Are you curious about the journey behind our DIY chicken tractors? In this post I am going to share with you why we decided to design and build our own unique chicken tractor for our backyard hens. Lastly, I'll share with you how you can get your hands on our chicken tractor build plans so you can build one for your backyard or homestead!
My very first flock of backyard chickens clocked in at seven beautiful hens. After researching and reading as much as I could on how best to raise laying hens, I decided to let them free-range because pastured chickens are the happiest and healthiest.
Why? Being able to forage for bugs and grubs allows them a diverse diet, lots of sunshine, and never ending entertainment. Keeping hens on grass also provides us the healthiest eggs possible thanks to their higher beta-carotene, choline, and omega-3 levels. It was win-win in my book.
So after a few weeks of free-ranging my very first flock, imagine my dismay when I came out to check on my girls and found feathers and blood everywhere. My heart sank as I did a headcount and found two of my girls missing. A hawk had been through my flock and thus began the conundrum that most backyard chicken owners face. Do you let your hens free-range and take the risk of a predator attack or do you keep them cooped up and safe and limit their diet and their happiness?
I choose to risk it, but it came at a cost that didn’t just concern my hens’ safety. It came at the cost of my peace of mind. Since I worked from home, I was able to keep an eye on them, but my anxiety for their safety kept disrupting my day. I checked on my hens every 30 minutes, doing head counts, or calling them over for treats. While the constant monitoring definitely improved the relationship I had with my hens, it was starting to wear on me. I’m sure as a fellow chicken momma or papa - you’ve felt this same anxiety and responsibility for your backyard flock.
I decided I needed to find a solution that would keep my hens safe from predators, but would also offer them the benefits of free-ranging on grass. What I needed was a mobile chicken tractor.
When I started researching chicken tractors I quickly realized three crucial things:
My wonderful husband watched patiently as I continued to get more and more frustrated, all the while letting my flock free-range. Then, I lost two more hens and a rooster to a pernicious hawk. I was at the end of my rope. I admitted to him in tears that I might as well throw in the towel completely. I wasn’t cut out for owning hens because my heart couldn’t take losing them nor could it take keeping them cooped up like prisoners for their own safety.
He then sat me down and asked, “What would you build if you could do it completely from scratch?”
I thought for a moment and told him to get me a pencil and paper. Then, I started to draw out what I saw in my head. Using his decade of experience as an engineer, he helped me design the basic idea I had. We talked through all the basic predator scenarios we had encountered and how best to mitigate them with our design. We also talked through my daily workflow with feeding, watering, and gathering eggs and made further design tweaks that would make my life as a chicken momma a heck of a lot easier.
Using this pencil and paper design, my husband went to work on CAD and drafted the designs within a 3-D model. A trip to Menards and one Amazon order later - we set to working building our very first Mobile Chicken Tractor. The build took us about 20 hours in total and we learned a lot along the way, making further tweaks to the design so that the next build would be even easier.
Welcome to the Mini + Medium + Mega Mobile Chicken Tractors!
The Mini Chicken Tractor
The Medium Chicken Tractor
The Mega Chicken Tractor
In creating our very own chicken tractor design, we solved multiple issues for ourselves...
After building three of our very own chicken tractors, we kept getting asked for the plans. We realized other chicken owners would benefit from our unique and durable design, so that's why we created the Chicken Tractor Build Plans.
To date, over 300 chicken tractors have been built using our build plans!
Thanks for stopping by Green Willow Homestead! From chicken rearing to composting, we've got our hands full and we love sharing what we've learned along the way. Follow along as we strive to live sustainably and turn these five acres from just property to a fully functioning regenerative farm.
Grab the Ebook
1. Joe Salatin
2. Rachel Carson
3. Wendell Berry
4. Temple Grandin
5. Diana Rodgers
6. Bea Johnson
7. Allan Savory
Favorite Books of 2019
1. Restoration Agriculture
3. A Sand County Almanac
4. The Small Scale Poultry Flock
5. Deep Work