If you find yourself torn between keeping your beloved chickens in a coop but are nervous about letting them free-range, you should consider using a chicken tractor.
Your hens will safely be able to explore new patches of ground each day while still enjoying security and shelter.
Building a chicken tractor can be a fun and rewarding project that you can easily DIY. There are plenty of free, easy-to-follow plans available. Simple chicken tractors are usually constructed from PVC pipe or are basic A-frame shape.
Selecting the most suitable design for you and your flock might be the most challenging part of the process.
Luckily, we put together a guide to help you choose the best chicken tractor. We also showcase 10 of the best chicken tractor designs we could find.
Let’s take a look!
Free DIY Chicken Tractor Plans
Things to Consider Before You Start Construction
Before you build or plan your chicken tractor, there are a few variables to consider.
These are the most critical tips.
Space Required Per Chicken
The space you need depends on the breed. Each laying hen should have at least 4 square feet of room. Broilers need about half of that.
Will the Chicken Tractor Be the Permanent Coop?
The chicken tractor can be part of their permanent coop, or you can limit use to during daytime hours.
If it is their permanent housing, try to make it as spacious as possible per bird. Overcrowding will lead to stress that will affect laying and may even lead to unwanted behavior caused by frustration.
Attaching your coop to a tractor provides your chickens with both the space to stretch and an area to seek cover at night. But overstuffed coops or tractors make it nearly impossible to keep clean.
Contrarily, clean chicken coops lead to happier birds and safe living conditions – so keeping tidy is a top priority.
How Tall Does the Chicken Tractor Need to Be?
The area where the chickens will be foraging will not need to be very high. But they will need to feel safe while laying and roosting, so that area should be at least 2 feet to 4 feet. The higher, the better.
You can either choose a plan that is equal in height throughout – or raised on one side.
The frequency of predators in your area is also of dire concern. Consider the risk in your area. If you have many predators in your neighborhood – don’t hesitate to have a 6-foot high chicken fence for your chicken tractor. Or higher!
How Many Nesting Boxes Will Be Required?
Most chicken owners agree that one nesting box per four or five hens is sufficient. If you only have five or six hens, consider two nesting boxes to be safe and keep everyone in the tractor happy.
Err on the side of too many nesting boxes rather than too few! Try to give your hens as much space as possible so they can live in a relaxed (and clean) environment.
I’d wager that your investment in a spacious nesting environment will result in happier hens! You may also find that nesting boxes are easier to keep clean if you have fewer hens per box.
How Will I Move the Chicken Tractor?
How you move your chicken tractor depends upon the design! Some chicken tractors can be moved easily by one person. Some larger tractors may require a quad or even a ride-on lawnmower to get the job done.
In a perfect world, you’ll want to move your chicken tractor at least once per week. Expose your chickens to new ground and shift the tractor often.
That way, your flock has plenty of fresh insects, grubs, seeds, and foliage to enjoy. That’s why planning the design of your chicken tractor is crucial!
10 Easy to Build DIY Chicken Tractor Plans
There are many ways you can build a chicken tractor, but the most popular and easy DIY plans have a PVC pipe or A-frame build. Here are my top picks for simple and effective.
PVC Chicken Tractor Plans
The best thing about chicken tractors constructed with PVC pipes is that they are lightweight, and you will be able to move them around (nearly) effortlessly and without fuss.
1. Back-to-Basics Chicken Tractor
This basic design will get your hens out and about safely without a lot of hassle. It is easy to construct and lightweight to move around.
It is intended only for day use, but you could easily add some laying boxes and an enclosed coop area if you wanted your hens to live in it.
While I love the simplicity of this design, I would probably feel safer securing the corners of the structure to the ground in case of sudden gusts of wind. Rope and tent pegs would work perfectly – just for some added peace of mind.
2. Best of Both Worlds Chicken Tractor
This tractor is spacious and open in the front, so your hens will have plenty of space to enjoy the outdoors. The coops are enclosed, and hens will feel safe while laying or sleeping.
The best part is that the design offers easy access to the eggs and the roosts are easy to clean.
I love this design. It is attractive and lightweight, so it’s easy to move, and you can decorate the enclosed coop section with some signage or vintage paint to become a feature in your yard. It’s a great blend of practicality and aesthetics.
3. PVC Hen Hideout
I had to double-take to see that this one is made from PVC because it looks like a solid structure. It is mounted on wheels, making it easy to move, and the design provides the birds with plenty of room.
