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The Best DIY Chicken Tractor for your Hens

There are many ways to build a chicken coop, but this A-Frame Mobile Chicken Tractor is one of the best options if you want to free-range while keeping your flock safe.

Tractor plans are available in 3 different sizes! 

It’s that time of year when we chicken-lovers are either planning out our first backyard flock or thinking about how we want to expand our existing flock. 

With all the planning that goes into starting out with chickens, how to build a chicken coop is usually at the top of the list. 

The Best DIY Chicken Tractor for your Hens

There are so many ways to build your chicken coop, but today I want to share with you one of the absolute best DIY chicken coop options for your flock if you want to free range while still keeping your hens safe - and that is the A-frame Mobile Chicken Tractor.

I'm thrilled to have Kelsey Jorisson Olesen from Green Willow Homestead as the guest writer for this post. I was recently a guest on The Positively Green Podcast that she hosts, so I wanted to return the favor and have Kelsey write this guest post about her DIY Chicken Tractor. 

So, I'll turn it over to Kelsey so she can tell you all about the Best DIY Chickn Tractor she and her husband designed to keep her flock - and now yours as well - safe.

Before we dive in, let me introduce myself! My name is Kelsey Jorissen Olesen and I’m the crazy chicken lady behind the Green Willow Homestead blog.

My husband and I have a beautiful 80-acre farm and homestead in Northwest Wisconsin where we raise pastured poultry and dairy goats as well as grow veggies in our market garden.

I love sharing everything I’ve learned about raising hens, living sustainably, and running a farm business over on my site Green Willow Homestead. Okay, back to the best DIY chicken coop…

The Story Behind The DIY A-Frame Mobile Chicken Tractor

Let’s rewind back to 2016 when I started out with my very first flock of hens. After months of research (and let me add that Lisa’s blog here was one of the best resources!), I knew that free-range *and* pastured hens were the happiest and healthiest hens.

For those that don’t know - free-range and pastured means the chickens have free access outdoors to go out on the grass so they can eat all the bugs, plants, and herbs they like. 

The two problems that I ran into immediately are what most backyard chicken owners face. First, my chickens never failed to stray a bit too far, get on the wrong side of the fence, and into our neighbors' yards (or flower beds eek!).

When I would open the coop door every morning, offering them their free-range freedom, I found myself checking on them every 45 minutes. It would disrupt my day, I was constantly stressed out, and the hens would always wind up in some sort of trouble. 

The second issue is safety from predators. When hens free-range all day they are completely exposed to any sort of chicken-eating predator. The lengthy list of predators hens face when they free-range includes hawks, eagles, raccoons, dogs, coyotes, opossums, weasels, and cats - and that’s just here in Wisconsin!

After a few weeks of free-ranging my very first flock, imagine my dismay when I came out to check on my girls and found feathers and blood everywhere. My heart sank as I did a headcount and found two of my girls missing... 

A hawk had been through my flock and thus began the conundrum that most backyard chicken owners face: Do you let your hens free-range and take the risk of a predator attack or do you keep them cooped up and safe and limit their diet and their happiness?

That's where our A-frame mobile chicken coop tractor made chicken keeping a hundred percent easier!

What is an A-frame Mobile Chicken Tractor?

This specific style of chicken coop is mobile, meaning it moves and pivots on wheels, allowing you to move your hens to a new patch of grass as often as you please.

The A-frame style allows for a nicely sized roosting and nesting box area with exterior access. The overall structure provides protection from daytime aerial predators (like hawks and eagles) and the roosting ramp pulley system keeps your hens shut up safe in their roosting area at night, safe from nighttime ground predators like raccoons, weasels, and coyotes. 

Why did we design our own DIY chicken tractor?

When I set out to research and find a solution that would help merge the benefits of free-range and pastured with the safety of an enclosed chicken coop, I realized three things very quickly when looking at other tractor designs available on the internet:

1. If I wanted to purchase an A-frame chicken tractor ready to go for my flock of hens, I was looking at forking out over $1200. I started backyard chickens to cut costs, not splurge. Buying some sort of ready-built chicken tractor brand new was not an option for me.

