Easy Chicken Tractor for Laying Hens!

chicken tractor for laying hens

I can’t tell you how hard it was to find a chicken tractor that was easy to build for my laying hens. Actually, it was too hard. An easy chicken tractor for laying hens eluded me for so long, I decided to design my own. I needed a chicken tractor solid enough to keep predators out during the daytime but still took care of my hens’ eggs. I looked at a lot of different designs and took what I needed considering my hens still spend their evenings in their stationary coop.

Let me know if you have a chicken tractor in the comments below! Do you use it exclusively, or do you keep your laying hens in a stationary coop at night?

“I just wanted an easy chicken tractor design so I could give my laying hens fresh grazing for better eggs.”


chicken tractor for laying hens

A simple chicken tractor design for laying hens

Why Should I Use a Chicken Tractor for Laying Hens?

You normally see chicken tractors associated with meat chickens. You butcher meat chickens just as they reach full size but before they lay eggs, so this arrangement makes sense. Why should you consider a chicken tractor for your laying ladies though?

  • Availability of fresh grass and bugs
  • Protection from predators
  • Concentration of the hens’ tilling and fertilizing power
  • NEW BULLET: Less clean up in the main coop!


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Fresh Grazing and Predator Protection

I know you love the dark yellow and orange color backyard chicken eggs can be. What don’t you love? The predators that run off with your hens when you let them free range. Free-ranging my hens during my workday is out of the question since our two acres isn’t fenced. Their majesties REALLY love to investigate our neighbor’s yard. A chicken tractor for my laying hens seemed like the perfect way to give them fresh grass and bugs without the same predator and neighbor risks.

Put Your Laying Hens to Work in Your Garden!

My 2018 homestead plan included building a chicken tractor, although I managed to do it a month early! Despite being in my third trimester, I still wanted to get started on my garden. I have been planning this garden layout since we moved in!

My hens will be the tilling, fertilizing, and weeding force in my garden! Step one: clear out the grass as best as possible, so I have started placing the tractor over the area where my fenced-in garden will go. Check out the details of my long-term garden plan in my previous post!

You should let your hens graze in your garden before you plant seedlings and when it is time to let the garden rest for the year. Hens will go through and scratch up weed seeds and grubs while tilling in their own manure. Planting a good cover crop will further enrich your soil, helping to prepare it for the next growing season!

chicken tractor killing grass

The tractor was only here for one day, and look at the progress!

NEW: You Don’t Have to Clean the Primary Coop as Often!

So in my couple of weeks of using my new daytime chicken tractor for my lovely laying hens, I realized I toss the litter in the stationary chicken run less often! I mean, WAY less often! A benefit that definitely surprised me! This ties into why we toss the run litter in the first place though. If you never toss the litter and occasionally replace it, the chicken will walk all over their own waste. With a chicken tractor, they get moved to fresh space every day or so, which makes this issue moot. By using a chicken tractor, you keep your hens in an all-around healthier living environment!

How Much Square Footage Do I Need Per Laying Hen?

According to Chelsea Green Publishing, a sustainable living blog, hens need about 4 square feet in a chicken tractor. I built my tractor with 40 sq ft of space inside, but looking at my six ladies in it, I don’t know if I would go higher than 8 hens. Claborn Farms does point out that it really depends on flock dynamic, and that overcrowding is a serious cause of stress for hens.

Laying hens in chicken tractor

My ladies seem to like their chicken tractor! I would probably only put in 8 hens at most. 40 sq ft chicken tractor.

You can see that I have placed the chicken feeder and waterer on the ground, but this [amazon_textlink asin=’B001CS2RTQ’ text=’hanging chicken feeder’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’twoacresonadr-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’81033a90-0f21-11e8-acac-3d506b06740a’] and [amazon_textlink asin=’B016AO5GAI’ text=’hanging waterer’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’twoacresonadr-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’fb31756c-0f21-11e8-bc9c-87a908cbcc1d’] [<—affiliate links!] are very popular. They would help maximize space further, and I love the nipple waterer, since it would keep the water clean! I also made sure to place the nesting boxes up high enough that it didn’t take away from the available grazing space.

Our flock size will increase to 12 once we expand our current coop, so it looks like I will have to build another tractor in order to keep all of them on fresh pasture each day. Thankfully, this tractor was easy to build, and I’m looking forward to incorporating improvements into version two!

Ruthie, Why Didn’t You Like the Other Designs?

You know, it isn’t that I didn’t like them. Many of them were more complicated than I could confidently build. Most of the tractors for laying hens are actually mobile coops, and I didn’t want one of those. Not to mention, a mobile coop for 12 laying hens would be larger than I could move.

Meat chicken tractors have the simplest designs, and I believed that because I house the ladies in the stationary coop at night, I could do away with some of the more complicated aspects of the mobile coop designs I filtered through. I just wanted an easy chicken tractor design so I could give my laying hens fresh grazing for better eggs.

What About the Design?!?


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chicken tractor for laying hens

Really proud to get this project done for the hens and the garden!

Do you use a chicken tractor for your laying hens? Have you seen a difference in egg quality and happiness in your hens? If you don’t, do you want to? Comment below!

6 thoughts on “Easy Chicken Tractor for Laying Hens!

  • by willowcreekfarm

    Unfortunately, with the type of predators we deal with here up in the Rockies, specifically black bears, a chicken tractor isn’t an option for us, especially overnight. In addition, our little farm is on a mountainside, with nary a speck of flat ground except where we have put in a lot of work to terrace – making a chicken tractor even more troublesome. But I always liked the idea of them.
    What we have found to be the answer for us is to free-range in the fenced barnyard where there is plenty of manure from the larger animals and our compost pile – with an LGD to guard them. We are contemplating using chicken net electric fence potentially in the future and setting up little grazing areas on the property where we can put them and the dog for the day. But the hassle of moving them all back and forth morning and evening because of the predators seems like it isn’t worth it and even with the LGD we never leave any livestock outdoors at night. The strength of electricity we would have to run through the wires to keep the bears away at night would kill the chickens and hurt the dog because the local bears don’t care much about a little zap here or there if it means dinner. So for our set-up, it is not practical.
    But I think it is a great idea for a lot of people and it is definitely great for your garden area!

    • by annaruthus@gmail.com This is post author

      Oh my goodness! Here in our patch of semi-rural Maryland, bears are not a thing (that I have heard). Our biggest concerns are foxes, dogs, and coyotes. Our land is pretty flat.
      I can definitely see why a tractor wouldn’t work for your land!
      I want to get a dog next year, but we haven’t settled on a breed just yet!

      • by willowcreekfarm

        We have found for our small acreage and the predators we deal with Anatolian Shepherds work best. But I think it also really depends on what breeder you get them from. We really needed something that wouldn’t be destructive or bark constantly being kept in a smaller space. Our sweet girl, Anya, has been amazing. She is still a “puppy” (over 100lbs!) and is still being trained to not accidentally kill the chickens by playing with them. But I believe when she matures she will do fine.

        • by annaruthus@gmail.com This is post author

          We’re getting goats this year too, so we will certainly have to make a decision soon. Constant barking would definitely be a no-no!

  • by McKenna

    I love this idea! I’ve wanted a chicken tractor for a long time, and this looks like an easy design. It’s amazing the progress they can make on a patch of grass over just one day.

    • by annaruthus@gmail.com This is post author

      That was my goal! A nice easy design that I could mostly do on my own. I’m also super impressed with their progress. Next time I put them in the same spots, I’m going to turn in some compost first!

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