Chicken tractors can be constructed from many different materials, but with my husband being a welder, our material of choice is always metal. All the tractors are built using "box section", metal mesh and roof sheeting. I've seen tractors made from wood (very good example here) and from poly pipe, so if you're not into metal, then there are plenty of other options. You can also size them to fit on your garden beds or between rows in an orchard to till the soil and catch bugs. If you make them from light material they will be easier to move.
Most of our tractors have two doors, one large door for the chickens to get out to free-range, or for us to crawl in and catch them when necessary. The other, smaller, door is for refilling food and collecting eggs. You will also need hinges and catches for the doors, but these don't need to be complicated, one of ours broke recently, so I just use some wire to secure the door now. On the last large tractor we made, we only used one door to save on materials, if you are clever about where to put everything, you can get away with one door.
We found that the chicken tractors got too hot in summer, and its hard to have them parked under a tree all the time, when the purpose is to move them, so we clipped shade cloth onto the mesh at the top to keep the tractors cool. This blocks the midday sun, but the chickens can still enjoy morning and afternoon sun.
|this one only has one door at the back|
Our chicken tractors have been perfect for our needs and would suit any small acerage property that had a bit of flat land (and the small ones would work in a normal house block), but now that we have a larger property and would love to one day keep pastured poultry to clean up after our cattle (a la Joel Salatin) one day soon we will be designing new chicken tractors on a larger scale. Our experience with small tractors for 3-10 chickens will help us to make something that can house 100 chickens.
|shade cloth clipped on the top mesh|
Do you use chicken tractors? What are they made out of and how to you build the? Any clever ideas?