Instructables
Learn how to use old, discarded (free!) pallets to build a chicken tractor, reducing your carbon footprint and making your chickens happy!

Here's the ~9-minute video version:


What Is A Chicken Tractor?
A chicken tractor is a movable chicken cage, allowing you to keep your chickens under control while still moving them around the yard.

Why Would I Want One?
-Have your chickens till and weed your yard
-Buy less food for your chickens
-Eliminate your need for petroleum-baed fertilizers
-and, last but not least: make your chickens happy!

WARNING: please see the warning below about my use of tools in the video. This is NOT meant to encourage you to use tools beyond your skill level, and I'm not going to try and defend the safety practices (or lack thereof) in the video. Be careful, take responsibility for what you do, and don't chop your fingers off:)

Where Can I Learn More?
Here are 3 resources you may find helpful if you choose to dive into the pecking world of chicken tractor design:
-General overview of raising chickens, including square feet per bird
-Pictures of much-groovier-looking tractors
-A $690+ but stylish commercial alternative
 
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Step 1: Gather Your Materials

You'll need the following supplies:
-~4 wooden pallets, or something else to create the 'skeleton' of your structure. These are in the garbage outside large grocery and department stores pretty much anywhere. You want the oldest, ugliest ones you can find that are still more or less intact. I used pallets that were about 45"x35", but size is flexible. It'll make your project easier to have 4 pallets of the same size (the 5th is just torn apart for scrap wood).
-Chicken wire, or something else to keep your chickens in and cats out. This is available at any home improvement store.
-Something to shade your chickens from the rain. I used a piece of an old plastic tarp that I had laying around my yard.
-Something to secure it all together. I used staples, both 1.25" with a compressed air staple gun and .25" with a hand-powered gun.

And I used the following tools:
-Saw-zall (my favorite tool of decontruction:))
-Table saw (both this and saw-zall can be replaced by any decent hand saw + some extra patience)
-Hammer and crow bar (to separate the 5th pallet into usable scraps of wood)
-Utility blade (to cut the tarp; scissors would also do the trick)
-Hand-powered staple gun (used to secure the tarp, as the air-powered staple gun goes right through the plastic)
-Air compressor with staple gun and nail gun (overkill: a hammer with a coupla nail and some 1" staples would definitely work)

Of course, you can improvise widely on this. Just try to avoid buying (and polluting via the manufacture of) something if you can find a free, reused version (like the pallets).
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zz383mero8 months ago

You sir do not need to be near power tools, but I like your idea!

My hat's off to you. Working with pallets is a pain in the neck. Advice to anyone who goes this route that pallets take time to take apart if you want the end product to look nice. Also gather more of them than you think you will need. Even for chicken tractors.
cdog5571 year ago
I like it but I like a chicken tractor
pheenix422 years ago
*chuckles* Every time I hear the term, I think of a rooster on the seat of an old Massey-Ferguson!
Great video, man. I also use old pallets for many of my building projects. I am wanting to build a chicken tractor to allow my bird to ( free range ), while still remaining safe from predators. I have one concern though. I would love to see more videos from ya in the future, so lets get rid of that table saw.. Very scary! Thanks for the info.....
ledzep5676 years ago
we made one of those. except its a triangular rectangle(whatever the heck its called, i failed geometry the first time so give me a break) its about 2 feet tall, 3 feet wide and 6 feet long. we have bantam chickens, thats why its smaller. but we have wheels on it and we just slide it around the yard.
it called a rectangular primid
Actually it's called a "triangular prism" -- rectangle bottom and sides, triangle front and back.

http://math.about.com/od/formulas/ss/surfaceareavol_6.htm

A rectangular pyramid looks like the Egyptian kind, but with a rectangle on the bottom instead of a square. (Those are kinda hard to build out of wood -- so many non-right angles! But the triangular prism is fairly easy -- lay two rectangles together, voila! This is how I made a couple greenhouses out of glass doors -- hmm, maybe I should make an Instructable about it!)

Kiki -- a Montessori child, where geometry begins at 2.5yo :) (We thought the geometric shapes were fun to play with, but they were sneaking learning into all we did! :) )
NinaPWA kikiorg3 years ago
Kiki, thanks for the link about rectangular prisms...and the idea about the greenhouses made out of glass doors. Would you mind elaborating on that? Or make an ible, please?

