Wednesday, April 6, 2016

The $42 Chicken Tractor

I didn't want a chicken tractor, 
buuuuuut. . . . 
Well, you see, it's like this:
Mr. LB was grumbling and grumbling about runny store-bought eggs.
Once upon a time I had chickens,
but a mink got into the coop.
Let's just say I really don't like mink.
Gloves and stoles are justified.
I wasn't going to have more chickens until I could build
the fort clucks of chicken coops.
So a couple weeks ago I came home with 4 wee little fluff balls
that made cute little peeping noises.
(as opposed to the dozen I used to keep)
Those fluff balls are about 3 weeks old now and
are making a mess in the shop bathroom.
Last weekend I started what I have been referring to as
The Bird Mobile.

I had Mr. LB bring home 8-2X3s and a 25' roll of 2 ft. wide,
1/2" grid hardware cloth.
(I had actually asked for 1X3s, but 2X3s were cheaper- go figure.)
Cost: boards $15 and wire $25=$40 so far.

I had measurements worked out so I didn't use more than 25 ft.
of the wire.
I actually don't like chicken wire.
It's difficult to work with and small critters can still get through it.
The hardware cloth is sturdier and easier to work with.
I made the box a little shy of 6.5 ft. long and 2 ft. tall.
I wrapped the outer "walls" with the wire stapling it in place.
Then 2 widths across the top one end.
(Never mind the stick sitting on top. Odd, the things that happen when working on a project.)  
The drops from the long sides are what I used for the corner posts
in the cabin/nest box.

These old trim boards were here when we moved in about 15 years ago.
They were in the old leaky falling down shed that is now gone,
then under the lean-to.
One of those things that I knew would someday come in handy.
If you don't have trim boards cluttering up your lean-to,
you could also use pallet boards just as easily.
We also have a plethora of screws in various sizes.
Because these are thinner boards, I did pre-drill the holes.
I know it takes a little longer, but then the boards don't split.
(I will put pine needles and shavings in here for them.)
For the "nest box," I used a scrap of plywood and another trim board.
Again this is something that could be done with pallet wood.
By the end of last weekend, this is as far as I had it.
(I started by pre-staining the boards then just wanted to get it put together.  That's also why there is a sheet under the coop - didn't want the stain on that nice clean shop floor:)
Today, got a few things finished up.
I put a handle on the door which cost about $2.
That brings our total to $42.
I think we have a little latch out in the shop.
If I can't find one and have to buy one, that might add another $2.
Mr. LB made the brackets for the wheels.
The wheels are more of those saved items.
When the kids were little, they had a few hand me down bikes
before they ever got their very own 'new' bikes.
Some of those bikes were still in good enough shape that they were
passed on again.
Those that had lived out their usefulness, 
I kept the wheels and disposed of the rest.
If you know someone who works at the dump/transfer station,
you might ask if they have bikes come in to snag one.
  I suppose part of the keeping things that might someday be useful,
is knowing what sorts of things are useful for your lifestyle.
Mr. LB and I both grew up on ranches, and at times we question
why the other might want to keep a certain item(s) but
we usually end up being okay with the "cluttery" items we keep.
We would probably have no idea what is useful when living a different lifestyle.
(All the same sealant/stain just new wood vs. old wood.)
The roof was more scrap plywood - it had really seen better days,
but it would be covered with tin.
We ended up with a sheet of tin for free.
If you know anyone who does metal buildings,
there is often a misc. piece strapped over the metal for the buildings
so the good metal isn't damaged.
There is nothing wrong with this piece.  
It's simply a different color from the building metal.
For this project, we weren't picky and obviously the price was right.
And in the process of doing this post and uploading pictures,
I did notice that Mr. LB didn't stain the board he used to attach
the wheel brackets.
That was probably so I will something to do tomorrow.
The only thing not in the pictures is that I am going to run a string or rope
from the bottom of the ladder up through the wire 
so I can lift it while moving it.
Since it drags, I don't want it jarred and twisted.

For 4 little birds until we build a 'real coop,'
I think it'll suffice. 
Looking forward to fresh eggs and a clean shop bathroom.


  1. how lovely to have some little chicks and loving their 2 storey home it will be a while I suppose before they are pld enough to produce eggs, will you be naming them?

    1. Typically I just call the pick picks. They all look alike though they are developing personalities.

  2. Your chickens are going to love this! It's the Rolls-Royce of chicken coops.

  3. So cute, you did a wonderful job and your 'girls' will love it. Hope you have lots of eggs this fall.

  4. very nice!
    We have not had chickens in a while. We have tossed the idea around of getting laying chickens again. If we do, we want to use a chicken tractor.
    Thanks for sharing your post at the Hop this week :)

  5. That's a nice tractor. We are so hilly and rocky that I can't have one that will sit flat to the ground. I am glad you'll be enjoying fresh eggs in the near future.

  6. I am going to make this just as soon as it stops raining. Love it.

  7. Such a great idea! you two are SO clever!

  8. I like your design & easy directions. But please tell how you keep the digging predators out?

  9. Perfect! We have been looking for a mobile chook run for 3 little fluff balls that Mumma hen hatched us 3 weeks ago until they are big enough to be with the flock.

  10. How do you keep the chickens from getting loose when you move the coop?

  11. Replies
    1. I only used it one year in order to follow the lambs. I sold it the following year.

  12. Looks just what I have been trying to find off for timber tomorrow thanks for sharing

  13. Any chance you have used this for rabbits? And if so, how many do you think it could suit?

    1. I did not. My experience with rabbits is they like to dig under such things so if you are considering that, you might put a larger mesh on the underside so the grass can come through but the bunnies can't escape. I kept 2 hens in it. 2-4 was optimal and I would think rabbits would be about the same as long as they don't fight (some rabbits do so).