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Updated: May 17, 2021

We have been raising our own meat chickens for years and let me tell you there is nothing like eating your own home-grown pasture-raised chicken. It's just good. When we first started I had hoped to build a Joel Salatin type chicken tractor.

But then I saw the design by John Suscovich. You can see his design here. What I liked the best was that a person could enter this tractor to take care of the chickens. But I worried that here in Wyoming with our spring wind that can reach 45 miles per hour, that it may not work for us.

I didn't think that with us only needing one tractor and not a row of these tractors attached to each other, it would just blow away. So I based it off the same design I used to build our mobile greenhouses so we would have a heavy duty chicken tractor. That's right, with the predator pressure we have here on Red Ridge Farm, I had to beef that baby up.

Our Old Chicken Tractor's Flaws

I don't know how heavy that chicken tractor is but it is heavy. I need all four of my men with me to move it. (Yes, I call my boys, men. I will get into that at another time.) We used it and it did work wonders to raise those tasty little chickens but we still lost a few birds to predators.

This tractor was causing more problems than was necessary. So it comes down to this, this chicken tractor was great for raising chickens but it did not protect them and it was also a bear to move.

Last year we changed things up by adding electric fencing around the base of the tractor at night, which worked wonders. We only lost one chicken and that was our fault because we forgot to turn on the electric fence. We solved one problem.

This year we decided to fix problem number two, this tractor is just too heavy for the boys and I to move and it makes the chore of moving the chickens twice a day a burden. We needed a solution!

Finding Our Solution For $40!

We tried to use it as a mobile goat shelter but they just jumped all over it. We were thinking of maybe building a frame under it so we could get it higher off the ground. God has his ways and we never got around to it because instead we built our own goat barn. I love my goat barn. I'll have to give you all a tour of it, one of these days. Let's get back to the chicken tractor problem.

This winter we had plans to go back to the idea of the Joel Salatin chicken tractor. I did all the research, saved the money we would need, we're going to be ready to build it in March. We all know what happened around the world in March. This made me rethink our plans.

I had asked the Lord how are we going to build this new tractor when we were asked to stay home and to do our shopping quickly. The chicks were already ordered and paid for so we had to do something. I had also ordered our new poultry electric fence to use for predator control. I was at a loss.

Then the Lord blessed me with the original idea of converting the truck topper into a chicken tractor. My husband and I went over what we would need to accomplish this goal and we found all we needed was one roll of 2 ft tall hardware cloth. That would mean only a quick trip to town for one item. Cut our time in public down 2 minutes. Thank you, Lord! So in total the truck topper cost us $25 dollars and the hard ware cloth cost us $15, that is a total of $40!

Side note I will only use hardware cloth to protect or chickens. I have had predators rip chicken wire apart!

Here Is What We Did!

Removed all the broken out windows in the side of the topper. This was very simple. We just unscrewed all the screws that held the flashing in place. Then we pulled off the flashing and set it aside to be used to hold the hardware cloth in place later. We then pulled all the staples that were holding the windows. I couldn't believe how easy this build was going to be.

Once everything was cleared we got the hardware cloth to fit across all the windows on one side. Well I held it in place my boys replaced all the flashing and screwed all the screws back into place.

The hardware cloth did end up being too tall so I was thinking we would need to cut it off but instead we pulled it back to create a barrier for predators that could dig.

We did the same thing to the other side. Then we fixed up the rear of the topper.

The tailgate of the topper was missing when we bought it. We used 2” by t2” boards to build a simple frame that we could attach to the topper itself and that the hardware cloth could be stapled to. My husband also figured out how to use a couple pieces of spare flashing to add hardware cloth to the cover the broken window in the front. That was it.

This chicken tractor has changed our lives. I and one other person can move and take care of the chickens. The addition of the poultry net has helped. I also moved it this morning all by myself. Thank you, Lord! We can now do the meat chickens chore faster and easier. It's just amazing. When things come together to improve my ability to grow our own food and do it efficiently. It just helps everything!

Pray, Just Plant!

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