Chicken Tractor — 42 Comments

  1. i love finding this chicken talk on your website terrie.

    one of thee of these days!!! i'm going to get chickens!

  2. This is the most practical chicken tractor I have found that would work on our long grassed terrain…big wheels a bonus…could I possibly find the building instructions for this one..measurements at the least? Thank you!!

    I have not been able to keep chickens here safely as we have Golden Eagles nesting nearby…this would work! Blessings to you and yours, Cynthia

    • Cynthia,
      It measures about 13' long. Size the lower caged portion to house your number of birds and the same goes for the upper section, to give ample roosting space. Two main design considerations:
      1) Center the weight of the house over the axel. The added weight of the caged section will keep the thing on the ground.
      2) Use some method of raising and lowering the wheels so you will have clearance when you move it. Unless you place the wheels way out front of the unit, you will not get adequate ground clearance and in setting them out that far, you will be lifting the entire weight of the unit plus the chickens, feed and water. Don't do that! Give me a call if you want more suggestions.

  3. 5 stars on the Ultimate Chicken Tractor!

    I seek, I find! Just what I needed for some design input! I really like the stepped design you have with a straight-forward approach for weight distribution and access. It's obvious there was a lotta thought and past experience injected to yield such a tool.

    Mine is a 4X12X8 1-1/4" sqr. tubing homebrew. Weighs about 1k lbs. with nestboxes and food/water stations filled. Handles 8 eggers & it's hell-for-stout. It's a challenge to move, need to scale it down, split it in two, 4 eggers in two instead of altogether, hmmm… Uneven terrain and soft ground cause problems moving mine. Long, light pens in front followed by food/water stations, with nests & egg collection in back…should work well with the square tubing. More examination is in order! Thanks!

  4. If this had bigger, hardier wheels and a strong axle, would it work to make the straight wood underneath tuck under for moving so ground clearance would be higher? I have the same issue Joe does: uneven, soft terrain.

    Originally I thought the handle beam itself could be puzzled with the end at a fulcrum point so it would catch a projecting rod when lifetd and make for an increased angle, but that would change the structure of the front…I am planning to make this one, it's the best I've seen after hours of looking!

  5. Like most of you all after looking at hundreds if not more of coops this one has "It all" how can I get plans? What kind of heating lamps are installed. I have a few questions if anyone can help or if the designer can contact me. [email protected] put mint coop in the subject box. THANKS! PS I could not find those large wheels and opted for hard rubber 10' wheels.

  6. After 4 years of pretty great luck free-ranging our little flock, this past week we have lost 2 and one is barely alive after an attack last night. Despite having 3 dogs, we think a nervy fox or coyote has bellied up to the bar. Fencing is an option, but closest area to coop would be denuded in no time and the girls love the grass, as do a duck and goose that share quarters. I would greatly appreciate obtaining the PDF for your drawings as well. Thank you so much.

    • I don’t really have much in the way of plans. I designed this while building…some on cad, some on a piece of plywood which is a little difficult to download. Here are some dimensions and a few specifics which, when used in conjunction with the website photos, should give you a pretty good idea where to go. Please get back to me with your ideas and pictures of your progress. I’m a believer in the benefits of “Open Source Chicken Tractors”.
      The main distinguishing characteristics of this design are the offset axle (raising the tractor 4” off the ground when moving) and the “daggerboard” that opens and closes from the outside providing security for the chickens at night without having to reach inside to close the door. (Since original construction I have changed the daggerboard to a piece of ¼” acrylic sheet. The original piece of ¼” plywood, even with fiberglass coating, wore from use and then swelled with water and chicken goo.) The chickens can hunker down and get through a relatively short headroom. Figure the angle of their ramp vs. the size of cutout in the bottom of their house to give them adequate clearance…without cutting too much of the floor away. I would modify my original design by making the back end of the house open up much wider for easier cleaning access while still maintaining the diagonal stability offered by that back wall. The little 6” tall flap I have for cleaning is not adequate access.
      I coated the interior of the house with fiberglass for cleaning and durabilitiy purposes. This has proved very beneficial. In addition, the little chicken mites than can infest your lovely hens hide out in the pores and crevices of the wood so sealing the structure will help thwart their efforts.
      Don’t forget to send me pictures and plans of your new improved chicken tractors.
      If you building something, send me a picture.

