off of the ground. And placed on the opposite side of the cage away from where the two wooden handles extend out, it makes it quite easy to move the cage. It's just like moving a two wheeled wheelbarrow, and as long as you don't move too fast, the ducks just walk right along as you move the cage.
     
  6. Cetawin

    Cetawin Chicken Beader

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    This is for daytime use only right? Sounds like a neat quackmobile for ranging time. Would love to see pics of it.
     
  7. wolftracks

    wolftracks Spam Hunter

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    If you email me the pics I can post them for you.
     
  8. Barry Natchitoches

    Barry Natchitoches Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:I wish.


    These two ducks were given to my seven year old daughter when they were three days old. They are now 7 weeks old.


    I'm over run with chickens right now (about 30, separated into two different chicken yards -- Chicken Stalags, as my wife calls them --and two different permanent henhouses), plus I have a huge organic garden where I try to grow at least 33% to 40% of the entire amount of food my family eats in a year.


    Oh, did I mention that i live in a suburban area (suburban Memphis, TN), not a farm?


    I don't have space to build them a true building of their own, and I really don't have the time or skill to do it either. (My brother is the skilled one who builds the henhouses around here, and right now, he's unavailable).


    But these two little guys (or gals?) were going to be culled if we didn't take them.


    So we took them, and I built them this Quackmobile, and will let them live in the garden -- confined, except when we have time to go out there and allow them to free range under supervision.


    Fortunately, we have good back yard fencing to keep predators (including neighbor dogs) OUT, so it's not like a dog, fox or a raccoon is gonna dig into their cage in the middle of the night.


    And also, fortunately, we're in the south, so winters usually don't get very bad around here. If the winter gets really bad for a short spell, we'll build temporary wind breaks using square bales of hay and plywood to cover the top.


    By moving them everyday, they won't be in one place long enough to destroy the soil, and they will have fresh bugs and grass to eat every day.


    It's not the best situation in the world, but it's better than the two quackers being culled by the folks that gave them to us.
     
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2011
  9. savingpurple

    savingpurple Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Looked for the bowls we sell at tsc like you described....figures we are out. Have to build a chicken tractor for my hen to get her back into the flock.

    Thanks for the advice on the wheel part. Figure I may need my invention again, so not to waste it, as my sister told me yesterday her banty hen is sitting on 27 eggs....she couldn't locate her nest until then...LOL So....may have a few more chickens coming my way, and will build this right now:)

    Thanks so much. I ended up getting a taken apart, somewhat cheap wood from work that something was crated in. It should be able to be rebuilt, and then I have the left over chicken wire to cover it. Will cover one end, so if it rains while at work, she has cover, and on that end, I can always cover it with a tarp, so it is rain proof...

    I can see what I want, but don't have the abiliity to build it. So...a new project comes to life.....thank you....[​IMG]
     
  10. discoveregg

    discoveregg Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 15, 2011
    Northern Idaho
    I picked up one of those dog pens for $15.00 at a yard sale a few weeks ago [​IMG] I had no idea they were so expensive, I just thought it would be a good idea to have one for a quarentine cage if I ever needed one. But I really love your tractor invention [​IMG]
    You really need to POST SOME PICS [​IMG] I'm a visual person and can construct anything if I can just see it! Please, please, please!
     

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