Chicken Tractor Build
Chicken tractors are a great way to house your chickens in a contained space while giving them access to plenty of fresh grass, bugs and air. Since these chicken coops are portable they provide your chickens with new outdoor space but keep them from ruling the roost on your entire property.
We decided to build a chicken tractor for our new flock of heritage breed chickens because it is good for the chickens and good for our ground.
Giving the chickens access to a new patch of land every few days gives them new food resources as well as moves them away from any contaminants that build up over time. Also, moving chickens across our property helps keep down weeds and fertilizes the ground.
This chicken tractor is 6 feet wide, 10 feet long and 5 feet tall. It has a 2 foot high rectangle base, with the top angling in like a triangle. The back section of the tractor is a 2.5 foot elevated coop. The coop has metal roofing for the sides and front, with wood boards for the back.
Since the chicken tractor is portable it has two wheels on the back corners of the coop. To move the tractor we stand inside the door frame, lift the front end and roll it forward. We remove the wheels from the spoke after moving so that the tractor lays flush on the ground and no predators can get in.
We currently have 8 chickens living in this coop and may add a few more.
We made the design for this chicken tractor based on the materials we had on hand around the farm, which kept costs down. If you are looking to build this chicken tractor, I recommend using it as inspiration and make adjustments to fit any free materials you can find. However, here is an idea of what materials you need to build this chicken tractor:
1- 50 foot roll of chicken wire
1 – 2X4 piece of welded wire
13 – 10 foot 2X4s
6 – 10 foot strapping (1X3)
14 – 8 foot spruce boards 1X6
Metal roofing – Approximately 10 feet of 24 inch wide roofing and 20 feet of 36 inch wide roofing.
5 hinges, 2 latches, handle
2 bolts and 2 nuts
Step 1: Build Frame
To start we used old greenhouse benches to build the base frame of our tractor, however if you are starting from scratch here is what to do.
To begin, make a long rectangle for one side of the base frame. Use two 10 foot 2X4’s for the top and bottom of the rectangle. For the short ends of the rectangle and middle supports cut out 6 pieces (2X4’s) that are 2 feet long. Screw one of these pieces to both ends of the 10 foot boards to create a long rectangle. Then space out the remaining 4 pieces 2 feet apart inside the rectangle for support, and screw them in place.
Repeat the process to create the other long side of the base frame.
Build one end frame by first laying out a 6 foot 2X4, this will be the bottom board that runs along the ground. Cut 9 2-foot pieces of 2X4.
At each end of the 6 foot board place a 2 foot piece perpendicular to it, screw them in place. At each end, add another 2 foot piece on the inside of the last, so that they are tight against each other and screw this board to the other one. Measure in 2 feet from each end of the 6 foot board and place a 2 foot piece perpendicular to it, screw them in place. Now, on each end lay a 2 foot piece along the top parallel with the 6 foot board, to form a square on each end. Screw the boards in place.
The empty middle space is where the door frame goes. From a 2X4 cut two 5 foot pieces, put them inside of the squares, punching them tight up against the sides. Connect the top of the 5 foot pieces with a 2 foot piece. Screw the boards all in place.
Repeat the process to make the frame for the other end of the tractor.
Now that all four sides have been made it is time to attach them. Stand up one end piece and one side piece, butt the side piece up against the end piece, lining it up to make a corner and screw them together. In the same way attach the other side piece. Lastly, prop the other end piece up against the two sides, make things flush in the corners and screw it in place, to complete the base frame.
Brace the frame.
To make the coop square and stronger it is important to brace the corners of the frame.
For this a carpentry square comes in very handy. Put the square inside one of the corners of the tractor frame, along the top 2X4 of the base rectangle. Pull the two sides into the square tool to make the corner square and screw a supporting brace in place. For the brace we just used some 1X3 strapping that was around 2 feet long.
Repeat this process in all four corners of the tractor. We will be removing the back two eventually, however it is important to have the tractor square before moving on with the rest of the build.
To frame in the top of the chicken tractor run a 10 foot 2X4 from the top centre of one door frame to the other, making a centre beam. At both top corners of the door frame, along the sides, run a 10 foot piece of strapping down to the top corners of the door frame on the other end. These pieces of strapping will give you something to attach the chicken wire to.
There are 4 boards on each side of the tractor that frame in the sides. To begin cut 8, 49 inch pieces of 1X3 strapping. Cut one end of these pieces at a 60° angle so they lay flush against the top frame.
On both ends, take one of the 1X3 pieces, line it up with the top corner of the door frame and run it down to the top corner of the side rectangle. Screw the boards in place, the board will overhang slightly. Measure 4 feet over from the front end of the chicken tractor and in the same way add another 1X3 piece. Again measure 4 feet over and in the same way add another 1X3 piece.
Repeat the process for the other side of the chicken tractor.
Step 2: Build Coop Section
We mainly used old metal roofing to build the coop section, however we also used spruce boards for the back wall. The coop end of the tractor is the end with the 1X3 side framing spaced 2 feet apart. From the back end of the tractor measure in 2 feet (this should be where a side 1X3 piece is) and add a 6 foot 2X4 across the width at the same height as the base rectangle. Screw the board in place.
Measure the distance between the board you just added and the back frame and cut 2 pieces of 2X4 at the length. Evenly space these two pieces to make the structure for the coop floor and screw them in place.