  7. Boy Scout Eagle Project for Crowley Nature Museum in Manatee County Florida. We can use all the updates and ideas that are available to make a demonstration (full operating model with chickens and chicks) portable chicken coop for this farm museum and to share with visitors who want to build their own.

    Thank you for pioneering this design. I will be asking my High School to allow me to use this as my agriculture project as well as my Eagle Scout project requirement.

    Will send you the write up when it is completed. Derek

    • Hello Derek,
      I didn’t see your post for a long time for some reason. All of the details that I have written down are posted throughout this thread in addition to comments about improvements. Start with the wheels and your center of gravity. Larger the wheel diameter the better for rough terrain.

  8. Yours is definitely the nicest looking chicken tractor I have seen. I am trying to put some plans together to build something similar and I wondered about a few things. Is the nest box opening at all restricted by the roof overhang of the main building? How wide is the building? I’m guessing around 5 feet? would it be possible for you to post a few more pictures of your wonderful tractor? Maybe one with the nest box open? It would be greatly appreciated. You mentioned a few things you would change. (larger opening for cleaning) Are there any other changes or words of advise you would give to someone starting out on this project?
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts and design.

    • We built the width of the tractor to correspond to the width of our garden beds so the chickens could till the garden after harvest. Our beds are four feet wide so I made the tractor wheels come down just outside that.
      I’d definitely make a wider access on the back wall for easy cleaning and I would take the fiberglass further up the walls to make for easier cleaning as well as frustrate the efforts of the mites to hide in the crevices. They are hard to get rid of and they wreak havoc on the chickens…at least up here in Western Washington. The nest box roof rubs a bit against the upper roof overhang when open, so, yes, I would extend the piece that receives the next box roof to give more clearance. I had planned to put a little ridge on that piece to stop water from running in the laying box, but the water hasn’t been much of a concern, at least not enough to make it to the top of my list. All the research I did on laying box sizes, etc, proved to not be terribly important. With eight to ten hens, almost all of them will choose to lay in the same box. The apparently cooperate and take turns. So maybe we DO have something to learn from them!
      Remember, I’m writing all this so that I’ll get to see pictures of your chicken tractors and your happy chickens. Let me see what you’re creating.

  9. We are in the process of building a version of your chicken tractor, Terrie, for our family chickens. We love it! Thank you for sharing! We are planning our design around the mechanics of the wheel as you suggested, but want to get your proportions right so it has the same look. We’ve downloaded your drawings, but have a few other questions if that’s okay…How wide is the coop? What is the height of the coop (without the run and wheel space underneath)? What is the roof’s pitch? Is there a benefit to having the one, covered opening into the nesting boxes instead of smaller openings into each box? We have a piece of masonite bead board (without the bead) that we could use on the floor of the coop. Would that make the chickens lame or have other drawbacks?

    • It was nice to talk with you on the phone. I’d love to see some photos of what you come up with..maybe post what you have learned and more dimensions. I’d like to post more detail, but it doesn’t ever get to the top of the proverbial list.

  10. I’ve looked at many chicken tractors and really like yours, anyway I could get a copy of the plans? Thank you!

    • Hi Kathy,
      Scroll down through the comments (like a little treasure hunt) and you’ll find a number of comments as well as a link to some somewhat cryptic, though I believe helpful, cad drawings. I’ve tried to provide enough information for a successful design while allowing modifications for your weather,geography and number of birds. Give me holler back if you need more input. Once again, I keep asking for photos of your creations. I’d love to see what you come up with. If you’re not a welder, chumming up with a welder is the first place to begin. It doesn’t require much welding, but that offset axle and wheels are where the design begins.

  11. Love your tractor. My husband is a carpenter and is willing to give this a try for me (lucky me!), but we are a little muddled by the axle/wheel. Do you have any pictures of the tractor with the wheels set down, ready to move? Do they lock into place somehow? Do they sit under the fenced portion or just behind it? Also, the trap door, do you have a picture or can you describe how it locks closed for the night?

    Thank you!

