Chicken Tractor Trials

Free range chickens have their problems. One is having chickens show up in the front yard, even coming onto the porch. This is an annoyance. I thought about building a chicken tractor.

A more serious problem is the threat of predators. My flock had no predators bother them for several years. Then a family of gray foxes moved onto the hill opposite the barn.

There were gray foxes on the house side of the road 25 years ago. I saw one now and then, even saw one climb a tree once. Gray foxes do climb trees. Red foxes don’t.

chicken tractor

The chicken tractor is about four feet wide by ten feet long with an open bottom. This is the second day and the hens were happier with a rooster in the tractor with them. The nest box was too exposed so an old towel was laid over to make a wall over and behind. The hens are nervous being out in the grass danger area (known to be close to the fox run). they don’t understand how they can be outside and not able to race off to wherever. This tractor is definitely not fox proof so I put chickens out only when I will be going by frequently. Besides, the shade keeps moving and the sun is hot.

Fifteen or more years ago the foxes moved away. No new ones moved in until a month or so ago.

Foxes love chicken dinner. My hens started to disappear.

The only solution is to keep the flock confined. The chickens hate it. The hot weather makes it worse.

A chicken tractor became more appealing. The flock still numbers 22. Moveable chicken pens normally hold less than a dozen.

hen in chicken tractor

This hen wants out! She paces back and forth along the wire poking at it. She did finally settle down a bit.

I looked up chicken tractors. All chicken tractors have some kind of sturdy frame covered with wire. Otherwise they come in many shapes and sizes. They are built of different materials. Which idea might work for me? Is a chicken tractor the answer?

A friend has loaned me her version. It isn’t fancy. It was their first attempt and has several things they would do differently in the future. Still, it was a chance for me to try a chicken tractor out and see if it will work for my flock.

My hens range from one year to five years old. They are a motley crew of various breeds. There are three roosters whose main activity is to argue with one another. As the tractor only holds six or seven chickens, I would have to pick some out for that day.

chickens eating in chicken tractor

It occurred to me the chickens go in and out of their house to eat at the feeder. I put a dish of feed out in the chicken tractor. They ate the first one so I put in a second one. This seemed to make the hens settle down.

I snagged seven hens and shoved them into the chicken tractor. They got upset at being caught. They were not impressed by being in a cage. Having access to fresh grass didn’t cheer most of them up.

Next time I snagged six hens and a rooster. They seemed a bit happier. Water fount and nest box made the tractor better in their opinion. They still pace the wire wanting out.

I am learning. I hope the chickens will learn too. It’s hard for them to be confined after being free range.