Do you have a chicken coop but no yard to put it in? Or maybe your yard is big enough, but you don’t want the mess and hassle of having chickens running around loose. Well, have I got the solution for you!
With a little bit of work, you can build a portable chicken run (or chicken tractor) that will keep your chickens safe and sound while giving them plenty of room to roam.
Best of all, when you’re done with it for the day, you can just wheel it away to hide it out of sight. So let’s get started!
Are chicken tractors worth it
I’ll go through the steps to construct the chicken run which will become the chicken tractor as well. This is designed to attach to the chicken coop and be detachable to be moved around the yard.
The idea here is that the chickens can safely scratch a new area of the yard each day or at least a couple days per week.
This helps to keep the chicken run area cleaner, helps to spread their manure around the yard, and fertilizes the grass.
What do you need to DIY a movable chicken pen
Here’s what you need to start building your detachable chicken coop:
- 4×8 wood frames
- 2×6 pressure-treated wood frames
- Hardware cloth
- 2.5″ duct screws
- Four 1”x4 wood sticks (for rafters)
- 2 sets of wheels
How do you build a portable chicken run
The chicken coop that I built earlier came along nicely! I’ve cleared an area of land and found that my slope will require some leveling, but other than that it’s all good.
The 4×8 detachable chicken run will stand between 5 and 6 feet tall and should easily slide up to attach squarely onto this foundation.
Step 1: Find a leveled ground
One of the methods I found to make leveling an area easier is to take a 4×8, and find the lowest corner of the area you want to level out.
And then just build up on the other end of the board until it’s level across the whole section. Then you can just measure how much you need to dig out for a level surface.
Step 2: Build the foundation
Once your area is level, build a 4’x8’ boxed foundation frame with 2x6s. I bought pressure-treated wood for these.
It will have to support the wall frames while in contact with the ground, so we need it to withstand those conditions. I will also be staining everything which will add more protection.
Step 3: Build the wall frames
Once you have built your basic foundation, you’re ready to build the wall frame on top. The chicken coop is sloped, so we are keeping the same design for the run.
The wall on one side will be 5’ tall and 6’ on the other, which will keep with the slope of the chicken coop roof, just slightly lower.
Step 4: Put up the roof
We’ll put a roof on that and then we’ll hardware cloth all the way around. We’ll also add a door and a nesting box inside so the chickens have a place to lay eggs when they are out and about.
To complete your wall framing, make sure to secure the studs to the bottom inside rim of your box. I used 2.5” duct screws all around.
I added extra 2x4s on the outside of the frame to ensure I have a flat surface on which to staple the hardware cloth.
I had the option to use chicken wire instead of hardware cloth, and it’s a lot cheaper, however, it’s much flimsier and never really lays flat, so I chose to spend a little more for aesthetics.
Step 5: Secure the roof with rafters
To build the rafters, I just cut them to fit inside the wall. I used a total of 4, two on each end, and two in the center. On top of the rafter, I added 4 1”x4s and just laid them flat, running across all of the rafters.
This helps support the roof in the event of snow, and it gives us something else to secure the roof too. I trimmed the excess length of the screws with a Sawzall.
The roof on the chicken run doesn’t have a lot of overhangs, maybe about 1”, which is sufficient enough to keep rain and snow out of the area.
Step 6: Make the door
To build the door I just made a rectangular frame and secured it straight. I drilled some holes on the door frame that are larger than my duct screws.
This will make a pocket screw so that the screws are fully embedded into the frame. These will keep them protected from the elements and basically invisible. I’m gonna do the same thing to the frame support boards.
I got some used hinges from an old building and I’ll be re-using the hardware. I also have a sign that says “Fresh Eggs” I’ll be putting up.
This is all from my wife’s grandfather’s old farm, so it’s a nice personal touch. I’ll be cleaning up the hardware, getting the rust off, and spray painting them black with Rustoleum.
That will prime and seal them up nicely, and make them look new again.
Step 7: Add the wheels
The final step after stapling the hardware cloth is to add the wheels and build a hitch for the tractor. This whole chicken run remains completely removable.
It’s just 4 bolts on each side, and then the hitch is held on with a pin. So it’s very simple to take off, and put back on.
The hardware cloth was a little time-consuming, but it was well worth it in the end.
The chickens love their new run, and we love being able to move it around the yard.
Plus, it looks a lot nicer than chicken wire! We may eventually add a second run so they have even more space to roam.
But for now, this works great, and it was a fun project to work on!