    • Hello Kaori,
      Your befuddlement is justified…There is a minor piece not showing in these photos, but easy to explain. I think I was using a small screw in the beginning which you can’t see. Here’s the design objective: If you pull the handle from its down,horizontal position and up to its vertical/wheels contacting ground position, you can’t let go because the whole tractor is essentially balanced on the wheels like a unicycle. Just allow the handle to pull past vertical by about 10 degrees an install any kind of solid stop at that point. I have since installed a piece of steel rod (which happens nicely to be long enough to hold the rolled up electrical cord during transport time) that will stop the handle from making the trip all the way back to ground. I’ve found that 10 degrees puts enough weight on the pin to hold the wheels in active mode when going over rough terrain..i.e. unweighting that pin.
      The axel is just outside of the fenced portion.
      The “trap door” is just a piece of plexiglass about 13″ x 60″. That length isn’t accurate, all to say a long rectangular piece that slides in and out opening and closing the entry located in the center of the floor of the roosting area. You can see the “daggerboard protruding out the back in one of the pictures. It makes for easy lockdown without feces on you feet as a regular part of the night. There is no further lock than that. If you have racoons that figure out how to pull this “dagger board” out, and then go around and find their way up through the center section, you raise them smart in your neck of the woods….which they are and I had some concern once upon a time, but no longer.
      Send me a picture!

      • It’s done!!! And our girls are doing well, but seem reluctant to go in to their new abode. Any suggestions? Oh, and I would love to send you a picture, but I’m not sure how…

        Thank you for all the advice!

        • Hi Kaori,
          Congratulations. I would love to see the fruit of your labor. Send me a photo, if you would be so kind, at [email protected]. I’ll post it here. Also send along notes of what you learned in the process that might be helpful for others.
          It does take a bit for the hens to warm up to their new digs. We just put their food up inside for the first few days and they began to feel safe there relatively quickly. It may take a bit of prodding to help them go inside, just be sure to make it a pleasant experience so they don’t correlate going inside with a frustrated human who would rather be doing a hundred things rather than chicken herding. We LOVE chicken herding. There’s nothing we’d rather be doing..

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  13. Hi Ken, Very nice looking tractor! I’m looking locally for wheels and have two questions: 1) Do you know the weight of your tractor? 2) Do you know the weight capacity of your wheels? I’m finding wire spoke wheels w/ 100# limits. Oh, also, I’m wondering how you lock your wheels in place when moving? Is there a stop or latch to hold your lever bar? And, finally, how many chickens is your coop sized for? We have 6 full-size birds to accomodate. Many thanks, Greg


  15. I love this Chicken Tractor. I have been considering raising some chickens. I believe a tractor is the way to go for me. But I’m not that handy to cut wood, etc to build. I would love something lie this if it was prefab and I had to follow directions to assemble.
    [email protected]

  16. I adore your coop and finally set out to make one like it this summer. My Father and I are right at the end. It is time to set the coop on the mobile frame/run. I’m worried that the whole thing is going to tip over. Is that a problem with yours?

    • Hi Marina..
      The whole idea of this design is to start with the wheels and axle so that the center of gravity of the house is centered over the axle. The weight of the cage is the only weight you are lifting (plus any chickens that haven’t centered themselves!) If you have followed this concept it shouldn’t tip over. If it’s out of balance you’ll just have to train your chickens to find their centers :) Ken

      • Thank you so much for writing back. The house is centered over the axle when everything is level to the ground. When the wheels are lowered, it is about 4-5 inches off from center. Also, the wheels (in the lowered position) seem a bit wobbly. Any ideas on how to strengthen?

        • My wheels are mounted to a solid 3/4″ dia. steel axle which is centered under the CG of the house. If the offset from the axle center to the wheel center is about 4-5″, when the house is raised (wheels lowered)I have a stop that holds the wheels in a position slightly past “top dead center” so the CG and wheel centers will only be off about an inch. Even at 4-5″ offset, I doubt that you’ll have much problem: eg. 300lb house, 60″ long = 5 lbs/inch x 4″ =20lbs off center. That is covered by the weight of the run.
          If I had to do it again I would strengthen the axle by adding some 45 degree plates between the bottom of the axle and the offset bar. The wheels splay some as it is, but I’m not motivated enough to fix it!

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