Chicken Tractors are simple, traditionally A-Frame (triangular) shaped structures used to house domestic fowl.
As structures, chicken tractors are as varied as snowflakes. There’s no fixed plan and those who keep chickens often dream up their own versions. So long as the structure is open at the bottom so that birds have direct access to the ground on which the chicken tractor sits.
There are industrial grade Chicken Tractors for pasture poultry, these are simply much bigger than the home built versions and positioned in a pasture field rather than a normal backyard, but the basic principal is still the same.
The name comes from the fact that they fulfil a number of functions traditionally performed by a farm tractor. As the tractor ploughs the earth it digs and weeds the ground, both of which prepare for new growth. This is what the chickens do, with their digging, eating and manure they are performing several helpful gardening and ground preparation chores.
Made from corrugated iron, strong wire, wood, old pallets, the list is extensive. Wheels can be added to make the coop easier to move. There are single storey ones and those with a ramp leading up to a second level where the roosts and nest boxes would be placed. Looking around you can find hundreds of photographs of bespoke chicken tractors online.
Chicken tractors may look simple but they offer many advantages to those with flocks. For example:
- They allow ground to be maintained in rotation, by moving the tractors regularly
- They permit the fertilisation of large areas evenly over time
- They provide shelter for the birds, from weather and from predators
- No floor, so no floor to clean!
- Helps facilitate natural behaviour -birds forage over a large area
- Birds enjoy fresh air, sunlight, foraging and exercise
- Hens use nest boxes for laying instead of foliage
- Can cater for more birds than free range
- You’ll have to keep moving the tractors regularly, to avoid denuding the ground in any specific spot. Some are fitted with wheels, which helps.
- That’s it.
If you want to get a chicken tractor you will be spoiled for choice. You can buy one from a number of suppliers – your local carpenter could probably help out. If you fancy your carpentry skills you’ll save money by making a DIY version. Even these home made versions vary in quality with some requiring advanced skills. If you have a bit of diy experience you probably could design your own movable tractor coop but there are also plans, easily available on line, for those of us who need a bit more inspiration and guidence.