A chicken tractor is an incredible way to allow your chickens a lifestyle similar to free-range, but still keep them safe and protected. As an additional benefit, these clever contraptions let your chickens keep your entire yard fertilized, foraged and bug-free without requiring you to build fences around all plants and cultivated garden spaces in your landscaping. Imagine a chicken coop and enclosed yard. Now picture the entirety of the structure on wheels. Now, envision your flock of chickens happily scratching through a fresh yard every time you move your chicken coop/enclosed yard combo a few feet to a new spot. If that sounds like the chicken life for you, follow these seven steps.
1. Examine Your Budget
This shouldn’t need reiterating, but it’s extremely important to ensure you have the funding available when embarking on your chicken budget. Fortunately, starting a flock of chickens doesn’t have to cost a lot of money, and most people can afford to do so with little or no money. Whether you have a load of cash to invest, or you’re surfing the free listings online, you must know how much you can comfortably spend. It’s good to have a budget for your entire chicken enterprise, and then a collection of sub-budgets for things like veterinarian bills, the chicken’s housing and, of course, the birds themselves. There’s nothing worse than having a wonderfully put together chicken home with nobody to live in it.
2. Study Your Yard
Really get to know the outdoor environment in which your chickens will live. If you’ve already cultivated your land, then you probably have a good idea. If you live in an urban environment, you might not have paid much attention to the land’s water flow, retention spots and established vegetation. These are all factors that influence how you design your chicken tractor setup. Take note of your fence and what lies beyond it. Chickens can get spooked and go grumpy if exposed to startling environments, like a busy street or noisy neighbors. Grumpy hens aren’t normally great producers of eggs.
3. Make a Plan
Don’t set yourself up for failure. Make a plan to ensure you pick out the best mobile chicken tractor for your circumstances. Include your budget, your research and your ideal expectations. Consider the size of your desired flock, since this should directly influence the size of the coop and yard. Make sure you understand what type of materials you’ll need for your chicken tractor designs to guarantee the best functionality and accessibility. Plan everything, even the route you intend for your chicken tractor to take throughout your yard. One of the most important things to consider is the safety of your birds, not only from the elements, but also from predators. When it’s in a position that it will stay in for the next day or days, secure the tractor to the ground, through either ties or weights, to ensure that predators won’t find it easy to sneak in, dig in or force their way underneath the frame.
4. Build, Buy or Commission Your Chicken Tractor
Having a solid plan makes it easy to decide whether to make your own chicken tractor yourself, buy one from a manufacturer, or commission one as a custom project. The important thing is to prepare your yard ahead of time. Clear and level space, add ground covering and even place plants or other types of landscaping along your intended yard path.
“A chicken tractor is an incredible way to allow your chickens a lifestyle similar to free-range, but still keep them safe and protected.”
5. Test Everything
Once your chicken tractor is in place, it’s easy to rush ahead and bring home your birds. Don’t do that. Allow a day or so to pass to see how the chicken tractor settles. Watch for cracks in wood or separations in the seams that would indicate poor craftsmanship and future problems. Also, take note of how the rig sits on the ground cover you’ve chosen. See how much force it takes to move everything around, and make adjustments as you see fit. Once you’re fully satisfied, move on to the next step.
6. Stock and Personalize
Take pride in preparing a lovely home for your future chickens. Make sure to implement everything you’ve learned when placing nest boxes and choosing a nesting medium. Stock your feed in its permanent location, and don’t forget to create spaces for cleaning supplies and coop tools. Pay attention to where you place food and water, as well as any points in the structure where a chicken might escape. Don’t forget to add your own personal style to the chicken tractor. Non-toxic paint, wooden or metal decorations and even plants add wonderful character to this new part of your life.
7. Add Chickens and Enjoy
Once you have everything set up and ready to go, let it stand still for an entire day. This will let your brain rest and give you a better chance of catching problems before they turn into major issues. When you bring your birds home, you’ll have the time to truly enjoy caring for them. A chicken tractor is the best type of home you can give your backyard flock.