Chicken Tractor

mike_stubbs(8, Bastrop, TX)April 18, 2003

OK I need some input here.

I want to get rid of the grass and weeds over the leach field in the back. I was thinking of buying some chickens and creating a chicken tractor. My thought is to have the tractor work over an area of lawn and, as I move it, plant wildflower seeds in the area just gone over. I want to start about the middle of August and go until they have covered the yard eating weed and grass seeds and bugs as they go along and depositing fertilizer too.

How about this? will it work?

This area grows way too fast. I have to, or should, mow it twice a week while the rest of the yard may be only every two weeks. I need the exercise but I then spend all my time mowing and not being able to enjoy the other aspects of gardening.

I am going to try to butcher my own chickens as they finish their work.

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Hey Mike,
Sounds like a great idea,I'd try it myself but I couldn't bring myself to butcher the chickens...let us know how it turns out.
By the way,read your previous posts but didn't repond as this is new to me this year and I live in a climate much different from yours.Looks as though you have an excellent start tho...good luck!!!

    Bookmark   April 18, 2003 at 7:02AM
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mike_stubbs(8, Bastrop, TX)

I may not butcher them all. I will probably keep them, or some of them, for eggs. May even let some of the eggs hatch. Never done this before. Could be I may have to abandon the idea of butchering them myself and send them to a market and let them do it for me.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2003 at 11:17PM
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Belgianpup(Wa/Zone 7b)

One tip I read about was to let the chickens graze for an hour or so before you feed them, first thing in the morning, after you move the tractor cage.

No reason why it shouldn't work.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2003 at 2:22PM
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Mercy_Garden(z5 Santa FeNM)

You could do the same thing with ducks (you would get to attached to butcher, I assure you) or guineas (you'll not get attached at all nor they to you, but they can continue to earn their keep after by removing all bugs and ticks from your land and roosting in your trees as homes).

Depending on how long the tractor sits in a spot, it might leave the ground a little "hot" (too much ammonia) for immediate planting. It breaks down pretty quickly, however--perhaps just a couple weeks would do it.

In Asia people have used geese as weeders/mowers/insect control for centuries. Good luck to you!

    Bookmark   April 21, 2003 at 4:23PM
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marshallz10(z9-10 CA)

I don't know what kind of predators you have out there, but I advise a night-roosting enclosure secured against predators. When I was younger, I tried the chicken tractor approach with good results but had a time with racoons and skunks at first. Now my chickens have their coop and a good sized run. From time to time, I place a temporary fencing around part of the vegetable beds and let the hens work over the area during the day before herding them back to the coop.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2003 at 9:37PM
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Can you please describe this temporary fencing?

    Bookmark   April 27, 2003 at 10:56PM
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kathcart(NE Okla 7 Ozark)

My friends use a chicken tractor with electric net fencing in their pastured poultry operation. The tractor is used as a coop and nesting area, and when there is a predator threat. They had their chicken area among sumac, which provided a good overhead barrier to hawks. Someimes they fence around their blackberry vines. They had one 10 by 10, but built a smaller one that would navigate easier around obstacles. They use a lawn tractor to move the big one. They use Starlinks-- sell great eggs and pastured poultry.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2003 at 7:57PM
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marshallz10(z9-10 CA)

Temporary fencing: rolls of poultry four-feet tall with one-inch openings. I drove 3/8ths rebar 5-foot lengths about a foot or so into the ground. I "threaded" the rebar through an opening near the bottom of the fence before pounding or pushing the rebar into the ground. Then I pulled up the fence enough to "thread" a top hole over the rebar. You can space the rebars every 6-8 depending on slope and routing.

I have tried to use horsefencing (too heavy and unwieldly) and plastic construction fencings (too floppy).

    Bookmark   May 3, 2003 at 8:11PM
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I'm ssorry I can't visualize this. You threaded the same rebar that is vertically pushed into the ground through and opening at the bottom (horizontal) part of the fence?

"I "threaded" the rebar through an opening near the bottom of the fence before pounding or pushing the rebar into the ground. Then I pulled up the fence enough to "thread" a top hole over the rebar. "

Please explain further, I'm very interested.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2003 at 11:21AM
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smittyct6(Z6 CT)

Anyone read the feb/mar 2003 chickens on wheels article in MEN's?
It has a predator resistant chicken tractor. I am thinking of building it.
In His Thyme Homestead

    Bookmark   May 6, 2003 at 4:09PM
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I currently have 16 pullets and 2 cockerels--3 1/2 month old Australorps)in an 8' square 3' tall chicken tractor and 15 layers in a second one. I move them by lifting one side with a hand truck and sliding 3 lengths of PVC pipe each under the parallel sides pointing in the direction I wish to move. One piece of PVC is at the leading edge, the second is in the middle and the last is 3/4 back from the leading edge. Then I lean into the side and push the whole business one 8' length onto new grass. When the tractor rolls off the rear pieces of PVC, I place them in the front. My yard is fairly smooth so it's no big deal to move them on a daily basis. The only difficulty is when the ground is extremely soft from rain or when the grass at the leading edge is too long.

