Let me be the first to say that this is not my design. No, it is a mishmash of lots of ideas I have stolen mostly from the web. I should also here mention that I have become amazingly tight-fisted in my dotage and really wanted to see if I could build a chicken tractor under $100. And I did.
Today is cold and rainy. Normally, the tarp is not covering it and there’d never be a light in there…and it would never be near the buildings
My original design was a lot more elaborate. I had envisioned hoops of cattle panels (which are actually hot-dipped concrete reinforcing: they’re flat grids of small steel rods that’ve been welded into panels 4′x16′ long), arched tall enough that I could walk in there. That idea went away when I couldn’t get them from the store to the farm. So I started scanning the nearest big-box home impoverishment store and decided on PVC conduit, sunlight-grade, as the hoop material. The base is 2x4s, untreated (untreated are less prone to warping IMHO) and the door side is 3/8″ plywood. The ridge beam is another 2×4. So it’s 6′x12′ long, the 1/2″ PVC conduit are 10′ long; it stands 42″ tall. I got a tarp large enough to cover three sides (12′x16′).
It is fairly lightweight. I can move it easily without wheels, though I plan on snapping a PVC pipe, cut lengthwise, to the back base to act like a sled runner. I worry about it tipping over when the wind whips through, especially with the tarp attached, so I have placed some conduit clamps on the outside of the base to guide step-in tent stakes into the ground.
Honestly, I wanted to create something more elaborate for the chickens themselves. I am glad I had a bit of time to get to know them before I undertook this endeavor. The meat birds really do not want to roost; they want to be on the ground huddled in a chickpile. This design, then, contains a fair amount of ground space for them to do what they do: sleep, eat, and poop, with the occasional wing-flapping session and (roosters only) chest-bumping jousting with the other roosters in there. That’s all they ask. No roosts, no great area to run around. No grass, either, from what I can tell.
This design, frankly, is easily adapted to make many things: larger stationary coops, for example; chicken runs, and…greenhouses! Danielle and her family used basically this same design, minus the ridge beam, add 30″ pieces of rebar into the ground to anchor the PVC, and some greenhouse plastic. 6′x12′ is probably large enough for more than the 23 birds who today inhabit mine; it feels roomy enough to me, though. It was cheap enough I could build another one easily, even taller, for turkeys or ducks or geese.
Still cute, at least to me