Story & Photos By Carole West
Are you looking for a chicken tractor plan that will protect chickens from hawks and other predators while allowing them to free range? There are a lot of options and I’ve found you have to do what fits your goals and environment.
On our farm, we’ve always used mobile coops (chicken tractors) because we let our birds free range during the day. We prefer this chicken tractor plan for the following reasons:
• Less cleaning;
• Less grass destruction;
• No ongoing wood shaving expense;
• Droppings fertilize the pasture; and
• Helps establish a healthy independent flock.
This chicken tractor plan allows for placement in a pasture. This area provides a welded wire fence and guard animals to protect against sky and ground predators. We’ve had successful results with a fraction of the effort.
Chores were decreased because there is no major coop cleaning; you simply push the structure forward every other day onto fresh grass, which takes about two minutes. About once a month the roosting bars are washed off with a garden hose and the nest bedding is changed when necessary.
The chicken tractor is free from bad aromas that can be associated with raising chickens. Their environment reflects fresh country air and a pleasure to approach.
With this chicken tractor plan, the food and water dishes can be stored in or outside, and I like to keep their food outside the coop as feed is a supplement and water can be found in small troughs nearby.
If the idea of a mobile chicken coop sounds appealing then you may want to consider raising your new or existing flock in a coop similar to the one we’re going to build with this chicken tractor plan.
The Coop Project
This chicken tractor plan is a fun project and very easy to modify for small, medium or large flocks. The house is a 7-by-3-foot frame and will fit up to 12 to 14 chickens.
With this coop, the chickens would sleep here at night and lay eggs in nesting boxes during the day. The rest of their daylight hours would be spent outdoors free ranging in a protected fenced in pasture or backyard.
This chicken tractor plan is an easy build for established or beginner builders. It includes a few angle cuts so if that sounds intimidating skip the angles and just build a box shape using the same instructions. When you learn to modify a project you can almost always create what you’re imagining.
Building Supply List
• Electric Saw
• Drill, for pilot holes and screws
• Measuring tape
• Wire cutters
• Staple gun with heavy duty staples
• Long deck mate screws, 1-pound box
• Short deck mate screws, 1-pound box
• Two, 8-foot corrugated roof panels, screws and roof seal tape
• 12 8-foot 2-by-4s
• 12 8-foot pine fence boards
• One 6-foot 4-by-4
• Chicken wire
• Four wheels including hardware
• Socket set for wheel installation
• Hardware, hinges, and locks
The Chicken Coop Frame
Begin building the frame with 2-by-4s according to the following measurements. If you decide a square coop is a better option than round off the four support corners to the same length.
• Bottom ends, two at 3.3 feet
• Roof ends, two at 3.4 feet with a slight angle cut
• Width of frame, four at 7 feet
• Front support/height corners, two at 2.10 feet with a slight angle cut
• Back support/height corners, two at 2.4 with a slight angle cut
• Roof support beams, two at 3 feet
• Roosting support bar, two at 3 feet
• Roosting bars, two at 7 feet
Before you assemble the frame drill pilot holes before you screw the boards together. This keeps the wood from splitting and makes this project easier to build. This is a step we will use through the entire project.
Work on a flat surface, everything needs to be lined up correctly. We build from the bottom up by inserting two screws at each corner. Once you have the floor frame connected you can add the support corners, long in front short in the back. Add these boards with three screws so the 4-inch width is facing the end.
Continue by adding the roof support bars, when these boards are in place lay a pine board on the roof checking that all your angle cuts are aligned correctly.
The next placement will be to add two 3-feet roosting support bars. These fit inside each end of the coop.
Adding the Wheels
Cut your 4-by-4 beam in two 3-foot pieces and insert to the base of the frame. Then flip the frame completely over onto the roof and add your wheels. It’s easier to add the wheels when the coop is light.
You can purchase wheels at any home improvement or farm store where they also sell the correct hardware. Drill pilot holes first and use a socket set to insert each bolt. Make sure your wheels are aligned in the correct direction and once you complete this task it’s time to flip the coop onto its wheels.
Adding the Chicken Nesting Boxes
We’re adding the nesting box on the end of the coop.
