Multipurpose Pig Tiller

Build a mobile pig tractor, and then swap parts in and out to fit your needs — it can become a chicken coop, garden low tunnel, and more.

A mobile pig tiller will allow you to work the ground without a tractor or other equipment.
Photo by Homer Walden
When we purchased 12 acres near York, Pennsylvania, the land came with a hoop house frame. I walked out to the area and decided it would be the perfect spot for an acre of veggies. The only problem was that we didn’t have a tractor to till it up. We’d spent our proceeds from our old house to buy the farm. Not having a mortgage was nice, but we had no means to till our garden beds.

The unexpected solution came in the form of four piglets. When they arrived, I put them into a chicken tractor that had a watering tub. The next day, I walked out to feed them, and I found they’d eaten the grass underneath the chicken tractor— sod, roots, and all — and tilled up that entire space in a perfect rectangle. I watched in complete fascination as they kept noodling around in the soil. I decided to drag the pen forward a bit, and those pigs got right to work in the new spot. I realized these pigs would till up my garden beds without using a single drop of fossil fuel. Plus, the only feed I needed to give them was vegetable waste from local grocery stores and restaurants. And just like that, I saved $30,000 by not needing a tractor.

After a couple of days, the pigs began dismantling the chicken tractor, so I built a “pig tiller.” I made several versions, ending up with a pressure-treated wood frame and a cage made of welded-wire paneling, plus a wheel system that allowed me to easily move the pen. Then, I realized I could move the wheels forward and add a watering tub to raise a dozen or so turkeys inside — a cheap and quick adjustment. I added poultry netting around the ends and sides to raise broilers in the pen, and then I added a couple of nest boxes and roosts to house layers. Finally, I threw a full tarp over the top, leaving the ends open for ventilation so I could add a heat lamp and use the pig tiller as a brooding pen. It also makes a handy dog kennel, and last year, I covered it with clear plastic for a quick and easy low tunnel.

The paneling is attached to the frame with brackets the author made from 3 -1/2-inch mending plates molded into shape with a vice and a steel block.

Photos by Homer Walden

Tools and Materials

These instructions produce a pen that's 48 inches wide on the inside and 12 feet long, with a 10-foot wire cage. You can easily adapt these plans for different lengths. When cutting the paneling, make sure you always leave a solid edge to work with.

  • 12-foot-long pressure-treated 2x6s (2), for frame sides
  • 48-inch-long pressure-treated 2x6s (2), for front and back of frame
  • 48-inch-long pressure-treated 2x10, for rear shelf
  • 2x6 joist hangers (4)
  • 5-by-16-foot welded-wire livestock panels (2)
  • 1/4-inch cable clamps
  • 3-1/2-inch mending plates
  • 6-inch PVC end caps (2)
  • 4 feet of 6-inch-wide PVC pipe
  • 1/2-inch 14 NPT pipe tap
  • Pig nipple waterer
  • 1/2-inch PVC slip and thread adapters (2)
  • 1-inch rubber plug
  • 4-inch bungee cords (2)
  • PVC primer and cement
  • 1-1/4-inch exterior decking screws
  • 3-inch exterior decking screws

Build It Yourself

Cut the front bottom ends off the two side frame 2x6s at an angle. Arrange the front, rear, and side frame boards to form a rectangle, with the front and rear boards on the inside and set in 12 inches from the ends. Connect the frame boards at the inside corners using 2x6 joist hangers and 11/4-inch screws. Attach the 2x10 shelf to the back of the frame using 3-inch screws.

Cut the two livestock panels to 10 feet long each. Then, cut each 10-foot panel horizontally into two pieces, one 32 inches wide for the top piece, and one 24 inches wide for the side piece. Clamp these pieces together to form the cage top and sides. From the remaining pieces of panel, cut two 4-by-4-foot panels for the cage ends. Attach the square ends as they are, or cut their tops to match the cage sides. (If you cut them, you'll need to weld 1/4-inch rod along the top edges of each panel to eliminate sharp ends.) Use steel cable clamps to attach the cage parts together.

8/19/2021 4:11:52 PM

This is awesome!

5/27/2021 4:21:19 PM

Very ingenious.



Fall 2021!

Put your DIY skills to the test throughout November. We’re mixing full meal recipes in jars, crafting with flowers, backyard composting, cultivating mushrooms, and more!


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