A lot of people do not seem to know this but chicken tractors are also chicken houses. The only real difference between the two is that chicken tractors can be moved from place to place and chicken houses are fixed in one place. You can have both if you have the means and the space in your yard, but either will do to house your chicken flock, provided they all fit with plenty of room to move. If you are not too familiar with raising chickens and keeping hens, it wouldn’t be any wonder if you didn’t immediately realise this difference.
But now knowing that there is a difference between chicken tractors and chicken coops, it will be easier for you to plan how you’re going to keep your chickens housed. Especially if you are planning to raise your very own chickens soon, but don’t actually have them yet, you have the chance to look around and see if you can pick up something pre-loved (second hand!) or even modify something to suit your yard space and the number and types of chickens that you’re planning to keep. Purpose built chicken houses or a chicken tractor will probably suit best, but other types of small to medium animal enclosures could work equally well. It’s all an individual choice, really.
Chicken tractor plans
If you have been searching for different types of chicken tractor plans online, you will have seen a great variety of chicken tractor designs. While most may look similar to each other, there will also be some that have been made with a great deal of creativity. Some of those designs are so pretty that people cannot help but buy them or have them made. Sometimes, people attempt to make chicken tractors themselves too. This may or may not be successful depending on how gifted the individual is in carpentry and handiwork…but, hey, if it keeps the chickens in and safe and dry and warm, and the predators out, does it really matter?
What is a Chicken Tractor For?
All round protection
Depending on how big the tractor is, the chickens are free to roam around the enclosed space with plenty of room to move. This really is beneficial especially if there are some things around your yard area that you would like to protect from your chickens. For instance, if you have some plants that will be destroyed if pecked by chickens, if you have garden mulch in your garden beds (the chickens will rearrange that for you…) or if you have neighbors who keep a vegetable patch and don’t take kindly to your chickens helping themselves.
Largely, though, the chicken tractor is to protect the chickens from the environment as well – they can get through holes in fences and potentially fall foul of dogs, and it’s not unusual for a neighborhood dog to run loose and have a bit of sport with an unsuspecting chicken. Chickens and traffic don’t mix and if you live in a fairly rural area, foxes love a bit of chicken for dinner. If any of these situations sound like you, you can always house your flock in a decent sized chicken tractor so that they can roam happily, but not to the point when they can reach treasured plants or be in danger.
A sustainable approach for a Chicken Tractor
One benefit of the chicken tractor as compared to the chicken coop is that it is movable and that you do not need to build a floor for underneath your chickens. This also means that you do not have to exert more effort in maintaining the floors of chicken houses – like cleaning and mending or maintaining. The ground will be the floor and all their droppings will serve as fertilizer. This does not mean though that you can let their tractor stay rooted in just one place. While the area may provide enough entertainment for your chickens for a short while, there will come a time when you would need to move them to another area with fresh ground to peck and to let the original spot recover. The chicken scratchings will also uproot and kill off any grass they live on in a fairly short time, so moving your mobile chicken tractor regularly is the best approach, and of course, it will be much easier to move the chicken tractor on wheels than traditional chicken hen houses which are fixed to one place.
Potential health benefits
According to research, chickens that are living in tractors may be able to thrive better than those who are in cages because they have enough access to the outside world and they are not being deprived of their daily needs. While those in cages may also have food and water, there are times when they will not be able to receive enough sunlight. There are also instances when they cannot move properly, if their cage isn’t large enough, which means that they will not be getting enough exercise. A chicken tractor is a great improvement on this.
More Benefits of a Chicken Tractor
Other than the obvious benefits already described above, it has been said that chicken tractors will potentially allow hens to make their own nests or areas where they will choose to lay their eggs. But there are certainly advantages to have “manmade” nesting boxes available where hens can lay their eggs. This is certainly something to be considered if you want to make your own chicken tractor. This means that the layout can be designed so that you will be able to gather eggs more easily instead of trying to find the eggs in the various different places where your chickens might have hidden them. (Two guesses where the idea of the Egg Hunt fiasco we go through at Easter Time came from!)
Is it okay if your chickens are pets?
This is not at all unusual to find; there are people who are not just keeping chickens for their eggs, fertilizer or other reasons we won’t mention in their earshot. Plenty of people like to keep backyard chickens because they are simply just great pets – they are not that fussy, not hard to look after and aren’t too messy if your yard isn’t too perfectly manicured.
Once a chicken has come to the end of its egg-laying career, it seems only fair to let it live its life out in peace and health and happiness in it’s own home sweet home! Although some people that have never known the joys being a chicken owner will find it a bit weird, a sweet creature that demands little, appreciates all, takes up little space and gives what it can is a great thing to have around (wouldn’t you agree?).
Your backyard chickens will adapt happily to a chicken tractor or chicken houses equally well. It’s really only a question of what will best suit your needs to be able to live with them in your yard with minimum fuss and maximum practicality.