We built a small chicken tractor earlier this spring in preparation for our baby chicks that arrived in June. They quickly outgrew the space. We’ve learned a few things the past two months that helped us decide on the design of our 64 square foot chicken tractor.
Deciding on a Size
For our flock of 45 chickens, we needed at least 2-3 square feet per chicken. If you calculate two square feet per chicken then we needed at least 90 square feet. Our original chicken tractor is roughly 32 square feet so we needed to add at least another 58 square feet for our whole flock. To make it simple and easy we decided to build an 8×8 square structure which would add another 64 square feet for our flock. This size would be easy to construct, easy to move by hand, and allow our flock to forage more and lower our feed costs.
- 5 – 8ft 2×4’s
- 12 – 2.5ft 1×4’s
- 5 – 8ft 1×4’s
- 4 – 4ft 1×1’s
- 56ft of 3ft 1/2inch hardware cloth (you can use chicken wire, but the hardware cloth is tougher for preditors to get through)
- Screws (1&1/4in and 3&1/2 inch)
- 4 door hinges
- 2 hinge locks
- Zip ties
- Staples and staple gun
How to Build an 8×8 Chicken Tractor
Build your chicken tractor on level ground. We build ours on a flatbed trailer. Start by screwing 4 base 8ft 2×4’s into a square. Secure each end with two screws.
Cut your 1×4 into 12 2.5ft pieces. Screw two boards in each corner as pictured and one in the middle of the board (roughly 4ft in from the edge). Secure the board with 3 screws in a triangle pattern onto the base 2×4. We placed them slightly above the bottom of the base board to prevent them from catching on the ground when we are moving it out in the field.
Attach 2 8ft 1×4’s to the top of the vertical boards on opposite ends of the structure. Measure the remaining two sides. They will be roughly 3 inches shorter than the 8ft sides. Cut accordingly and then attach to the structure. Measure when mounting to make sure your middle vertical board is in the middle of the top and base board.
Screw your last 2×4 to the top across the structure. Measure before cutting. It will be roughly 1.5 inches less than 8ft. Attach the board inside the structure flush to the top. This board adds stability to the structure. We added a J hook to this beam to hang our feeder from. You will also mount your doors off of this board. Use your longer screws and secure it on both ends.
Next, wrap the sides of the chicken tractor in hardware cloth. Start by overlapping a corner by a few inches and then secure it as you unroll it using staples. We used a three-foot-tall hardware cloth and simply folded over the excess on the top. When you are mounting it, make sure it is not flush with the bottom of the base boards so that it will not catch on the ground when you move it.
Cut 3 stripes of hardware cloth to length (exterior board to middle dividing board). Staple the hardware cloth to the exterior board, pull it tight and staple it to the middle dividing board. Screw 2 4ft 1×4’s on the top sides. Screw two 4ft 1×4 together with the hardware cloth in between to secure where your hardware cloth overlaps. This adds more security and reinforces the structure if something heavy were to be on top of it (preditor, snow in the winter, etc.).
We created two doors. One is approximately two-thirds the length and the other is one-third the length of the chicken tractor. The door will need to be slightly larger than the opening. The ends of the 1×4 were cut at a 45-degree angle. After laying out the boards together to make the door, put your precut wire on the top and then place a 2×4 block on top of the four corners and screwed from the bottom of the 1×4 into the 2×4. In order to put on the hinges, we placed a scrap piece of 1×4 behind the door and screwed the hinge into the top of the door and top of the 1×4 on the dividing board. For the larger door, we placed a 1×1 strip similar to the back in the picture above to tie the two-wire pieces together. We then added the hinge locks to the top of the doors and the side of the chicken tractor.
Attach the tarp using zip ties over the back half of the chicken tractor. You want it to cover the top and at least two sides to create a good shelter from the sun and rain.
Drill two holes through the base board on the front of your chicken tractor that you can push your rope through. Burn the ends of the rope to prevent it from fraying. Secure the rope by tying a few knots after feeding it through the holes.
How to Build a Chicken Tractor Video
We’ve been using our chicken tractor for a few weeks now and we love it! It is light enough to move by hand. Even at 27 weeks pregnant, I am able to pull it forward without a problem. The chickens are loving their new space and foraging well!