stumbled into chickens, so Mark made our first three chicken tractors
very quickly to give them a home. This photo shows his earliest
design which was very cheap and relatively easy to build.
First, Mark cut down
some trees that were encroaching on the garden and used them to make a
rectangular frame for the bottom of the tractor. He cut a length
of concrete-reinforcing mesh (remesh) to form a hoop, drilling holes in
the base logs to run the ends of the remesh through and attach it into
place. He framed up a door with smaller branches and covered the
whole thing (except the bottom) with chicken wire. Inside, he
made a nest box out of an old milk crate and a perch out of another
branch. Then he covered the back quarter of the tractor with an
old tarp to keep the chickens snug.
Although it is
functional, this tractor had to be slightly rebuilt three years later
because the logs on the ground started to rot out. We used
walnut, and in retrospect wish we'd used red
cedar, which is naturally rot-resistant. Treated lumber or
PVC pipes are another good option if you want to spend a bit more money.
Mark also went in and
added a cover to the nest box. There's nothing worse than nice,
fresh eggs getting soaked and muddy, and our hens didn't much like
laying in the rain either. As you'll see, Mark made the nest
boxes in his later tractors even fancier.
While you're planning
your chicken tractor, don't forget to add in an automatic chicken waterer --- essential to protect
your hens from dehydration which happens when conventional waterers
spill on uneven ground.
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