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:
Here is what the original design looked like before the remodel:
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:
- Chicken wire, I like the 48″ tall wire for fewer seems.
- 2″ PVC, 5x 10′ sticks.
- 2″ PVC corners, 4x
- 2″ PVC three ways, 2x
- 1/2″ PVC, 18x
- 1/2″ PVC elbows, 12x
- 1/2″ PVC three ways, 4x
- 1/2″ PVC crosses 7x
- Vinyl sheet 4×8, 4x
- Wire straps, 110x approx.
- Wire, re-bar wire is what I use
- #8 1/2″ self taping screws, 170x approx.
- Zip ties, 100x approx.
- Small hinges 1 1/2″ +/-, 4x
- Medium Hinges 3″ +/-, 7x
- Some rope for the front pull rope
- Carabiner clip, 7x
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.