I shared about our new venture a few weeks ago...baby chicks. My hubby has been diligently working on building a chicken tractor for them to live in during the spring & fall. A more permanent coop will be built later in the summer/fall for them to winter in. However, for now, they will be living in the tractor.
Many have asked us, "So what is a chicken tractor anyway?" The impish side of me wants to tell them it's similar to a John Deere, but I don't.
Basically a chicken tractor allows the chickens to "free range" minus the "free" part of it. We live way out in the middle of nowhere so predators abound. In fact, one lives in my house & one lives with my in-laws. They are commonly known as "dogs." As much as I would love to let our little chicks just hunt & peck & scratch all over the place, it's not feasible to do. That's where a chicken tractor comes in very handy.
I spent a lot of time searching the net for photos of them & then sent links to my hubby. One huge benefit to being married to an engineer? He looked them over & designed his own & improved on what he saw. We have the deluxe version as I like to say.
So here is what we ended up with...
The back of the tractor. There is an access door here so we can get inside to fill food & what not.
Access door in the back open. You can see the food tray at the back as well as the little ramp that goes up to the nesting area. There are a couple branches bolted in here for roosts as well.
This is a side view. The section open above is where we hope the hens will nest. There are little partitions & we'll fill them with nice soft hay. The trick will be making sure all the hens are outside the "coop" area & in the run area (and locked out) so I can safely open this without them flying away.
This is the little door in to the coop area. See the sliding bar on the right. We can lock it open & then shut it at night or when I need to move the tractor or get eggs. Hubby only needs to figure out a way to lock it down so that no predators can force their way in.
It's hard to see here but there are two boards that extend out past the run. I can lift up the run & move the tractor to anywhere I'd like on the lawn. There is no bottom on the run so the hens can eat whatever they find in the grass & fertilize it at the same time. Hubby still needs to put the finishing touches on this part (wire extending down past the coop area & a skirting of wire to keep the hens in & predators out.
There is another access door - it's closed here. This will allow us to get in to the run area if we need to.
Did you notice all the little ramps? This is one reason I call it the "deluxe" version. There is one inside the coop area so that they can get to the 2nd floor. Just the fact that there is a second floor puts this in the "deluxe" area I think. Then there is another ramp to get in to the coop area. Plus there is another long one to get up to the roost in the run area. There is a long branch that runs the length of the run where they can either fly up to or walk up to thanks to the ramp. I'm sure they will like this feature as well. They love the branch we have in the brooder to roost on. They were flying up to the top of the food container until we put that in.
Salvaged old bike wheels from the barn makes this large tractor relatively easy for me to move. I'll be having B help me (pushing from the back) but we'll do well with it.
I'll be sure to share photos once the hens are able to go outside. They are now about three weeks old. They are entering their "ugly duckling" stage otherwise known as pullets of "chicken teenagers" & getting in their feathers. It will be at least another two weeks if not three or four before they are fully feathered out & can go outside full time. Of course, it's been really rainy here lately so hopefully we'll have some nice weather for their first days outside. Otherwise they'll be in a bit longer.
We really have been enjoying this new venture. Now, how to convince hubby that rabbits should be next.....