Benefits of a Chicken Tractor

Standard

Do you have a chicken coop?  Whether you have been keeping chickens for years or are just getting started, most people will  say yes.  (This is definitely the case in urban settings where municipal codes require predator-proof coops as part of their chicken ordinance.)   But if you ask them if they have a chicken tractor, you may get an odd look.

homemade chicken tractor

homemade chicken tractor

What is a chicken tractor you ask?  It is simply a moveable chicken coop that does not have a floor.  A chicken tractor is enclosed so it is predator-proof (typically woven wire over a wooden, metal, or pvc frame) but without a floor.  This allows the chickens to freely graze and scratch.  To make your chickens comfortable, it is easy to set a waterer inside as well as provide a covered nest box(es) at one end… allowing the chickens a private space to lay their eggs. Usually, these are not intended to be permanent housing for your chickens, but temporary.   Some folks use them seasonally while others may use them just for a few days or weeks out of the year.

nest box in chicken tractor

nest box in chicken tractor

Now there are chicken tractors large enough that it requires an actual tractor to move the chicken tractor while others are small enough that one person can easily move this portable coop on their own.  But as the chicken keeper, you can determine the size to suit your needs.  If you are farming or homesteading on 10 acres or more with a large flock, it may make sense to invest in a larger chicken tractor, while those who farm on an acre or less may opt for something they can easily move around by themselves.

secure door and latch on chicken tractor

secure door and latch on chicken tractor

Now while you are not required to have a chicken tractor, there are some benefits to having one that a traditional coop just can’t provide.

Benefits of a Chicken Tractor

  • Chickens can shallow till garden beds
  • Chickens will eat bugs and grubs that overwinter in your garden beds or wherever the tractor moved to
  • Provide natural fertilizer in small quantities (if tractor is moved every 24 hours)
  • Less maintenance than a coop (since it is intended to be moved every day, bedding is not required)
  • Provides a more natural diet for chickens compared to standard layer mash
  • Allows chickens to free-range, but they remain protected from predators
  • Lawn or pasture is not destroyed (taken down to bare dirt) since it is moveable compared to a standard chicken run
  • Desired plants remain safe while chickens ‘free-range’ in the chicken tractor (no more missing tomatoes or devastated herb pots) compared to traditional free-ranging methods

    chicken tractor in use

    chicken tractor in use

Now while a chicken coop will always be part of our urban homestead, the chicken tractor also has a home in our backyard.  If it is solidly built (predator-proof), designed for one (or two people) to easily move it around, it provides benefits that just aren’t capable with a standard coop.   So whether you are an experienced chicken keeper or someone new to this hobby, chicken tractors deserve a place on the modern homestead.

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13 responses »

    • That sounds like a great chicken tractor. Our tractor is in our garden now and the chickens are doing some shallow tilling and going after bugs. Hope your snow melts quickly.

    • I think that chicken tractors are great, especially as a way to allow your chickens to ‘free-range’ but within the safety of the chicken tractor. (This is very helpful for us since we have hawks and foxes that are frequent visitors to our backyard.) Looking forward to checking out your page.

  1. Ahh, chicken tractors! We just moved back to the city for a while after being in the country and raising huge flocks of free-ranging birds. I’ve been dreaming of getting some for our little urban homestead here. I definitely want to do a chicken tractor, thanks for reminding me of how excellent they are! you can check out my blog at http://lydiashandemadelife.blogspot.com if you’d like to see our homestead in action.

    • Chicken tractors are pretty great, aren’t they? We love ours. This time of year, we chicken tractor is put to good use in our various garden beds. The chickens are happily digging up bugs and grubs, snacking on a few dandelions and grass that has made its way into the beds. I will swing by and check you out.

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  3. I remember a few years ago when my husband first told me about chicken tractors. I thought he was crazy. Part of it was that when I imagined our life with chickens I imagined a cutesy coop with pretty flowers around it. A moveable coop did not fit in my mind’s picture. Years later – we have both. My favorite thing about the chicken tractors are that I can move them over a patch of weeds I don’t want to pull. The chickens are more than happy to eat them.

    • We love our chicken tractor and use it to when prepping the garden beds in the spring and then also again in the fall after we start pulling up plants. My husband made our chicken tractor using mainly recycled materials so it cost next to nothing to build.

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