Redesigned Original PVC Chicken Tractor

Posted on: May 21st, 2013 by
35

We have completed the remodel of the original PVC chicken tractor. As I have stated in an earlier post we are using it for chicks and rabbits, and it has been remodeled with that in mind. Here is the completed remodel minus the hanging water bucket:

Remodeled Original Tractor

Remodeled Original PVC Chicken Tractor

Remodeled Original PVC Chicken Tractor

Remodeled Original PVC Chicken Tractor

Remodeled Original Chicken Tractor

Remodeled Original Chicken Tractor

Here is what the original design looked like before the remodel:

Original PVC chicken tractor

Original Chicken Tractor

Original Chicken Tractor

 

For a first attempt at a chicken tractor this one worked well. We used it for years and it made the move with us to the new property. Through experience we knew some improvements to add.

The original PVC chicken tractor is much easier to build than the ultimate PVC chicken tractor. It doesn’t have as many bells and whistles but it has the advantages of being easier to build, fewer materials (Less expensive), and it is also a lot lighter without the big coop on the back.

I will be building another of the original style coops this fall for raising chicks in through the winter. I am considering raising chicks through the winter and selling them as ready laying hens the next spring. I figure that a good laying hen will bring $7-$8 and I can hatch them out for pennies. I will actually use my Killawatt and figure out the actual cost for hatching an incubator full of eggs. I will then have to figure what it would cost to feed them.

The upgrades to the original PVC chicken tractor include a wire floor in the coop for the rabbits, fenced feed bowl shelves, new back door design, lighter design with no plywood, and a modification to the frame so that I can hang an auto chicken watering bucket in the run.

We got a bad batch of chicken wire with some defects. We bought it years back so we couldn’t return it. We didn’t notice the defect until we had the wire already attached on one end, we also didn’t have any other wire so we went ahead and used it. The defect in the wire made it where this wire didn’t lay as nice as I would have liked, but it didn’t hurt functionality.

This cage is very easy to build and is not very expensive for its size. Here are the materials you would need to build this cage:

  1. Chicken wire, I like the 48″ tall wire for fewer seems.
  2. 2″ PVC, 5x 10′ sticks.
  3. 2″ PVC corners, 4x
  4. 2″ PVC three ways, 2x
  5. 1/2″ PVC, 18x
  6. 1/2″ PVC elbows, 12x
  7. 1/2″ PVC three ways, 4x
  8. 1/2″ PVC crosses 7x
  9. Vinyl sheet 4×8, 4x
  10. Wire straps, 110x approx.
  11. Wire, re-bar wire is what I use
  12. #8 1/2″ self taping screws, 170x approx.
  13. Zip ties, 100x approx.
  14. Small hinges 1 1/2″ +/-, 4x
  15. Medium Hinges 3″ +/-, 7x
  16. Some rope for the front pull rope
  17. Carabiner clip, 7x
  18. Metal eyes, 12x

 

Building it is pretty easy and a buddy will make it go much faster especially when bowing the half inch PVC to make the hoops. I use a chop saw to cut the PVC, but a hand saw works fine as well. You will need a drill and a 7/8 paddle bit to drill the holes into the 2″ PVC to accept the 1/2″ hoops. You will also need a bit to drive the self tapping screws.

If you want to build the support frame for the hanging water bucket you will need another stick of 2″ PVC, two elbows and two three ways. I bent a piece of re bar for the water bucket hanger and drilled a hole into the frame to stick the re-bar in.

Inside Coop

Inside Coop

The run is 10′ long, I cut the 2″ PVC about 3′ 1″ long for the coop. When elbows are added the coop is a little over 3′ long letting the 4′ wide sheet of vinyl have an overhang on each end.

Back Original Tractor

The 1/2″ PVC is used for the doors and the hoops. Cut the sticks in half for the hoops. I put crosses at the top of each hoop to run a backbone down the top of the hoops. This makes everything stronger and keeps the hoops the correct distance apart. I have also seen others wire a board or pipe to the top of the hoops. The distance between hoops will depend on what wire you are using. I use 48″ wire, so in 46″ I have three hoops allowing some overlap of the chicken wire.

You want some overlap of the chicken wire between sections. I use hog rings to fasten two sections of wire together at the seem. Wire would also work. At the bottom I use the wire holders and the self taping screws to attach the chicken wire to the 2″ PVC frame.

Bottom of Chicken Wire Attached to Pipe

Bottom of Chicken Wire Attached to Pipe

We weave the wires together to attach the chicken wire on the front of the coop to the wire going over the top. When done it is very strong and gives a nice seamless look.