This design would be the ideal chicken tractor to house your chickens permanently.
It may seem quite tricky to construct but remember, by using PVC plastic pipe, there is no chance that it will ever rot if you live in a wet area, so the initial time spent constructing it may very well end up saving you time in the long run.
I love the clear step-by-step instructions – the instructions teach how to put together the structure’s skeleton. I think the project is well worth the effort, and your hens will hopefully love living in this spacious home.
A-Frame Chicken Tractor Plans
A-framed designed chicken tractors are usually constructed from wood and are heavier duty than the PVC ones. They also often look more professional and are more suitable if your birds will live in the structure.
4. Easy Stress-Free A-Frame
Although the design is somewhat basic, laying boxes and an enclosed roost area could be added without much effort. I grade this chicken tractor a 10 out of 10 for being easy to construct!
The basic frame could also modify to house any number of different types of farmyard animals.
I love the excellent (and spacious) design because you can fit inside yourself and work with your birds.
It can also be moved easily by one person by just dragging it into a new position. I love its simplicity, and the solid wooden frame means that it can withstand strong wind.
5. Rustic A-Frame
This design will cost you less than $100 to construct and is a secure chicken tractor that is also easy to move. The roof could be adapted and made out of any roofing material. The nests nestle in the enclosed section of the top.
You can also choose a material that you can build without fuss – which do you prefer?
The design accommodates around five hens, but you can modify the basic to make the frame higher if you have more hens.
6. BG’s Little Egg Factory
This little egg factory is just the cutest little A-frame chicken tractor ever!
The coop area is constructed cleverly over the ground area. That way, the birds have an open space to scratch and enjoy being on the ground before moving to their cozy roosts at night.
It may be slightly more complicated to construct than some of the other plans, but very detailed plans are available that will take you through the process one small step at a time. The result is definitely worth the effort.
Super Simple Chicken Tractors
These chicken tractor plans are super simple and easy to DIY. You may even have the correct building materials lying around in your shed already.
7. Recycled and Perfect
I love this recycled design – it’s a wonderfully simple chicken tractor that is perfect for protecting tiny baby chickens.
You want your chicks to enjoy being outside but not be pestered by the turkeys and geese while still fragile. As they get a bit older, the doors open for effortless entry and exit.
This sturdy design mainly consists of recycled materials, is easy to build, and can be pushed around like a wheelbarrow. It is practical and gives plenty of shelter to your birds while allowing them to scratch about outside.
8. Joel Salatin Style Chicken Tractor
Check out this excellent design, especially if you keep broilers. It is easy to construct and offers a lot of space for birds that like to stay low on the ground. The coop section of the structure is made entirely of recycled (upcycled) material.
Many of us with farms have plenty of scraps lying around, so this would be a perfect way to make use of those.
I like this large-framed chicken tractor because it can move using a regular dolly. The entire frame is lightweight enough to lift the whole thing off the ground on one side and push it to a new position.
9. Pallet Palace Chicken Tractor
This pellet palace may not be the prettiest design, but it is straightforward to construct and extremely practical.
I’m sure that once you have the basic structure in place using the pallets, you could add some more homely touches to make it more outwardly attractive, but the hens definitely won’t mind and will love being outside to scratch and enjoy the fresh ground.
What I like about this plan is that it isn’t going to cost much.
Most of us already have pallets laying around, and you won’t need much more besides a staple gun, some roofing, and a roll of chicken wire to create something that your hens will thank you for over and over again.
10. Kerr Center Super-Cool Chicken Tractor
This one looks complicated, but it’s not. The frame is basic and easy to construct. It is perfect for areas that experience heavy weather.
The entire finished product should cost you less than $300, but it is a sturdy design, so you won’t have to worry about your birds if a sudden storm starts up. They can take shelter and ride out any heavy weather in their cozy roost area.
The only slight downfall of this design is that you require a vehicle or some extra help to move it. But other than that, your hens will stay healthy and happy in this lovely chicken manor.
Chicken Tractors Made Easy
Building a chicken tractor for your poultry will give you peace of mind knowing that they can enjoy being free-ranging in safety. There are plenty of DIY plans available which can adapt to your conditions and flock.
If you have further questions about chicken tractors, don’t hesitate to ask.
We welcome your comments, experience, and feedback.
We also thank you once again for reading!