Chicken Palace

What once was a vintage hay trailer has been turned into a mobile chicken tractor for our 150 Golden Sex Link laying hens. We liked the simplicity of our old chicken tractors ( City Chicken, Country Chicken) but we quickly learned that they didn’t move easily over our rolling and rocky pastures. We wanted more eggs to sell to our community, so we were going to need a larger chicken tractor. Why do we bother moving the chickens around so often? Access to fresh grass and bugs makes deliciously rich deep orange yolks, and a more nutrient dense food. I would also like to think it makes for happier chickens and ultimately a more sustainable farm not being as dependent on feed. So the better question is why don’t all chickens have access to fresh grass and bugs?

Photo Feb 18, 4 39 34 PM

The first day of work Farmer Matt had some help from a couple of our favorite farm boys, but he was quickly abandoned for a  more interesting pasttime on the farm like making and jumping in mud puddles. Using the Hay Trailer as a foundation will really make a huge difference in where we can bring the tractor but also how much labor we will have to put into constantly moving them around to new pastures. The current chicken tractor has to be moved slowly and carefully in order to not crush any chickens and if you hit a patch of rocks everything has to stop in order to lift the tractor over the rocks or to physically remove the rocks in some cases.

Photo Feb 18, 4 45 18 PM

Photo Feb 24, 5 09 46 PM

Another thing we wanted to improve upon for ease of use were nesting boxes that you could access them from outside the chicken tractor. This will make collecting eggs that much easier, and when you are collecting over a 100 eggs a day every little bit counts.

Photo Mar 02, 11 32 25 AM

Photo Mar 02, 3 52 38 PM

One thing that Farmer Matt added (that I love) is folding roosting racks that hook onto the ceiling. This is especially handy when you are ready to clean the chicken tractor. One of the designs we looked at had an open floor so that the chicken manure would go directly onto the ground but it wouldn’t work with the hay trailer we had found and we were worried about predators having easy access at night.

Photo Mar 08, 12 19 39 PM

Photo Mar 08, 12 20 34 PM

Photo Mar 10, 4 24 47 PM

The last couple of details were two sets of doors, one for the chickens and one for humans. Of course we provided a nice little removable ramp for the chickens to have access to all the green grass and bugs. We  close the chicken door at night in order to keep them in the tractor for moving the next morning. We’re pretty happy with the results, so are these two little future farmers who did quality control inspections on every inch of the tractor. We are going to be moving the chicks into their new home very soon because they are quickly out growing their enclosure in the hoop house. We need to take advantage of the warm temps in the hoop house and get some vegetable starts going pronto!

Photo Mar 11, 5 30 47 PM


8 thoughts on “Chicken Palace

  1. Awesome! Is it your own design? I love that you went with Golden Sex Links – we have one (Tillie) and she has so much personality! Can’t wait to see how your chicks take to their new home!

    • I really like the Sex Links too. Originally, we were not going to raise them here thinking we wanted to go for the Animal Welfare Approved endorsement, but decided against it simply over the Sex Link issue. Animal Welfare doesn’t like the Sex Links because they lay 300 plus eggs a year and consider it inhuman. However, standard breeds lay 200 – 250 eggs a year and there is nothing natural about that. So when it comes down to it, I have found the Sex Links to be hearty, intelligent and to live longer than other breeds like Rhode Island Reds and Barred Rocks. In the three years since I started raising the Sex Links, I’ve only lost one to old age while I’ve lost several other breeds to predators and premature death. I’ve also watched them not be able to find their way back to the coop at night, or get around a fence, or over a fence. I’ve never had these problems with the Sex Links. They even come when called!

      • Farmer Matt did design it after we looked at several photos of other ones. We found one that had the nesting box access from the outside and copied that idea but the folding roosting racks and folding ramp were all his idea and we think they turned out pretty great.

  2. I’m beaming — what a fun read and run through on one impressive chicken palace indeed! Makes me regret giving an old hay wagon away. Well, now I have something to look for again and a project to add to the list. Nice work!

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