2. The chicken tractor designs I found online were ugly. Plain and simple. They used things like plastic tarps (that tore in a matter of months, warranting spending more money over time) or were basically backyard eye-sores that I know my neighbors would not appreciate. I wanted something beautiful and built to last, but I was coming up empty-handed.

3. The mobility of the chicken coop tractors I was finding seemed extremely questionable for a 135 lb. female like myself. I wanted to move my flock every day to a fresh patch of grass. I didn’t want something bulky that was supposed to be pulled on sliders. I wanted easy and efficient mobility but I kept coming up short.

My wonderful husband watched patiently as I continued to grow more and more frustrated, all the while letting my flock free-range. Then, I lost two more hens and a rooster to a pernicious hawk.

I was at the end of my rope. I admitted to him in tears that I might as well throw in the towel completely. I wasn’t cut out for owning hens because my heart couldn’t take losing them nor could it take keeping them cooped up like prisoners for their own safety. 

He then sat me down and asked, “What would you build if you could do it completely from scratch?”

I thought for a moment and told him to get me a pencil and paper. Then, I started to draw out what I saw in my head. Using his decade of experience as an engineer, he helped me design the idea I had.

We talked through all the basic predator scenarios we had encountered and how best to mitigate them with our design. We also talked through my daily workflow with feeding, watering, and gathering eggs and made further design tweaks that would make my life as a chicken momma a heck of a lot easier. 

Using this pencil and paper design, my husband went to work on CAD and drafted the design within a 3-D model. A trip to Menards and one Amazon order later - we built our very first A-frame mobile chicken tractor.

The build took us about 20 hours in total and we learned a lot along the way, making further tweaks to the design so that the next build would be even easier. 

Once friends and neighbors saw our DIY chicken tractor, we got asked repeatedly to share our design with others so we decided to compile a build plan PDF of step-by-step instructions, including diagrams, pictures, and even a few videos.

Then in 2019 after we had sold over 1000 DIY chicken tractor build plans, we decided to offer three different chicken tractor sizes depending on your flock’s needs. To date, we’ve sold over 2500 chicken tractor build plans all over the world!

What makes our DIY Chicken Tractor design the best one out there?

Aside from our chicken tractor being featured by Bob Villa, Farmhouse on Boone, Modern Farmer, Countryside Magazine, (and now Fresh Eggs Daily!) - we’ve solved multiple issues with our unique design. Let’s talk over some of the key features:

  • All the benefits of free-range with none of the risks. Predator pressure is a non-issue now that we house our flocks in these A-Frame Chicken Tractors.  We live in a massive wildlife corridor and see everything from bald eagles to coyotes. Nevertheless, housing our hens inside tractors since 2016 we have yet to lose a single hen.
  • Pastured hens are healthy hens. Our ladies get to fulfill all their chicken needs by scratching through the grass and clover, searching for bugs and worms to eat. You can move the tractor as many times as you like to a new patch of grass and let them do their thing.
  • Easily movable and turn-able. The A-frame chicken tractor has a unique wheel design that went through many variations until we found the one that would stand the test of time. We came up with this design all on our own and have yet to see another build plan online that utilizes it. As a 5'4" 135 lb female, I can move and turn these tractors on a dime, all by myself.
  • Durable *and* beautiful. ​Having a mobile structure to move across the grass that is both aesthetically beautiful and sturdy is a godsend. From the A-frame design to the solid-rubber tires, our tractors are made to last. We wanted to build it once and have it be maintenance free and last.
  • Exterior nesting box access. Gathering eggs has been a breeze. We get about 5 dozen eggs a day and having exterior access to nesting boxes has been essential to our efficient workflow on the farm.
  • You won’t kill your grass. Practice rotational grazing right in your backyard. The chickens fertilize our pasture and lawn for us and we can move it before their manure piles up. This chicken tractor created a noticeable difference in the health of our soil after just one month.
  • Great for nearly all climates. During the summer, the white corrugated steel reflects the sun, which helps the hens stay cool during the day and then dry and warm if a storm rolls in. If you live in USDA zones 7-4, we include an entire section on how to winterize the tractor too! If you live in a particularly windy area, we’ve had customers tell us the tractors have stayed put in up to 50mph winds. 
  • Secure and safe at night, just like a stationary coop. The roosting area gets shut up safe and tight with a ramp that operates on a special pulley system. The hens then roost on a diagonal roost and below them is metal fencing - which has holes big enough to allow their manure to fall through but small enough to keep predators from getting in. The added bonus is this system allows you to move the tractor in the morning before you let the hens out without them getting in the way.
  • The neighbors won’t complain and there’s no need for permits. The other added bonus is many cities have tight building codes and a mobile structure like the A-frame chicken tractors doesn't require a permit.  Our city has a lot of red tape for building permanent structures so constructing a mobile tractor was the path of least resistance.

