There are many reasons to free range chickens. Your feed costs go down, the chickens are happier, healthier, and lay eggs better. Also, your lawn and garden get free fertilizer. Unfortunately, predatory animals, and other concerns, often make a movable pen the only practical way to fee range chickens. To make the chicken tractor easy to transport, it must be light weight, yet heavy enough to stay put in strong winds. Wheels or runners, on the frame of your tractor, will allow you to move it with minimal effort.
Things You'll Need
- Tape measure
- Screw gun with 1/2 inch drill bit
- Four 1/2x6 inch bolts
- Eight 1/2 inch nuts
- Four lawn mower wheels
- 1/2 inch socket wrench
Adding Lawn Mower Wheels to Your Chicken Tractor
Mark the horizontal location of each hole. On the left and right sides of your chicken tractor, measure and put pencil marks one foot from the front and back ends.
Mark the vertical location of each hole. Measure from the center of a wheel to its outer edge. Using this wheel dimension, find out how far your hole should be from the bottom to allow two inches of ground clearance when the wheels are installed. Mark this spot, in the same area as your previous marks, on all four corners of the tractor.
Drill holes in the frame. At the junction point of your marks, use your screw gun and 1/2 inch drill bit to drill holes through the tractor frame.
Install the hardware. Push each 1/2-by-6 inch bolt through a lawn mower wheel, one of the holes in the tractor frame, and a second lawn mower wheel. Thread two 1/2 inch nuts onto each bolt to secure and lock the wheels to the frame. Tighten the nuts with your 1/2 inch socket wrench.
Upgrading to Adjustable Wheels
Get a pair of adjustable wheels. You can often find used lawnmowers, with adjustable wheels, for next to nothing online or in your local shopping ads.
Choose the location for the wheels. Most chicken tractors have a perch and nest boxes at one end. This is the heavy side. You'll only need two wheels if you install them here. You can roll the tractor like a wheelbarrow, and you'll only have to raise two levers, on one end, to lift the wheels and prevent baby chicks, or predators, from getting in and out.
Mount the wheels so that they're just off the ground when the adjustment lever is all the way up. When you put the adjustment lever all the way down, you'll have about two inches of clearance between the tractor frame and the ground.
Tips & Warnings
- Wheels aren't the only way to move your chicken tractor. You can make runners by attaching old skis or lengths of PVC pipe that you've cut in half to the bottom sides of your tractor. These runners will allow you to slide the tractor across your yard with very little resistance.
- When you move the tractor with chickens in it, make sure they can keep up. If you go too fast, you might run over them!
- DAY RANGE POULTRY: Every Chicken Owner's Guide to Grazing Gardens and Improving Pastures; Andrew W. Lee, Patricia Foreman; 2002
- The $5 Chicken Tractor
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