Self-reliance and sustainability in the 21st century.
We strive to be as self-reliant as possible, and with that comes raising your own food. We use lawn tractors for raising our meat birds and rabbits. Once chicks are big enough to be outdoors without a heat light, and rabbit kits have been weaned we move them to portable lawn tractors to cut down on our feed costs. We move out tractors twice daily to provide fresh ground. Grown rabbits can tolerate cold pretty well, but they do not do well in intense heat. The tractor also allows us to move them into the shade during hot summer days.
To build our tractors we chose 2x2s instead of 2x4s to make them easier to move around the yard. There is a handle on each side for easy dragging. The sides of the tractor are metal mesh, except the privacy portion that allows them to feel sheltered. The roof is a corrugated panel hinged on one side to allow us to access the rabbits or chickens easily. There is also a latch on the roof to keep predators out.
Six 2x2s 21-inches long make up the corners and divider area of the tractor. We set the divider 33 inches from the end. This area is designed for privacy, and a feeling of security for the animals to go into. It also gives protection from wind and blowing rain.
To provide extra strength, we also secured 2x4s to the corners and divider pieces, but this is an optional step. We screwed six 2x4s cut at the same 21-inch height to the outside 2×2 frame.
The top and bottom frame
• Four 8-foot 2x2s for the front and back of both the top and bottom
• Four 28-inch 2x2s for the sides of both front and back of the frame
We screwed each piece into place, attaching the frame to the 2×4 support pieces.
The siding is 1-inch metal hardware cloth that came on a 2 foot x 15 foot roll. We simply rolled it around, bending and stapling into place.
We also added metal handles to the top of the frame for easy lifting.
We used a few old cedar fencing slats that we had for the privacy section.
• Three 26-inch pieces for the side wall
• Six 33-inch for the front and back walls
All the top pieces had to be trimmed to fit in place. We screwed these to the outer frame.
• Two 8-foot 2x2s (front and back)
• Two 28-inch 2x2s (sides)
• Four 24-inch 2x2s (cross beams)
We screwed the outer frame together, and then screwed the cross beams into place, leaving equal distance between them.
We attached the back of the lid’s frame to the back of the tractor frame using 4-inch metal hinges. We also attached a metal latch to the front to prevent predators from entering the tractor.
The roofing is corrugated and cut into an 8-foot x 28-inch sheet and screwed into place.
The lawn tractors have been an affordable way to raise our own meat on our one-acre homestead. Our lawn has never been treated so it is full of healthy clover, and dandelions to supplement their diets. Rabbits and chickens also feed the ground that they graze on. We move the tractor in a pattern around our property, and have found this to be the most self-sustaining method of raising meat, and improving our soil.
Melissa Souza lives on a 1-acre, organically managed homestead property in rural Washington State where she raises backyard chickens and meat rabbits and grows plums, apples, pears, a variety of berries, and all the produce her family needs. She loves to inspire other families to save money, be together, and take steps toward self-reliance no matter where they live. Connect with her on Facebook.
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