Chicken Tractor Plans for Broilers

Build a movable chicken coop with our chicken tractor plans made for folks looking to raise broiler chickens.

| January/February 2016

Pastured chickens enjoy fresh, natural nourishment, and the exercise involved in getting it, all while protected from predators and the elements. Afterwards, their high-nitrogen manure is left where needed as their portable coop, or “tractor,” is rolled to greener pastures.

At the heart of successful pasture-based poultry management is a secure, sturdy chicken tractor that stands up to the beating it will take from not only coyotes and coons, but high winds and other weather factors. Not to mention it’s awfully nice if your enclosure can be quickly and easily moved by one person.

If you haven’t pastured broilers before, you’ll be surprised how much grazing they do, given the chance. Twenty 2-week-old chicks will gobble 80 square feet of clover in two days. At 6 weeks, they should be moved twice a day – or maybe even more often – to maximize their intake of fresh greens and prevent waste from piling up.

You’ll have to get feed and water to them, and they go through lots of both toward the end. It’s ideal to get the chicks on grass as early as possible to reinforce their scratching and foraging instincts. I’ve had them in the tractor as early as 5 days old in mild weather. I hang a light in the tractor with a thick straw bed beneath them for their first week or so outside. Also, I use straw bales alongside the tractor to block drafts.

The tractor featured here is the product of several developmental generations, and it makes the original look pretty cumbersome. Earlier models were built around what I had or could easily get. Nowadays, I’ve standardized some features that suit me. That said, there’s always room for modification and improvement. Think of the following instructions as an adjustable recipe rather than a blueprint. Season to taste.

Bike to birdcage

Bicycles are the critical element to this project, and the corners – the raising and lowering mechanism – are what set this chicken tractor apart from others. We’ll mainly focus on the corners and wheel assembly first, and you can fabricate the rest of the movable coop how you like, though I’ll offer my suggestions.

mother earth news fair 2018 schedule


Next: April 28-29, 2018
Asheville, NC

Sit in on dozens of practical workshops from the leading authorities on modern homesteading, animal husbandry, gardening, real food and more!