What is a chicken tractor?
A chicken tractor is a moveable chicken coop.
Chicken tractors come in many sizes and are made to be moved around. Many have wheels on one side to make them easier to move.
Chicken tractors are particularly good for keeping chickens in small backyards and rental houses. They can also be used in the veggie garden, moving chickens around to clean up and fertilise different beds. Many pastured egg farmers now use giant chicken tractors, holding hundreds of hens, combined with electrified netting fences, to move chickens around a paddock.
What are the benefits of a chicken tractor?
So why would you want a chicken tractor? There are lots of benefits to having a moveable chicken coop:
- Chicken tractors take up less space than a standard coop
- Chickens have regular access to fresh greens and bugs, meaning healthier birds and better eggs
- No more bare patches in the yard!
- Chickens can be moved around to eat weeds or fertilise the soil, even in gardens
- Moving the coop can prevent birds from getting parasites like mites, lice and worms
- You can position the coop to suit the season, providing shade in summer and avoiding muddy spots in wet weather
- Chicken tractors are perfect for rental houses and places where you don't want to build a permanent coop
If you have a standard chicken coop, a chicken tractor can still be a useful addition. You can use a chicken tractor to give your chickens a change of scenery, to clean up garden beds, as a brood box, to raise chicks, as a hospital coop, for quarantine or when introducing new chickens to the flock.
Are there any negatives to a chicken tractor?
If you choose the right-sized chicken tractor for your flock, ensure it is well-made and select a chicken tractor that you are able to move easily, there aren't many negatives to a chicken tractor.
Size is important
There are many chicken tractors for suburban backyards available online. Many of these are very small, often only 2 square metres. It's important to note that these small chicken tractors are only suitable for 2-3 birds and will have to be moved everyday unless your birds are also free-ranging.
But there are also giant chicken tractors available for moving around farms. So as long as you choose a suitable chicken tractor for your flock and situation, size is not an issue.
If you are buying a chicken tractor, make sure it is well-made. We have heard from hundreds of customers who bought cheap, wooden chicken tractors online only to find that they broke after a few moves.
Well-made chicken tractors will prevent predators from harming your chickens.
Also, moving the chicken tractor causes strain to the structure. It is really important that the frame is solid, or it will break after a few moves. Metal or hardwood are the best choices. Designs with wheels also tend to last longer because the wheels take a lot of the strain out of moving.
Make sure you can move it
Many of the wooden chicken tractors sold online are marketed as "light" and "easy to move for one person". But because the structure itself is flimsy, even if the coop has wheels it requires 2 people to move it in order to prevent damage.
Although metal and hardwood chicken tractors are a much better choice, they are much heavier. So ensure you are going to be able to move the tractor and choose an option with wheels!
More chicken coop articles:
- How big should your chicken coop be?
- The best chicken coop (or tractor) materials
- What is a chicken run and do you need one?
- Chicken roosts - why broomsticks don't work
Happy chicken keeping!
Rachael at Dine a Chook