Lightweight Chicken Tractor

To shelter my chickens I needed a cage that was easy to build, light enough to be moved around the lawn, and that provided a cosy roost and nest box.


After a brief survey of possible designs I settled on a 4' x 4' x 10' frame of ½" EMT secured by elbows and bolted corner braces. I used copious black zip ties to attach panels of 2" x 4" weldmesh fencing. The roost consisted of a length of 2" x 3" sheltered inside a recycled plastic barrel. The ladder proved unnecessary: the hens ignored it and happily jumped up to the roost. A tarpaulin completed the defences against the elements and provided a measure of camouflage. The total budget was well under $100.


After some months of use some drawbacks have become apparent. The tractor is light enough that it can be moved by a single person — an easy way is to prop a kid's scooter under each end. But it can blow away in a strong wind and requires tethering (I used tent pegs). A more serious problem was its defences against predators. A 6" apron of weldmesh around the inner circumference proved sufficient to prevent foxes from digging underneath. Sadly I had not reckoned on raccoons being able to reach inside the cage and attack the hens directly. Reinforcing the mesh walls with ½" hardware cloth might have prevented the loss of two hens.

More recently, the cage was demolished by snow! The structure just could not withstand the weight, and I will need to replace the frame. In future I will take off the tarpaulin whenever snow is forecast.


Anonymous said...

Do you anchor it in any way? I think it would blow over pretty easily around here (Kansas).
I put mine on a 4X4 frame, heavy enough it doesn't move easily, but won't blow around either.
I use my riding lawn mower to move it around the yard.

Tom said...

Tent pegs. I remembered after the first puff of wind blew the cage upside down.

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