Permaculture Chicken Tractor Design

10 Easy Chicken Tractor Ideas for Raising Permaculture Chickens

November 19, 2020

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The A-Frame Chicken Tractor

A-Frame Chicken Coup

A-frames are a classic and efficient design that can be built using many available materials. Although, wood is frequently the cheapest.

The simple A-frame construction provides immense strength and is almost impossible to make too weak. It also requires fewer cuts than other designs, making it a breeze to build even for a novice wood worker.

This type of chicken tractor is a great way to get started with a small flock. However, for larger flocks the “A” shape will get too tall to be practical. So, you may end up moving on to another design in the future.

A-Frame Chicken Tractor Benefits

  • Low cost
  • Easy to build
  • Very strong

A-Frame Chicken Tractor Cons

  • Taller than necessary
  • Not suitable for larger sizes
  • Limits chicken’s access to grass on the edges

Wooden Box Chicken Tractor

Wooden Box Chicken Tractor Design

The wooden box chicken tractor is cheap, and simple to build. I consider it to be one step up from the A-frame design above.

Wooden boxes tend to be relatively light chicken tractors that are strong enough to protect from predators, and proved the flock full access to the ground on all edges.

Simple wooden boxes can be made out of shorter materials than the A-frame, allowing for easier use of scrap or reclaimed materials. However, the box construction requires a little extra wood working finesse to make sure it isn’t too wobbly.

Wooden Box Chicken Tractor Benefits

  • Moderately easy to build
  • Maximal use of ground space
  • Can be strong and protective if well built

Wooden Box Chicken Tractor Cons

  • Moderately heavy
  • Takes a bit longer to build

Coop and Yard Chicken Tractor

Coop And Yard Chicken Tractor

One more evolution of the basic wooden chicken tractor, the “coop and yard” — as I’m calling it — includes both a fully enclosed coop in addition to a fenced off yard area.

Such coops are great for situations where you want to keep the chickens inside the tractor all the time. It is also great for regions with very hot or very cold weather.

Having a coop gives your flock a place to sleep at night. As well as a place to stay out of the weather — and lay their eggs if they are egg hens.

Usually these types of tractors are built with wheels to help move them, although you might by with sleds and a few stout boys or a tractor. May not be suitable for areas with muddy or rocky ground.

Coop and Yard Chicken Tractor Benefits

  • Chickens can stay in their all the time
  • Perfect for very hot or cold climates
  • Gives laying chickens a place to roost

Coop and Yard Chicken Tractor Cons

  • Relatively difficult to build
  • Heavier than most other options
  • Not easy to move on muddy or rocky ground

Corrugated Steel Chicken Tractor

One idea that doesn’t require wood working skills the corrugated steel chicken tractor.

Simply buy or scrounge a few corrugated metal roofing sheets, and bend them along the corrugations to create a metal dome pieces. Screw the bottoms of several of these to wooden 2x4s as “runners,” and fashion a wire mesh cap for each of the ends.

Avoid scratching the metal too much, and these quick and fast to build tractors should last you a lifetime.

Corrugated Metal Chicken Tractor Benefits

  • Very durable
  • Extremely fast to build
  • Provides shade for the chickens

Corrugated Metal Chicken Tractor Cons

  • Heavier than similarly sized wooden options
  • Not as rigid as others
  • Limited in width, and thus practical size to small / medium flocks

Bent Wire Chicken Tractor

bent wire chicken tractor

Another quick DIY chicken tractor option is to fashion a cage style tractor out of wire fencing panels and wire.

Start by bending over sections of wire fencing in to arches. Then wire wrap each segment to a strong base of wood, metal, or PVC. Also, wire each arch segment to each other inn several places. Lastly, cut caps and wire in the ends.

You can also mix this with the corrugated steel chicken tractor, adding in a panel or two of metal roofing material to provide shade and shelter from the elements.

Bent Wire Chicken Tractor Benefits

  • Very durable
  • Extremely fast to build
  • Usually very light

Bent Wire Chicken Tractor Cons

  • Not as rigid as others
  • May be broken in to by more persistent predators

PVC Chicken Tractor

Pvc Chicken Tractor Plan

Building a tractor out of PVC pipe is another attractive plan for people with basics skills joining pipe.

These tractors tend to be very light, even too the point of being too light. And they can be almost as large as you like. PVC pipes, fittings, glue, and a pipe cutter are all you need to make this work. Plus the netting or fencing of your choice.