thanks, Nina
gcoleman3 years ago
Wonderful idea and great use of discarded materials, but using a table saw to cut pallets is wrong on so many levels! As an avid woodworker, I can't imagine a more dangerous stunt - please don't ANYONE (professional or not) try this at home! Not only do you risk permanent physical damage up to and including death - you also risk damaging a multi-hundred dollar machine building a $20 tractor. Go for the handsaw or sawz-all. They work great and are much safer! The two prime directives in using a table saw are BE SAFE and NEVER cut anything that might have metal buried in it (and all pallets do!). My philosophy is that DIY is great for everything except suicide! :) Thanks for the idea, though, my son and I are talking about options for a chicken tractor - this one is definitely in the running! Gary
cool
rrcole4 years ago
This is perfect! I built a chicken coop for my wife and now I was looking for plans for a chicken tractor. We even have old pallets laying around. Thanks for sharing.
That video was terrifying.
Here's some advice just to save you time and supplies: anything you can do with 5 nails, you can do with 2. they really don't provide much structural support.
Just...be careful next time.
fishhead4556 years ago
FLATULATIONS--Hey Guys, I counted--he still has all of his fingers, a pleasant personality and this instructible will hopefully make some happy chickens. My yard birds: 15 chickens, guineas, and five Peafowl all roam the many-acre yard. The chickens return to their night-time cage at sunset, line up on their roosts and wait for me to close the door. I live in the woods and anything that sleeps out at night will be supper for the predators: Raccoons, foxes, possums. The peafowl sleep way up in the tops of the tall pines and can take care of themselves. Liseman has done a service to those with limited space for their yard birds. And Norml has given me some good ideas for predator control. (Now where did I put my M-6 potato launcher)? Oh, for the dog that kills chickens try this south Florida solution: Wire the dead chicken around the dog's neck. Let it stay there until it rots off, about a month. The dog will be so miserable it will let the yard birds peck a flea from between it eyes an not even growl...forever. Love these "Ibles."
One tip I just read was to paint a stripe of Syrup of Ipecac down the backs of your free range birds.  One mouthful and the critters will drop the bird!  BARRRRRFFFF!
Good for training chase happy dogs too!
Nettiemac6 years ago
Thank you, thank you, thank you for a wonderful instructable on how to do this. I have some chickens, and for now I am keeping them in my glass house (when they are not free ranging during the day), but come summer that won't do. Now to figure out how to build a coop for them!
maven Nettiemac4 years ago
I'd use a skill saw rather than a table saw...
benthekahn6 years ago
I DID IT! Well actually I did it a while ago. It has a nice door and two wheels for rolling it around. Unfortunately, we gave away our chickens because they weren't laying any eggs. Well heres the a picture of my pallet chicken tractor...
DSC01013.JPG
Chickens stop laying after two years usually. You rebuild your brood by letting some of the eggs hatch if they got fertilized. Good luck with future birds.
maven Judith7564 years ago
My chickens are going on 5yrs and still averaging an egg every to every other day.  Breed has a lot to do with it.  Go for Buckeyes or Cochines.  I also have Jersey Giants, but they need to be close to a year old before they'll start to lay.  Even my few Dark Cornish meat hens are still laying after 5 years.
Expect a no or few egg stretch during the winter while they molt (which they start to do around 2.  They'll recover and start laying again.
joshuaduck4 years ago
Dude Safety!!! lol hey quick question how can i get thos pallets i no there in regular stores but how do i ask for them?
Good motives, but poor execution. 1) Your tractor lacks guarded corners. Chickens are stupid birds, and run into the corners instead of the middle for safety, becoming easy prey for crafty mammals. Next time build a fully-enclosed side, or better, a nesting box. 2) Chickens like to roost high above the ground. Add perches. 3) Your tilted, thumping video is not watchable. Fair first try, but you can do better.
Thank you for sharing your work. Just out of curiosity, how many fingers and eyes do you have left??? As a former safety specialist for an airline, your video scared the heck out of me a few times! Stay safe, and keep those chickens happy!
Good job on video and project. You can set the depth of the saw blades on table saws and skill saws, (rotary hand saws) to be just a wee bit deeper than what you are cutting. It's good to do this because the angle of attack for cutting is better annnd there is less KICK BACK. You are a great instructor, Explaining some of the principles of the tools for safety would be great, even the pros could benefit from that.
beegirl5 years ago
This is going to be a wonderful addition to the pallet coop I'm building! Thanks!
Crusty_075 years ago
Dude, you and power tools should not mix. WTF would you try to cut pallets on a table saw and then try to catch the saw while it is spinning. And some of that stapling was scary too. Nice job with the instructable though.
bziganti5 years ago
great idea! I'm thinking of building one myself. By the way, how did you manage to move the tractor?
sadlm25 years ago
This is great! Thank you!
Dillis6 years ago
Nice Shopping cart! Also a very good instructable! I laughed when you were using the table saw you could've hurt yourself so badly there!
drawe21 Dillis5 years ago
Also loved the shot of him cutting with his sawzal with his hand right below his direction of cut, gravity sucks and then you have no fingers
slothman5 years ago
i surprised this guy is still alive by watching him with that table saw
Anyone count his fingers after he was done?
ac1D6 years ago
hhey! you wear a shirt! congratulation!
So who's going to start a chickens group? lol.
That's actually a good idea. It seems that there are a lot of chicken hobbyist here.
chuckr446 years ago
The angle of the video was really annoying. Good idea about the chicken pen though.
Davenchi1236 years ago
good idea and good project and semigood vid but the clicking or thumping or what ever that was drove me nutz so yeah i had to stop it and pull my hair out lol
Nice project! It looks great in the end, but I don't have any chickens... This could probably work for your other pets if possible. Nice job!
antagonizer6 years ago
I was already to dish out a darwin award when I saw how you were one handing that reciprocating saw, but when the table saw started to flip over, that clinched my vote. It's a great project, but people are right when they tell you that you shouldn't be handling power tools.
Mr. Rig It6 years ago
Neat idea, you should put some wheels on it to move it easier. Also are they in the tractor overnight or do you remove them at the end of the day? Finally your tool usage is frankly dangerous. You should have let the table saw fall over and not tried to catch it. Oh well we have all learned from it. Nice instructable.
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