Front of Original Tractor

The feed doors are made by putting a piece of PVC between two hoops for the top of the door frame and then making a door of pvc to cover with chicken wire. We use eyes and carabiner clips to keep these feed doors closed. The shelf is made like the door with a frame of PVC and chicken wire covering it. The shelf is connected to the main frame on one edge, the other inner edge has pipe running up from it to connect to the hoops to suspend the shelf. A hole is drilled to slide wire through the end and through the hoop to hold the shelf up. We then wrap wire over the shelf area to limit access.

Food Bowl Shelf

Food Bowl Shelf

 

On all openings for doors we make a triangle out of the vinyl sheet scraps you will have to go across the corner. This will keep the door from swinging into the coop and also makes everything stronger.

Door Corner

Door Corner

For the doorway to the coop we made a frame of 1/2″ PVC for added strength. The first coop had no frame for this opening and the vinyl ripped from the door opening.

Coop Doorway on the Inside

Coop Doorway on the Inside

The back has two doors made from PVC frames with vinyl covering them. The vinyl extends past the edge of the frame and overlaps. We then drilled holes on these flaps to have eyes stick through to keep the door closed.

You can build one of these tractors in a day. They are good and inexpensive. I will be posting through the summer when I find time, but as planting season is here I am very busy.

 


35 Responses to Redesigned Original PVC Chicken Tractor

  1. Jim B had this to say about that:

    Hello,
    Nice design.
    How do you attach the half inch pvc to the two inch pvc? Also, How do you prevent wind damage?
    Thanks,
    Jim

    • JL had this to say about that:

      I drill holes in the 2″ pipe and when the chicken wire is screwed down it keeps the 1/2″ pipes from coming out. Never had a problem with wind, although I get a lot of questions about that.

  2. JL had this to say about that:

    I drill a hole in the 2″ PVC to stick the hoops into. The chicken wire is screwed down and prevents the hoops from coming out.

    It gets pretty windy here in spring and late fall and I have never had any wind damage. It isn’t light enough to be blown away, the wind goes through the wire.

  3. Tim O had this to say about that:

    I’ve just been working on building a PVC mobile tractor and this site has been really helpful. Can you give a little more detail on what the inside of the curved redesigned coop looks like? Thanks.
    Tim

  4. Dwight W had this to say about that:

    Want to 2nd Tim O’s comment about wanting more info about the the interior coop redesigned. Looks like you reinforced the end walls and ceiling with 2″ PVC – is this needed for the additional weight of the vinyl sheets?
    How did you reinforce the back wall with the access doors?
    Do you have any issues with drooping of the wire mesh bottom or it catching when moving the tractor?
    Are there any additional lessons learned since this last remodel?

    • JL had this to say about that:

      I have an arch of 2″ PVC inside the coop for one reason, to hang the automatic waterer. I drilled a hole in the front of the arch and ran a length of rebar through the top tube of the arch.

      The vinyl sheets are light, and I have recently learned they are actually made of Poly. The first ones I bought didn’t state what material they were and I guessed wrong.

      The back doors have a frame of 1/2″ pvc and the poly is screwed to that. The wire has not sagged much, and has not caught on anything yet, it is 2″+ off the ground being screwed to the top of the 2″ main frame. It also has a cross brace.

      One improvement I will be adding to all future tractors is a piece of 1/2″ PVC which will be placed going across the width of the tractor in front of the 2″ cross frame pipes of the coop. I have added this to the Ultimate, and the purpose of the pipe is to push the chickens ahead when moving the coop and keep them from getting their feet caught under the frame while moving the tractor.

      Another feature I will be testing is dual lawn mower wheels. The single wheels of the tractors sink in my soft ground.

  5. Ron had this to say about that:

    Do you have nesting boxes in the interior?

  6. Marie had this to say about that:

    Hi — Do you have to use pvc cement for anything? Are the 1/2″ sticks 10′?

    • JL had this to say about that:

      Yes I use cement on every joint where it can be used. The 1/2″ sticks are 10′ long.

  7. Don Jones had this to say about that:

    I understand for the arches that you cut 1/2″ 10 foot pipe in half for a length of 5 foot. How tall is the run? Have you considered cutting the pipes a longer length, thereby having a run that an average person could stand up in. Thanks!

  8. Sharon had this to say about that:

    Hi, thanks for this page. I have a question. My chicken tractor will not have a coop but will need to butt up to the coop to transfer the chickens to the tractor for the day. I’m wondering if anyone has devised a way to make a pvc door that slides up instead of hinges so that the chickens can go from the coop to the tractor without risk of escaping while I secure the door? Thanks.