Another potential downside for some people is the potential for leaching of toxic chemicals from the PVC and glues in to the field where it is being worked. While there is probably not a huge potential for contamination, it may be something worth considering since the chickens are in close proximity to the plastic all the time.

PVC Chicken Tractor Benefits

  • Very light
  • Extremely fast to build
  • Can be very large

PVC Chicken Tractor Cons

  • Not very durable
  • May be too weak to lift off the ground
  • Plastics may not be organic

Slant Roof Chicken Tractor

A slight variation of the box style wooden chicken tractor is to build it with a partially or wholly covering roof segment.

Covered chicken tractors with roof are very efficiently built with a slightly slanting roof like you would with a shed. The slight angle tends to keep the roof from building up too much debris, like a flat roof can. But, for snowy areas you may want to increase the pitch to 30 – 40 degrees, to help shed the snow.

Slant Roof Chicken Tractor Benefits

  • Provide shelter and protection for the birds
  • Moderately easy to build
  • Maximal use of ground space
  • Can be strong and protective if well built

Slant Roof Chicken Tractor Cons

  • Moderately heavy
  • Takes a bit longer to build

High Production Chicken Tractor

While not a completely different design, high production chicken tractors tend to have a unique set of features that are suitable for large flocks of chickens. Production level chicken tractor features include —

  • Ability to house 100+ chickens
  • Built in watering and feeding
  • Entrance for the farmer to access the flock
  • May be large enough to stand in

The above video shows one interesting design, although every grower seems to make up something that fits their particular needs.

If you are interested in production chicken farming as a side business or to provide chicken for an entire community, you definitely want to check this book by the original master of “pastured poultry” who helped popularize the concept of the chicken tractor —

Production Chicken Tractor Benefits

  • Best option for large scale production of 100s of birds
  • Easier to manage
  • Cheaper than many small tractors
  • Can hold chickens their entire life

Production Chicken Tractor Cons

  • More difficult to move
  • Relatively complex to build

Dog Kennel Fence Chicken Tractor

Dog Kennel Chicken Tractor

One way of buying a practically complete chicken tractor that requires no special skills to put together is to buy a dog kennel, and a couple wheels from a farm supply store. Tarps as a roof covering is optional, but probably necessary if you live in an area with predatory hawks or owls.

Here is a description of how the dog kennel chicken tractor in the photo was built.

In all, the materials, which are readily available at farm supply and hardware stores, cost about $500. The dog run was easy to assemble. I chose to use the optional tarp roof for sun protection. I mounted the threaded rods on all four corners using U-bolts, and attached the wheels using nuts and washers. To offer the birds some additional protection from the elements, I used tarp straps to attach the tarps along the windward and sunny sides. To construct a roost and removable ladder, I used salvaged 1-by-1-inch deck railing slats. For nest boxes, I used 5-gallon buckets. I suspended the feeders and water from a 2x4 that runs across the top of the pen.

Mother Earth News One downside of this design is that it leaves a bit of open space between the fence and the ground. This may potentially leave space for nefarious creatures like weasels and raccoons who would like to make a meal out of you hens.

For more info on how to protect your chickens from predators, check out my previous article —

Dog Kennel Chicken Tractor Benefits

  • Super fast and easy
  • Quite strong
  • Easily accessible

Dog Kennel Chicken Tractor Cons

  • Moderately heavy
  • More expensive than others
  • Leaves room under the fence for predators

Ultra Fancy Chicken Tractor

Ultra Fance Hen House Chicken Tractor Inspiration One last inspiration for your chicken tractor designs is this ultra fancy chicken tractor design.

While many permaculturists and homesteaders opt for a more utilitarian variety of chicken tractor design, this doesn’t preclude making a piece of art out of this farming necessity.

One of the reasons why people make the move to a more self-sufficient and sustainable lifestyle is because they want to experience more out of life than fast paced city life allows. This means slowing down and making the most out of the little things.

If you have the inclination or skills to make your chicken tractor a one of a kind masterpiece, then do it!

And, if you do, kindly send me a picture so I can add you to this list as well.

Ultra Fancy Chicken Tractor Benefits

  • Makes life more pleasant
  • A unique way to express yourself and your skills

Ultra Fancy Chicken Tractor Cons

  • More expensive and time consuming

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