Chicken tractors can be great for your homestead
I started thinking about chicken tractors as a back up for our rotational chicken runs. When we designed our chicken coop & runs we had a permaculture set up in mind. Our goal was to design rotational chicken runs around our garden to reduce chicken feed costs. The one thing we hadn’t calculated however was things like drought (we didn’t water some of the ‘resting’ runs) so we ended up free-ranging our hens around our larger fenced area. The problem was there are areas where we don’t want our chickens going (like the garden!).
That’s when I started looking into chicken tractors as a potential solution.
What are Chicken Tractors?
The idea with mobile chicken coops and tractors is that you rotate your feeding grounds and areas where the chickens are kept. There are many benefits to this!
- Reduced feeding costs as you move them where the ground has fresh eating.
- No need for fencing! This is a major bonus when starting up your homestead or if you don’t know where to put your chicken coop yet.
Joel Salatin shows you how it’s done in this video
You can see the time lapse of a mobile chicken coop and chicken tractors working
The drawbacks to Chicken Tractors & Mobile Chicken Coops
Like many things on a homestead, there are pros and cons to different setups. For chicken tractors and mobile chicken coops there are few things to keep in mind:
- If you have rocky terrain these won’t work, they need flat ground otherwise you’ll have free-ranging chickens escaping underneath.
- You need to make sure water access isn’t too far away otherwise it will be a pain to refill
- If it’s extremely hot or you get snow then this design won’t work or might be seasonal.
- Predators might have an easier time accessing the chickens. Where we live we have bears, cougars and coyotes for example. We’ve had bears rip right through the plywood of our chicken coops so they could easily knock some of these designs over.
- The area needs to be free of poisonous or toxic plants to chickens.
- When you drag them to the next location you might get some escaped chickens as you can tell from the video above. If this happens you have to catch them and place them back in.
- The chicken tractors and mobile coops work great for broiler chickens meant for meat. If you have egg-laying hens then they need a place to nest and lay eggs adding to the design.
Fix has these informative images on what a chicken tractor design needs:
DIY Chicken Tractors & Mobile Chicken Coops
- DIY Chicken Tractor for $200 from Abundant Permaculture
- Backyard Chickens is the best place I’ve found for chicken tractor plans! Check it out here.
Will Chicken tractors work for you?
That depends on your set up, land and how you want to keep your chickens!