    • JL had this to say about that:

      It sounds like it wouldn’t take to much work to get something like that setup. When we first built the original pvc chicken tractor we were going to have an additional 5×10′ open run that was seperate and could butt up to the front of the chicken tractor. Our idea was for the doors to be the same size on the tractor and run. The doors on the original pvc chicken tractor were originally hinged on the top and could swing back and up to be out of the way. We scrapped that plan after letting our chickens go free range instead.

      If it were me I would build a channel out of wood on the front of each and have the door drop in this channnel. Good luck on your project.

  9. Brad had this to say about that:

    7/8 makes a very big hole. Did you mean 5/8?

    • JL had this to say about that:

      No, 7/8 is what you need. You may be able to go slightly smaller but 5/8″ doesn’t make a hole big enough to have a piece of 1/2″ pvc go through. The 1/2″ dimension of the PVC refers to inside diameter, not outside.

      • Brad had this to say about that:

        In our case, 7/8 was too big of a hole. We swapped out for 5/8 and made perfect sized holes, the exact snugness. We then sealed them with caulk for added strength and to keep the rain out.

        Thanks for putting your plans and pictures online. Happy chickens, happy eggs!

  10. Laura had this to say about that:

    Great design! Where did you get the vinyl sheets at?

    • JL had this to say about that:

      You can get them at Some Lowes and Menards stores, but not every store has them in stock. I was also mistaken the sheets are actually a Poly material.

  11. Dee had this to say about that:

    This is awesome! I need to get my meat chicks out of the brooder, and this is something I can (mostly) build without my husband’s help! Thanks so much!

  12. laurie had this to say about that:

    How sturdy is the PVC system from predators such as coyotes and raccoons? And are you only using chicken wire or are you using hardware clothe?

    • JL had this to say about that:

      I use chicken wire, and we depend on good guard dogs to protect our flock. We have had a few attacks on our tractors, with one large dog making it through. Raccoon’s and opossums cannot make it through. We have a lot of Coyotes, but they don’t come up to the barnyard. Dogs are our biggest threat, and determined ones can eventually make it through with some work.

  13. Tina had this to say about that:

    After its all said and done, about how much did this run you?

    • JL had this to say about that:

      I spent less than $200 on building the original PVC chicken tractor. The remodel cost a lot less. It may cost a little more now as I originally built it a decade ago.

  14. Angelia had this to say about that:

    I want one with a laying box with a lid that I can lift and access from the outside, also a roosting loft.

    • JL had this to say about that:

      You might want to look at the Ultimate, that is the style with the nest box doors and roosting loft.

  15. Lynne had this to say about that:

    Adout how expenive do you think this would be? See,we are really short on money at the moment and i would like to know the rough cost of this.
    thank you

    • JL had this to say about that:

      That question isn’t easy to answer. You might consider building a smaller tractor if finances are tight. I am building a revised Original chicken tractor for under $200, but in other areas materials are often more expensive or don’t have access to inexpensive building materials.

      -Joseph

  16. Mary had this to say about that:

    Hi, i love this tractor! I think I’ve collected most of the supplies – but I’ve never built anything before. Do you have any pics if the inside of the coop area? I need it light enough for me to move around ( Im a little old lady). Also this would house 6 5month old chicks for 3 months of the year. Could I modify inside to add perches? Any help is much appreciated. I realize your post is 2 years old, & I hope you are still following the comments. Ill send pics if & when its completed. Thanks so much,
    Mary Sue

    • JL had this to say about that:

      I encourage everyone to modify to suite there needs, and my new chicken tractors do have perches built into them. Sorry I don’t have any pictures handy from the inside that are not already posted. These tractors are very light for there size, and can be built smaller if needed.

  17. Moriah had this to say about that:

    What size is this tractor and the modified one? Looking to build something similar.
    How do you move it? do you use wheels or just drag it?

    • JL had this to say about that:

      My large tractors are all 5’x14′. I have wheels on the back of some, others I just drag. I would recommend adding wheels, it makes it just that much easier to move around.

  18. Rainy Grant had this to say about that:

    How heavy is this? I live basically in a field and am worried about it blowing away. My dad had an idea of basically filling the bottom PVC with water (after freeze danger is over. Some fittings would have to be changed. He has that in mind though.

    • JL had this to say about that:

      People often think these will blow over. More than ten years since I built the original I have yet to have any pvc chicken tractor blow over. I have however had a mobile home blown off its foundation, A boat full of water picked up flipped over and thrown out in the field and a camper shell picked up and thrown into the pond during a straight line microburst. The pvc chicken tractors are aerodynamic, and not so light they blow over, at least the ones I have built. Maybe if there was more roofing they might catch wind, or some other different design. I have no idea how much they weigh, I can drag them but probably could not pickup the large ones.