The box fits together with leftover 2-by-4 pieces from the frame cuts. Prepare one 2.5 feet for the back and two 1.4 foot for the walls. Connect the frame and then screw into the side of the roosting cross bar. Then add the corner posts to the box which are 1-foot each.
If you think you want additional nesting space then go ahead and duplicate this step on the opposite end. Remember when you purchase wood to add an additional 2-by-4 and two pine boards to cover the adjustment. You will also need another safety lock and set of hinges.
Adding Chicken Wire
Before we move any further we must add the chicken wire floors to the frame and nesting box. Make sure this wire is stretched tight before stapling in place. Cut off any excess wire after its attached using wire cutters.
The wire floor allows the chicken’s droppings to fall onto the ground, which keeps the coop from smelling bad. This addition also keeps predators from getting inside. The chickens will only sleep in here at night and lay eggs during the day so there will be very little walking on the chicken wire.
At this point in the project, you may want to paint the frame of the coop.
Adding the Walls
Before we begin adding walls, make sure you install the chicken roosting bars. Place them at equal distance so it’s easy for the chickens to jump and get comfortable.
Begin by cutting pine boards to fit the back and end walls. Measurements will depend on how you want the wood to connect at the corners. Make sure to leave a small gap toward the top for ventilation, as it’s always a good to have fresh air circulating.
When you begin adding wood to the end of the coop there will be a few angle cuts toward the top, measure correctly before cutting the correct fit. Once these walls are complete let’s move over to the front of the coop.
This is where I plan to add a window. Add three boards, one on top and two on the bottom. I split one of my boards to create a narrow window, this was a personal choice.
We’re getting to that point in the project where we can stand back and smile because we’re almost finished.
Adding Chicken Wire Window
Attach the Roof
To keep your coop lightweight use corrugated roof panels; you could also use a sheet of plywood if you prefer. Use the proper hardware and attach to the roof panels and frame until secure.
Finishing the Nesting Box
Now it’s time to finish the nesting box. Use pine boards to close in the walls of the box. Then continue to place fitted pine boards to close in the walls around the box.
The next part of this chicken coop plan is to make the roof. I did a shingle style roof but you can also take board’s lengthwise and connect them with screws from underneath. When finished attached the lid to the box with hinges and add a lock to keep any type of predator from getting inside.
Building the Double Door
We’ll be creating a double door that is best assembled on a flat surface. During the day the main door stays closed and the small door remains open for the chickens to come and go as they please. When the chickens go in for the night that small door is designed to close shut by using a piece of wood to overlap.
This door is made with the pine fence boards, these measurements include the frame and inside pieces.
• Top frame, one at 3.7 feet
• Bottom frame, one at 3.7-by-1.5 feet
• Door height, three at 2.2 feet
• Left side width pieces, two at 1.9 feet
• Chicken door, two at 1.11 feet
• Include four cross pieces for the chicken door
Assembly is very simple and the door is connected using the smaller screws. First, lay the three 2.2s and then add the top and bottom pieces so our door fits correctly from corner to corner. Then go ahead and screw these pieces together.
Add the two 1.9 pieces to the left and close the gap with chicken wire. I added this window for additional ventilation.
When winter hits you can cover the same way you decide to cover the other window.
The chicken door is quick and connected with the four cross pieces, two on each side. This is connected to the main door using hinges.
Finally, add hinges to the main door and connect to the chicken coop. You’ll want to add additional hardware that offers a tight connection for locking the main door.
Exterior Finish and Fun Details
The exterior finish can be painted, stained or left to weather. I choose to paint the frame and let the rest of the coop go natural. Eventually that wood will darken becoming gray.
With some of the scrap wood, I added planter boxes for something fun. Adding details are optional and a neat way to add your own creativity. The tree branches just caught my attention and it made sense to work them in.
I also love words so I thought adding some stenciling was a good fit. These signs were created on separate boards so they are easy to add or remove if I want to change them out later.
The final step is to move the chicken coop to its destination and introduce your chickens to their new home. I think we can agree they will love it.
This chicken tractor plan is a fun build and can be finished in a day or a couple of afternoons. Have fun with it and remember to make it your own.
Do you have experience in building a chicken tractor? What chicken tractor plan did you use?
Originally published in Backyard Poultry Feb/March 2017 and regularly vetted for accuracy.