How to Build a Chicken Tractor

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My friend Heather from Massachusetts is super crafty and recently put together this chicken tractor for her four hens. I thought it was pretty neat so I asked her to share how she built it.

diy chicken tractor

Here’s what she had to say:

Usually the chickens do a bang-up job with pest control. We saw a huge difference in just one summer with chickens eating ticks like a kid eating cotton candy. But, since we’ve added strawberries and blueberry bushes to the backyard I’m thinking we won’t be able to let them free-range as much as they’ll free-range all my fruit right off the stems! ;)

Plus the lil’ stinkers keep sneaking into the front yard, so I needed to the build something to contain them that’s movable, foldable and lightweight so they can play in the yard but not get into trouble. Enter Pinterest – it really is a magical collections of ideas and style. I love building projects!

how to build a chicken tractor

Project Equipment:

  • Drill
  • Decking screws
  • Staple gun
  • Staples
  • Plastic garden fence
  • 4  8×2″ boards
  • 6 44″x 2″ boards
  • 8 18″x2″ boards
  • 1 12″x12″ plywood cut diagonally

chicken tractor

Directions

Frankly, when Mavis asked me to write directions on how to make a chicken tractor, I grimaced. Directions? I thought, hmmmm, I totally “winged it”. But alas, directions she needed:

1) -Lay out the 8’ pieces of wood parallel and measure fencing along the length (remember, the wood is from the odds-n-ends pile, so measure it to the length of the wood). That’s right, no measuring tape, it’s in the shed and it’s cold out there.

2) -Staple the long ends of the fencing to the wood. This is a bit tedious – don’t give up. Next staple the 44” wood pieces along the sides and in the center. You now have two rectangles of fencing outlined in wood side by side.

3) -You’ll notice it’s still pretty floppy – that’s what the 18” pieces are for, they make the rectangles sturdy. Attach them with the deck screws to all eight outside corners (pssst: this is the part where you DON’T screw threw the carpet!)

4) -And yet it’s still a little floppy (can you see now the “wingin’ it” portion of this project? Yes that’s right, I made another trip to HD :) ) The plywood triangles in the center will fix the floppiness once and for all – screw those suckers on (again, just the wood, not the carpet).

5) -Time to put the two rectangles together by screwing the hinges on. I used three hinges, which seemed to work well. Flip the whole thing over and screw them onto the underside of the triangle chicken tractor. You’ll want it to fold in flat – if the hinges are on the outside it won’t fold (says she who did this part three times.)

6) -This is the truly tricky part and you may want to bribe, eer, ask a nearby teenager for help. Set the chicken tractor up in what you think is a good angle, because once you staple the fencing on at the ends, that’s the degree of opening the chicken tractor will open. I set mine up, had the aforementioned recruited teenager hold the fencing in place, and cut the angle on one side. This part is very important: remember when you learned to sew and you had to leave extra material for the seam? Same thing here, you’ll need to leave about an extra 2” worth onto the inside of the frame to staple to the frame. Staple this first side. Then flip it back over, find the angle again, find the teenager, KEEP THE NETTING LEVEL ON THE GROUND, mentally add 2” (because the measuring tape in in the shed) and cut the other end. Flip it over again and staple, staple, staple.

7) -For the other end, follow the same process, which should be easier this time. Although the teenager may be a bit whiney by now – pull your mom-card and finish this up. You can do it! Important: don’t staple the second end all the way up, you’ll need a way to get the chickens in! I left about 18” of one corner un-stapled for a door. I use a bit of Velcro to close it when they’re inside.

8) – Stand back and admire you’re work – well done!

how to make a chicken tractor

Truth be told I put these hinges on three times {ssshhh don’t tell anyone} – put them on the underside of your tractor so it folds up together.

chicken tractor

I love my drill. I know, I’m a dork. When doing this project, remember, it doesn’t have to be perfect. But if you’re building it in the living room make sure the screw is shorter than the depth of the two pieces of wood so you won’t punch through to the carpet!

chicken tractor

BAHAHAhaaaa – works as a teenager tractor also!

~ Heather

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Comments

  1. cool, i bet you could use fabric and the kids could have a club house and it can be packed flat to put away. nice.

  2. Serina Chea says:

    My dad made one of these, when I was growing up! We had chickens, duck, and geese at different points and I think my dad did this so he wouldn’t have to mow the lawn as much! HaHa

  3. Heather from MA says:

    Casey, that’s a great idea. If you secured the fabric to a surface before you assembled it and used a light fabric, the kids could decorate it too!

  4. Heather from MA says:

    Serina, your dad was brilliant! When the chickens (ducks or geese) fill up on grass and protein (bugs) they eat less feed which makes them cheaper to care for. Plus A LOT less ticks and spiders to worry about with kids and dogs playing in the yard!

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