Q. Why did the chicken cross the road?
A. To prove to the armadillo that it was possible.
Although the title may conjure up images of Foghorn Leghorn astride a John Deere tractor, in reality a chicken tractor is a name used to describe a movable hutch for poultry. I understand that in Great Britain this is known as a chicken ark
There are a variety of different designs for these portable coops, ranging from the humble backyard eyesore to the elaborate condo any hen would be happy to have as her home. If you aren't the home DIY project type, there are a number of kits available to get you started.
So why would one want a chicken tractor? If you are a gardener the benefits can be considerable. Even if you don't garden, but have a lawn, you may still want to consider one. Chickens are "da bomb" at getting rid of insects and weed seeds in a yard or garden, not to mention the fertilizer and cultivation they provide. The poultry also provide an excellent way of recycling table scraps and unwanted leftovers. Being able to move them easily spreads the benefit around while allowing the gardener access at any time. All this and eggs too!
Some challenges to be aware of:
- Poultry must have fresh, clean water at all times and, if you keep poultry year round, you will either have to protect it from freezing somehow or quickly replace it as often as it does freeze. Heated water containers are available but require power.
- In my wild location, critters are a problem serious enough that I have delayed getting poultry until a suitable fence can be built. Most chicken tractors, being lightweight by necessity, will not provide enough protection from dogs, raccoons, possums, foxes, etc. Alternatively, you could remove the birds at night to a more secure, permanent coop.
- You will want to keep supplemental feed on hand, chickens are a hungry lot!
- If you are in an urban setting you will need to check to make sure even this small foray into keeping livestock is permitted by local ordinances.
If you want to give the chicken tractor a try and are project oriented you can probably come up with a suitable design by checking the links below. If you are DIY challenged there is a link for ready to assemble kits.
Our local radio station has a call in swap shop and while I was eating lunch the other day it was on. A man called in wanting to trade in his rooster. He said he wanted one that crowed about 8:30 AM instead of at 6:00 AM like his. I wish him luck.
Links updated December 1, 2019
Kit to order online
Video walk through - build A-frame chicken tractor