Building a chicken tractor for raising meat birds

A 'chicken tractor' is basically a low, wire-enclosed, open-bottomed box for raising chickens. This structure keeps the birds in and predators out. The tractors are usually moved to fresh ground daily.

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These portable cages can be constructed to just about any size suitable to your purposes. make sure to allow adequate space for the birds; well-known farmer Joel Salatin uses a 'fleet' of tractors sized about 12' x 20' to raise thousands of birds a year. I believe he puts about 100 birds in each tractor, giving a space of about 2 1/2 square feet per bird.

I would consider this the minimum space per bird you should consider, if the birds are confined. A small tractor might be 4' x 4', housing half a dozen birds.

We built a few 4' x 8' chicken tractors and put them in our garden one year. We moved the tractors around and the birds ate weeds and bugs, and fertilized our garden.

The tractors are usually constructed with a solid - e.g. steel - roof, and open sides enclosed in chicken wire. Part of the top needs to open to provide feed and water and access to the birds.

We used 2" x 2" framing for our tractors; larger models may require heavier framing. Construction of a tractor is a compromise between making a structure solid enough to stay together, yet light enough to move.



The tractor pictured above is 4' x 8'; we would put up to a dozen birds in it and move it around our garden to help clean up weeds and bugs.



Note: we no longer use tractors like the above. We were not happy with the performance of chickens in them, and instead we designed and built a Movable Coop (see picture below.)



See also:

Day Range Poultry vs the Chicken Tractor


Chicken Coop Plans


The New Terra Farm Movable Coop Plan Book


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