Learn to make a chicken tractor using an ordinary truck frame.
February / March 2017
Article and photos by Jake Desjardin
When I had the urge to buy six chickens, I began looking into different coop designs. I also talked to a chicken-owning friend who told me he would make his coop mobile and smaller if he was to start over. Taking those things into consideration, I got to work making my own.
1. For the majority of my project, I was fortunate enough to use reclaimed material. A truck frame had been given to me a few years prior — a trailer with a pickup bed still attached. I began with the bare, stripped-down truck frame, removing the leaf springs and relocating the axle to the center of what would become the coop.
2. After moving the rear wheels, I made a swivel axle for the front. (We’d had the axle and wheels on hand for a while because we didn’t have the heart to scrap them.) To make the swivel, I welded a 1-1/2-inch-diameter pipe to a homemade support on the front, and then welded a piece of solid rod to the axle that happened to slide nicely into the pipe.
3. I painted the frame and attached a square pull bar to the front of the axle that I can hitch to a garden tractor or four-wheeler to move the coop around my property.
4. To make a stable base to build on, I laid a 2-by-6 along the inside of the trailer and traced around all the frame’s brackets. I cut along the trace lines with a jigsaw and used the cut board as a pattern for the next three boards. I bolted the 2-by-6s together to form two pairs and placed one on top of each frame rail. I made brackets out of metal plate and used them to bolt the 2-by-6s to the truck frame.
5. I was able to construct the coop frame using primarily reclaimed 2-by-4s.
6. I used a mix of textured and nontextured oriented strand board (OSB) to make up the exterior of the coop and the egg boxes. The windows are all 1/8-inch-thick Plexiglas, with three windows each on the right and left sides. Using standard door hinges, I hung doors on each side of the run and coop for easy access and cleaning. The door directly behind the nesting boxes opens downward so that it can act as a shelf when I’m collecting eggs.
7. I attached bent welding rods to light-duty chains to operate as hooks for holding up the doors.
8. For the center floor in the run and the coop, I used 1-inch galvanized chain-link fence with chicken wire laid on top. This allows all the droppings to fall through the floor.
9. I built the roost using 2-by-2s for rails and 1-1/4-inch dowels attached to the rails with nails. Above and below the dowels are 2-by-2-inch strips, also nailed to the rails, to minimize movement. I then wrapped the chicken run with chicken wire and added 1/4-inch hardware cloth to the bottom 12 inches to provide extra protection against predators.
10. I made the roof out of used OSB with a tarp laid on top and stapled along all the edges.
11. Two 2-by-4s with strips of leftover OSB screwed together make up the chicken plank.
At first, I used a tarp to catch all the chicken droppings so that I could put them directly into the compost. The tarp worked well for a while, but I later created three removable trays — two that can be pulled out from under the run and another that can be pulled out from under the coop.
I’ve been using this coop since 2015 and wouldn’t change much. The pullout trays were welcome additions that weren’t in the original plans. Admittedly, I made the roof overhang too short on the coop end above the large door, but I’ll be fixing that soon.
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