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Budget Chicken Tractor Build

How we built our chicken tractor for under $150

Here we are on our little homestead - our very first year with meat birds! Early spring, April-May is usually very busy for me with garden prep and clean up so I ordered our birds to arrive mid-June through our local feed supply store. We got 30 birds and they would be shipped from Bonnie's Chick Hatchery in Elmira Ontario. The type we got are called White Rocks.

Knowing I would soon be driving home with a box full of little yellow fluffs - I got busy brainstorming where I would be able to house them for the short time we would have them here. I knew I wanted a chicken tractor for them. The purpose of a tractor is to basically have your chickens be able to free range (to and extent) eat grass and bugs - all with the added protection from predators! I truly believe that this the best solution and compromise between giving them the best possible life while they are here, and protecting your investment before the birds get processed.

Originally, I had drawn out plans to build a tractor out of cattle panels and a wooden bottom frame, when I came across an old kennel on Facebook Marketplace listed as free scrap. It was pretty large 9x13ft, and included a hinged door with a flip lock. Much bigger than we need this year, but I wanted to think ahead into the next years if we do this again on a bigger scale. The kennel was covered with a galvanized chicken type wire, although it did have sections that were torn and areas missing pieces. We decided we could make this work and it would eliminate the cost the the cattle panels and majority of the upper frame so we hooked up our trailer and picked it up!

Dog kennel
Dog kennel that we got from Facebook Marketplace

Tractors need to be as secure as possible while still light enough that you can move them without struggling too much. We didn't feel that we would physically need to be able to walk around inside the tractor- just as long as we can reach inside to replenish food and water for the birds. For this reason, we began by removing all the wire from the bottom to about half way up, and then removed the entire lower section of the frame (about the bottom 4 feet or so.) Some of the steel tubing came apart easily, as it was just together with a hole and spring button system. And, the rest we had to cut ourselves with a hack saw - specifically around the door and the door itself had to be taken off and cut shorter.

This removed a lot of the weight because the entire frame was now only half the height. Next, we added a simple 2x4 wooden frame around the bottom by drilling holes through both the metal tubing and the 2x4s and then securing with a bolt and nut on each of the metal "legs". We just secured the corners with construction screws. We also drilled a couple holes in our wooden frame to secure a rope that we would use as a pull.

I repaired any holes in the existing wire cover and we also added 2x3 fencer wire for extra protection. One fifty foot roll covered the entire tractor perfectly and I used heavy duty zip ties to secure everything. Then, we added our wheels using a homemade lever system - let me know if you'd like to know more about this! I plan on doing a tractor tour over on my instagram. When you flip the lever up and against the wooden block it pushes the wheels into the ground, lifting the back end of the tractor off the grass for easy moving! We added a small piece of lattice to the door to beef it up a little bit, and also attached a tarp to half of the run for shade and protection from the elements.

While the chickens are still on the small size I will simply open the door and set their food and water inside on the grass. At this point, the tractor is only getting moved every day or so. As they start to get bigger (more munchin' and more poopin' = more movin' around) I'll attach the feeders to hang from the frame with a hook so that they move along with the tractor when we start to have to move it a few times a day - just for convenience!

Do you have a chicken tractor on your homestead? I would love to hear about your build! Let me know if you have an questions at all. All together, with the use of salvaged material, this build cost us approximately $150. I like to keep track of any spending including the cost of the birds and feed throughout the process so that I will be able to determine which each bird cost to put into our freezer.

Fencer wire roll Home Depot - $54.98

11 inch Heavy duty zip ties Home Depot - $14.87

12x16 all purpose poly tarp Princess Auto $23.99

Tires Princess Auto $19.99 x 2 = $39.98


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