I’ve been really busy lately, we moved out of our apartment, I have been teaching a lot, plus the day after our moved I left for a 2 week resident Chemistry for Haz-Mat Response course. (My brain still is mumbled up mush) While most of our stuff is still packed in boxes, I just had to get started on my urban homestead. Genny and I spent last Saturday making our first Chicken Tractor.
For those of you unfamiliar with the term, a chicken tractor is a cross between free-range chicken management and keeping them in a coop. What we did was build a 6×12 A-Frame and covered it on all sides with chicken wire. This allows the chickens protection from predators (even though I will need to beef up my screen – raccoons can tear through chicken wire I’m told) while allowing the chickens to peck the ground to supplement their feed.
Each week we will move the tractor to a new location in our yard so that no one spot gets mangled too badly.
I was going to take pictures of the construction process, but:
A- We got too enthused about building and forgot to start taking pictures
B- We did not use a plan; the entire thing was build off of my perusing of pictures on the internet and creating as we went.
C- Genny and I lack serious carpentry skills (she got to use a circular saw for the first time Saturday)… There is not a square angle on the entire tractor I did not feel like sharing all our mistakes…
I know that 8 pullets in the tractor is a lot, but as they grow, I plan on eating the worse 3 layers, so as to keep only 5 in the tractor at a time.
We built it with a single roll of 4ft chicken wire (next time we will only use chicken wire on the floor, with something more substantial on the walls. 12ft 1×4 boards, 8ft 1×1 boards, and a single piece of exterior grade sheathing.
Basically we cut most of the 1x4s into 4 ft sections and cut a 45 degree angle into them. We set them together with glue, brads, and those metal supports used to make trusses. then we nailed them into 12 ft sections of 1×4 to make a frame, then made a door and more supports with the 1×1 boards.
We cut two triangles into the plywood and then cut the remaining 4 ft piece into two 2ft sections to make a “weather-proof” coop. a door was cut to allow the chickens inside, and a door was made to allow me to get the eggs.
Once the pullets get old enough to lay, then I will make two nesting boxes out of old milk crates I have around the house.
Since we moved, we had to buy all the materials, (including tools) so we could not use any scrap. so this cost about $200. But it was an easy enough project for two novices to build in about 10 hours.
I have also heard of people experimenting with Rabbits in the same way, if this works well, I plan on trying that also… If so, then we will make sure to have better pictures and a step by step plan for you…