The Best DIY Chicken Tractor Build Plans

All of our downloadable build plans include a 45+ page PDF with a full materials + tools + hardware list, step-by-step instructions, and full-color diagrams + pictures. 

The Mini Chicken Tractor 

  • Flock size: 4 - 6 hens
  • Nesting Boxes: 1+ (sized to fit three hens at once)
  • Dimensions: 6’W x 8’L x 5.5‘H
  • Estimated Materials Cost: $450 - $550*
  • Build Time: 20 hours

​The Mini A-Frame Chicken Tractor is perfect for the suburban chicken keeper. Your municipal laws most likely allow for 4 - 6 chickens, meaning your tiny flock needs a cozy space like this to call home.

The small footprint of this Mini Mobile Chicken Tractor is ideal for backyards, allowing you enough space to simply park it or easily push it around your lawn. 

Not a single neighbor will complain about the sight of this gorgeous and timeless design. The white corrugated steel never rusts and the lumber never molds with our recommended eco-stain treatment. 

All our A-Frame Chicken Tractors are dog-proof, raccoon-proof, weasel-proof, coyote-proof, and hawk/owl-proof ensuring your hens will be kept safe from all suburban predators. Our design not only gives you peace of mind, but also keeps your flock’s stress levels at an absolute minimum.

The Medium Chicken Tractor

  • Flock Size: 6 - 10 hens
  • Dimensions: 6’W x 10’L x 5.5’H
  • Nesting Boxes: 4
  • Estimated Materials Cost: $500 - $600*
  • Build Time: 22 hours

The Medium A-Frame Chicken Tractor is perfect for a larger suburban lot or hobby farm. Your municipal laws are less stringent, allowing for a bigger flock size of 6 - 10 hens that can feed you and your family breakfast each and every day. The mid-sized footprint of this tractor allows you to simply park it or easily move it around your yard as needed.

The timeless and beautiful design of this A-Frame Chicken Tractor will make your heart happy every time you lay eyes on it (ours certainly does!). The white corrugated steel never rusts and the lumber never molds with our recommended eco-stain treatment. 

The Mega Chicken Tractor

  • Flock Size: 15 - 20 hens
  • Dimensions: 8’W x 10’L x 7’H
  • Nesting Boxes: 4
  • Estimated Materials Cost: $650 - $750*
  • Build Time: 24 hours

The Mega A-Frame Chicken Tractor is ideal for small farms or homesteads that are looking to house a larger flock of 15 - 20 hens per tractor.

On our farm, we built two Mega Tractors that in total house our pastured flock of 40, providing us delicious eggs for our roadside farm stand. 

With 15 - 20 hens, the Mega Chicken Tractor works best on flat or gently sloping pasture. We recommend moving the Mega Tractor at least once per day to give your flock continued access to fresh forage. 

If you keep a livestock guardian dog (LGD) on staff, you can house up to 30 birds per tractor. With this scenario, you must completely open up the tractor and let them out to forage outside under the LGD’s watchful eye.

With this method, we recommend using Premier 1 Electric Poultry Netting to keep your hens contained within a safe perimeter. 

The Multi Mobile Chicken Tractor Bundle

Can’t decide which size is best for you? Download all three build plans for less than the price of two! The Bundle includes the Mini, Medium, and Mega Mobile Chicken Tractor Build Plan PDFs sent immediately to your inbox.

Also be sure to check out the plans for this Chick Brooder Box also from Kelsey at  Green Willow Homestead.

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