Use a heavy gage wire, with holes small enough for the chickens to walk on, as the floor of the coop. Cut a piece that is 4 feet long and 2 feet wide and secure it to the floor frame. This leaves ⅓ of the coop floor open for the chickens to get up into it.
Now it is time to add the back spruce wall. We used 6 foot spruce boards and screwed them to the back side of the chicken coop. We started at the bottom. Screwing them on at the studs, and then continued up without any space between them.
Since there was not much to screw into along the edge of the triangle section of the back wall we added some support. Along the edge of both angled sides, on the inside of the spruce wall, we screwed on 1X3 pieces to hold all of the spruce boards together.
Next we used a reciprocating saw to trim off the overhanging spruce board pieces.
Use the remaining pieces of spruce to board in the sides beneath the coop. Cut the boards into 2 foot pieces and add them to the back sides of the base rectangle under the coop section. This gives the chickens added shelter from the elements.
Next it is time to make the hatch in the back side of the coop. The hatch is 4 feet wide and two boards high. Cut 4 pieces of 1X3 at 10 inches long. Screw these to the inside of the coop, centring them between the two boards that will be the hatch. Use 1¼ screws so they do not poke through. These boards will hold the door together. Now, use a jigsaw to cut the ends of the hatch door, this will result in a hole and a door.
Attach the door back in place with two hinges. We used hinges that stay open so the door holds itself up. Lastly add a latch to keep the hatch closed.
Before adding the metal roofing to the front side of the coop, add a piece of 2X4 along the top of the coop where the metal will be attached so you have something to screw it to.
To cut our metal roofing to the proper shape we held it in place on the coop and used a marker to trace the outline of the coop. Then we used a reciprocating saw and cut along the lines we drew. Once the piece was cut out we screwed it to the front side of the coop.
Finally, we cut 2 pieces of roofing to be the width of the coop section and approximately 5 feet long. We just left our roofing at 5 feet since it was already that length but you could make it shorter to have less of an overhang. We placed the metal flush with the top of the coop and screwed the both pieces in place.
Step 3 : Add chicken wire
This part is fairly straightforward, just add the chicken wire to the open section of the tractor. We used a staple gun and carpentry staples to attach the chicken wire. Add chicken wire to the entire section, leaving the very top open for the roof and the front door frame open for adding the door.
Step 4 : Roof, door, and wheels
Cut a 3 foot wide and 10 foot long piece of metal roofing. Centre it on the top of the coop and screw it in place. The metal will hang over the edge of the top, which gives the chickens added shelter from rain and sun.
To build the front door measure the size of the opening and make a wood frame slightly smaller than the opening. We used random wood from our shop but you could use the 1X3 strapping for this since it is light. Since the door frame is approximately 2 feet by 5 feet make the door approximately this size or ¼ inch smaller.
Once the door is built staple chicken wire onto the back side of the door. Hold the door in place and screw on the two hinges. Once the door is hung screw on the latch and a handle.
If you want to keep the door from swinging in add a thin strip of wood on the inside of the door frame, so the door bumps up against it when closed.
For wheels we originally used ones from an old lawnmower, however we found these to be too small so we bought some larger ones. They are 8 inch solid plastic wheels which we bought at Princess Auto.
To attach the wheels to the chicken tractor first drill a ⅝ inch hole in each back corner. Drill the hole on the side, in the 2X4 of the back frame, approximately 1½ inches in and 1½ inches up from the ground. Drilling from the inside out will help ensure you do not drill into another board.
Once the holes are drilled put the (½ inch diameter and 8 inch long) bolts through from the inside out. You will need someone to lift up on the back end of the coop for you to slide the wheels on the bolts. Once the wheels are on thread on the nuts to keep the wheels in place.
We remove our wheels after we move the chicken tractor so that it lays on the ground and no predators get in or chickens get out.
Step 5 : Roost and Ramp
We used some scrap wood to make a roost inside the coop. A 2X2 piece of wood, stick or anything the chickens can perch on would work well for this. Since our chickens are still young we made our roost only about 10 inches high, but as they grow we will likely add roosts higher up. To make our roosts we cut 2, 10 inch long pieces of 2X2 and 1 piece 4 feet long. We attached the short piece to the ends of the long piece and screwed the whole thing to the floor of the coop.
For the ramp we again used pieces of wood that we had on hand, however one of the 1X6 spruce boards would work well. We cut a board 3 feet long and added little strips of wood crossways like a ladder so the chickens have some grip for walking up.
We attached the ramp to the coop with a hinge so that the ramp would still lay level with the ground when we moved the chicken tractor. We attached the ramp to the open floor section of the coop, along the edge next to the wire floor so the chickens can step easily off the ramp. Also we added a hook to the bottom of the coop and the hook eye to the side of the ramp so we can hook up the ramp before we move the tractor.
Step 6 : Nest Boxes
The final step of building the chicken tractor is to add nest boxes. We have not yet built our nest boxes because our chickens are not laying yet. We will be building them soon and have some ideas for it.
We first considered just putting a nest box in the back corner of the coop and having the roosts on the other side. It is not good to put the roosts right over the nest boxes because the chickens will poop into the nest boxes.
Another option is to remove the back hatch door and build a bump out box for the nest boxes and put the hatch back on for the cover. This is likely what we will do and make it out of the 1X6 spruce boards.
I hope this chicken tractor building guide has helped you build your own beautiful and functional home for your chickens!
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Hey, I’m Maggie. I hope you will join me and my family in getting back to the land. Here you will learn about making things yourself, cooking homegrown food, and beginning a homesteading journey.