Looking for plans for a chicken tractor.

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by NurseNettie, Jun 8, 2011.

  1. NurseNettie

    NurseNettie Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I'm going to read through all the posts here, but wanted to put out my question too-- I'm looking for written (photo too perhaps) plans for a simple, efficient chicken tractor that hubby can build. He needs a hobby that can provide a bit of income (I convinced him to leave his horrible night job, to stay home and work "the farm"), and I've noticed a lot of discussion about chicken tractors at some recent chicken swaps. Seems a lot of folks (even here in the "country" in Northern Maine) are considering tractors- but freight shipping to Northern Maine can be really pricey-- as we're 3 to 6 hours away from any of the major shipping "hubs". I'd like him to build a demo model that I can take to swaps to show, and see if we can't get a few orders. If nothing else, we'll have a tractor for my 4 banties that are currently in a barn coop with little time "out", since the big hens and BIG rooster free range.

    I'm hoping for free plans, but all my searches are coming up with are plans to purchase--without actually seeing much of what the coops have for features.

    So-- for the builders out there- what have you built? What worked? What did you like, hate, or what would you want to change if you could? What materials worked well for you? What did you find that really didn't work at all? What were your costs for materials?

    For you builder/ sellers-- I'd, naturally, be interested in hearing what your profits were (cost versus what you could reasonably sell for). Hubby "putters" a lot-- so this would be a project to work on, go do something else, then work more. We're not truly concerned so much about getting paid for "time", but then again, most craft-type work never pays for the time you put in. It would just be nice to earn some extra cash to buy some more tools and equipment for the "farm", and get a bit deeper into true "homesteading"

    For those using tractors-- what designs work well for you? What features or designs are more of a pain than they are worth? What is most easily movable? How many birds do you keep in your tractor?

    Yes-- lots of questions, but would like to hear about them from all angles [​IMG]

    Your help is greatly appreciated [​IMG]
     
  2. triplepurpose

    triplepurpose Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Here's a picture of our chicken tractor. Since I took this, aside from some minor repairs and insignificant modifications, I've added four small "runners" made of two-by-fours with bevelled front edges, so that it slides easier. I also put better perches in. the wooden frame and the nesting box were made with reclaimed wood. The green shade cloth on top was extra from another project. It doesn't provide perfect rain protection, but this is a tropical climate so that's not a hazard, and besides it can always be covered entirely or partially with tarp or similar for full waterproofing or warmth if desired. It's one of the simplest designs I know of. This tractor has housed up to half a dozen full grown chickens happily enough, but then I had to move it at least once a day. So around three is more comfortable. I typically use it for immature birds, anyone who needs to be separated or quarantined for any reason, or as a "bachelor pad" for cockerels to keep them away from the hens and stop them from fighting. We run it through our gardens for them to eat leftovers post harvest and fertilize, or through our orchard. It ain't much to look at, but it was cheap as heck, pretty simple to build, and works great. I don't know if this is the sort of thing you're looking for or not, but, here's some pictures:

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    And here's a link to a HUGE gallery of chicken tractors. No schematic plans, but loads of good ideas:
    http://home.centurytel.net/thecitychicken/tractors.html

    Hope this helps! Good luck!
     
  3. bryan99705

    bryan99705 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Suggest you list what you want and need based on number of birds, terrain, weather, $s, etc and just look at as many designs as you can and gather ideas till you decide what is best for you and your prospective clients. A tractor is simply a big wire cage with a box for a coop inside that can be rolled, carried, or drug easily. Anything beyond that is the builder's imagination and what works here may be useless there.
     
  4. suzyQlou

    suzyQlou Chillin' With My Peeps

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    My Coop
    Only one thing that really didn't work out for me so far. I love the cost, look, and weight of a PVC hooped-type coop (like the beautiful one Sky the Chicken Man posted). I'm not sure if this would happen to you in Maine, but I was building in the cold PA springtime. The pipes didn't hold up to the combination of cold weather and tension. They snapped at the top, and left me with a triangle.

    Other than that, I'm still experimenting. I'm finding "light weight" doesn't really exist. Every time I turn around, I'm adding stuff to make the chickens more secure and the coop more weather-proof. Big wheels seem to be the answer. I definitely need to be able to move this thing by myself every day. The chickens do just under the minimum amount of damage to the lawn in a day to keep my husband from freaking out.

    Go ahead and browse through the tractors on the coop pages. Put together some plans, and ask again. I've noticed this board is really good at helping troubleshoot. Starting out is tricky because so many designs work well in different circumstances.

    Good luck! Building this tractor has been much more work than I expected. I would definitely order one next time if it were big enough, portable enough, and sturdy enough for my three backyard birds.
     
  5. NurseNettie

    NurseNettie Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Skythechickenman-- nice tractor-- that might work for my banty's that need a bit of space-- though, the plastic could be an issue in the cold, as suzyqlou mentioned.

    Thanks for your suggestions bryan- I do know what tractors do, and their basics, but I also know that through trial and error, there are many people here who could offer suggestions bases on their successes and failures- which is why I posted [​IMG] We can all share and help avoid some of the same mistakes.

    I'll keep plugging along and see what I can find, and check in on other's suggestions here.

    Thank you all.
     
  6. brx017

    brx017 Out Of The Brooder

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    Taylorsville, NC
    I am working on designing a very efficient-to-build tractor. It's an A-Frame type with a "loft roost". My current design only takes (8) 10ft 2x4s, (1) full sheet of plywood, (2) pieces of 3 ft wide x 8 ft long roofing tin, and (35) feet of 2ft chicken wire / hardware cloth, plus typical hardware (hook and eyes, hinges, etc.). It finishes out 4ft x 8ft, with a 3ft x 5ft loft space... 32 sq ft of run and 15 sq ft of coop. Another option would be a 3 ft x 4 ft loft, and only use (1) piece of 3 ft wide x 10 ft long tin, and increase the chicken wire to about (50) feet.

    I have the plans drawn up in CAD, but I haven't built one yet to see how sturdy it would be. I believe it will be strong enough for daily use, but worst case it may take (2) more 2x4s.
     
  7. Barred Babies

    Barred Babies Red Roof Farms

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    Mines kinda like Sky's!! I built this for 6 meaties!! Worked great. I moved it every couple of days!!

    [​IMG]

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