My dad Joe is very handy and frugal. This is his creation of a custom “Chicken Tractor” for the 50 or so broilers that he bought as day old chicks to raise! He used parts from around the farm and spent only $25 on the whole project!
The main frame is a carport frame made of metal. He cut and peeled logs long enough to fit the sides and ends, then drilled holes to stick the pipe legs of the carport in. He secured them with wood along the corners.
The three sides are covered with chicken wire. Ideally, any “open” space should be covered with chicken wire to discourage predators. The fourth side is an extra dog pen panel with a gate, to allow for easy access.
My friend Kelly raised broilers in a pen she made and she wanted to do something about making it easier to move them. She would slide the pen along (hers was smaller, so she just picked it up to slide) and the chickens would get their toes caught under the edge of the pen and get stuck so she had to stop often and scoot them along. My dad said he put the feeder toward the front end and then would feed them right before moving them. As he moved the pen along with his tractor, the chickens would chase after the feeder, therefore staying toward the front of the pen and avoiding any pinched toes!
This pen is quite large, and while it is a nice size for the number of chickens he is raising, it also requires a large amount of fairly flat land. His pen is in a field a couple acres in size and he has lots of room to move the pen each day, so keep that in mind.
Here are some notes Joe wrote about some changes he would make if he did it over again:
- The changes that I suggest include extending the tarp down an additional two feet or using six foot wire. Also, a roll up side tarp for windy rainy days.
- The tall ceiling leaves the chicks vulnerable to storms, but provides for good ventilation on hot days. After Cheryl and Chris’s wedding I understand how much heat radiates through the tarp. White tarps would be the best choice of color.
- I think 4x4s will work for the runners if 20 foot poles are not available. This unit pulls easy with a vehicle or small tractor and does not gouge the ground. I sometimes just use a bar to pry up on each end to move it sideways.
- Predators are always a threat. I have not lost any chicks with this design yet.