The chickens do a good job of tearing up the sod but if rain is adequate, the droppings break up quickly and the grass starts to grow again almost immediately--to the point that you can't tell the tractor was there a week later. I have about a month's worth of spaces for each tractor so creating a "hot environment" isn't a problem EXCEPT when we don't get rain like this past July and August. There is no reason why it shouldn't work. Just be sure the ground is dry enough that the chickens aren't digging in wet soil.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2003 at 10:48PM
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you have to train the chickens. 'city-chickens' cannt do 'country job'

    Bookmark   November 19, 2003 at 1:41AM
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If grass and weeds are growing fast and tall, you don't need
any additional fertility to grow wildflowers which have very
low demands. I would just give it a quick shallow tilling
and scatter the wildflower seeds. Unless your really set on
eating fresh chicken.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2004 at 7:21PM
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hemnancy(z8 PNW)

Chickens can get eat weeds and grass down to bare earth, true, I have used them to clear ground. The trouble is that they don't get out all the roots. We once attempted to stop mowing and ended up with a horrible weed mess. Your wildflowers might grow well in summer but are annuals that would die in fall but the weeds will start growing in late winter and overtake all your land again. The chicken fertilizer will make them grow even faster. Mowing is a better way to keep it all in check unless you are prepared to put down weed barriers like heavy newspaper, cardboard, or black plastic mulch and then you can grow something more useful. I have grapes and blueberries in part of my drain field. I don't allow any nasty chemicals to be put in the septic tank. Ask your county extension agent about plants suitable for a drain field.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2004 at 4:49PM
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eata(15/16 Calif)

Does anyone know where I could find a good durable tractor with wheels.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2005 at 11:11PM
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you will have a difficult time clearing land with chickens it will take a dense population and some time. Have you considered sterilizing with clear plastic solarizing should work quicker and better than chickens and cost much less than building facilities or buying chickens another benefit is you can vacation or leave home a couple days without a caretaker when solarizing that will not be possible with animals. I do think ducks will kill the ground quicker by a smidge. neither process is likely to efectively kill out bermuda grass.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2005 at 12:25AM
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I have found a man in Kansas that makes and sells chicken tractors. My neighbor has one and really likes it. It is highly portable and very durable. Check it out:

Here is a link that might be useful: Chicken Tractors for Sale - Egg Cart'n

    Bookmark   September 8, 2006 at 7:56PM
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I own a chicken tractor. It is in my back yard, and on our Bermuda grass. The tractor is on wheels on one side and is lifted with a dolly on the other for moving. It moves pretty easily. I built it in May and i have 23 hens in it. they are on the grass in the day-time and go up into the roost at night to sleep. They also lay eggs in nests that I built. The hens don't lay to well in the winter but i still get anywhere from 10 to 18 eggs per day. I am sixteen and don't have a lot of time to care for them (although it takes less than 10 minutes a day to feed and water them) so i am looking to sell my tractor. I am selling it for the price of the materials that was used to build it. For more information you can e-mail me at

    Bookmark   January 16, 2008 at 7:08PM
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I just built my own chicken tractor,I lost half my chickens to raccoons, will definitely utilize the temporary fencing if I can find some more details on it. My friend ran a wire around his yard to keep his dog from going under the fence, it was just hooked up to a battery I wonder if I could do something like that around the small chicken coop near the house? anyone know?

Here is a link that might be useful: chicken tractor

    Bookmark   March 6, 2010 at 9:01PM
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huisjen(z5 ME)

I just welded up a 5' x 10' version of the cover shown in the thread I've linked to below. A friend of mine does traditional 12' x 12' chicken tractors, and they're really heavy. This design is much lighter and easier to move, but I don't see that it will catch wind and lift off.

My plan is to build about 10 of them and keep moving them around my garden to kill the witch grass. I'll have five birds per tunnel.


Here is a link that might be useful: Lightweight Portable Low Tunnel....Chicken Run

    Bookmark   March 19, 2010 at 9:31AM
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