Chicken Tractors Vs Chicken Coops Vs Chicken Houses | The Ultimate Guide

Years ago, a friend of Lone Star Structures built their first chicken coop. He had this to say about the process.”When I built my first chicken coop, I built the shelter and allowed access to a run area on either side. This space gave my chickens space to roam, eat, and be happy. However, within a short time, they had cleared the area of bugs, and there was nothing left for them to eat. Over time, their run became a patch of dirt, and I was left in a pinch.  I had just completed building my chicken setup, and it seemed foolish to rebuild it in a new location every couple of weeks, leaving bare patches of ground behind.” 

Our friend continued to say this:

“Looking back, I wish someone had shown me a chicken tractor.  A chicken tractor would have been the golden ticket for me, And I think anyone considering backyard chickens should consider one!”

So what in the world is a chicken tractor? Well, let’s dig into that a bit more in the blog!

What Is A Chicken Tractor?

A chicken tractor is a portable enclosure that should combine a coop and a grazing area for chickens into a mobile design. The chicken coop gives the chickens a safe place to lay eggs and roost at night. The chicken run allows them to move around the enclosed area to forage for bugs or simply an area to sunbathe. This entire setup is placed on wheels to make it moveable, allowing you to change locations whenever you please. Hence, the term “chicken tractor.”

How Does A Chicken Tractor Work?

A chicken tractor has a set of wheels that will bear the weight of the enclosure when you lift up the other end.  Opposite the wheels is a pair of handles or a bar which is used to lift the structure several inches of the ground on one end. Applying forward motion will then propel your chicken tractor to the desired location.

Can One Person Move A Chicken Tractor?

Yes. In most cases, a chicken tractor can be moved by one person. However, the design will determine how much effort will be required to move the building. At Lone Star Structures, we design our chicken tractors with simple moving and easy access in mind. The wheels are placed midway underneath the coop to create a lever effect, taking some weight off the handles. 

On the other hand, our design has a bar that is connected to the handlebars to provide excellent grip. As the handle is quite large, there is enough working room for two people to move the chicken tractor.

Overall, our structures are easy to move around. Generally, one adult is all it takes to move it. Not sure that you believe the hype we are giving you about this product?

Check out the user-friendly design of our chicken tractors for yourself.

How Often Should I Move My Chicken Tractor?

In an ideal situation, you should move your chicken tractor every day. However, that may be a bit difficult to do

However, the frequency of moving your chicken tractor depends on the number of chickens, available area, and condition of the ground. If you have 4 or more chickens and plenty of areas, we recommend that you move them every day. This will allow for better grazing, which ensures happier and well-fed chickens.

If you have 3  chickens or have less area to move your chicken tractor, waiting for 2-3 days will be fine.  Keep in mind the longer you have your chicken coop in the same area, the more the ground will get worn down.

What Breeds Of Chickens Do Well In A Chicken Tractor?

what-breeds-of-chickens-dp-well-in-chicken-tractors

Most breeds of chickens will thrive in a chicken tractor.  However, a chicken breed that may not thrive in this environment is rapid-growing “meat birds” like the Cornish Cross. Because they grow so fast, they can develop leg problems which may make it difficult for them to move around in this kind of environment. 

Is It Easy To Work With A Chicken Tractor?

Yes. Chicken tractors are versatile buildings, with several access points to make working with these buildings a breeze. Specifically, our structures have an access door on the side into the sheltered area. We also add outside access to the nesting boxes for convenient egg collection. We firmly believe that accessibility is key to convenience for you and your flock.

What Is the Difference Between Chicken Coops And Chicken Tractors?

Chicken coops are often stationary chicken habitats. Whereas our chicken tractors offer a coop as a part of the system. Traditionally, most people think of chicken coops as consisting of a run, a living area, and nesting boxes. However, the coop part is simply the part that the chickens sleep and live. Our chicken tractors provide a coop while having wheels and a handle to be moved to different locations.

What is The Purpose Of A Chicken Coop?

The main thing that a coop gives is shelter from the weather. Chickens are hardy animals, but they need a space to sleep, eat, lay their eggs, and get out of the wind and rain. That is exactly what a chicken coop should do.

Although your chicken coop shouldn’t be totally airtight, your coop should be rain-tight to prevent the chickens from getting wet and the chicken feed from becoming soaked.  It also should keep other critters from entering and eating the feed and eggs. If your coop is in the sun, make sure that the chickens have an area of shade to be in while they are in the chicken run to prevent too much sun exposure.    

What Should My Chicken Coop Do For My Chickens?

Shelter

what-does-my-chicken-coop-need-for-my-birds-to-be-healthy-in-texas

The main thing that a chicken coop gives is shelter from the weather. Chickens are hardy animals, but they need a space to sleep, eat, lay their eggs, and get out of the wind and rain. Although it shouldn’t be totally airtight, your coop should be rain-tight to prevent the chickens from getting wet and the chicken feed from becoming soaked.  It also should keep other critters from entering and eating the feed and eggs. If your coop is in the sun, make sure that the chickens have an area of shade to be in while they are in the chicken run to prevent too much sun exposure.

Safety

Chickens can scare easily, and if they are living in an environment that feels unsafe, it can cause them stress. In times of stress, chickens in stress may lead to fewer or no eggs at all. Your chicken coop should be a place of safety for your chickens. To provide them with a safe space to live, follow these tips!

First, it should be built so no other animals can enter, especially at night. Once inside the coop, predators may eat the eggs, kill the chickens, or, best case scenario, eat the chicken feed.  These marauders often enter through the “pop” door, or chicken door, or through the eaves. 

Second, ensure that the eves are entry proof. In order to keep pests out of the structure, close in the eaves with wire or soffit to prevent accessibility. This will allow proper airflow throughout the building but keep the varmints out. 

The biggest thing that you can do is add in an automatic chicken coop door that will open and close automatically. This will keep your chickens safe without having to go out to your chicken coop every single time. A manual chicken door can also work well if you don’t mind opening it every morning and evening. To do this, place a cable and pulley system to make it easier to access. 

Ventilation

If you grew up close to a chicken farm, you are probably familiar with the smell, especially on a hot summer night. No one likes a stinky coop, and even if the chickens don’t seem to mind, it is not good for them to be living in. 

A good amount of airflow is key to keep the smell away and giving your chickens a proper environment. Your specific setup may make keeping your chicken area ventilated more or less difficult. Your roof-line should be designed to facilitate airflow, either in the eaves
(the edges) or the ridge (the peak). 

Additionally, here are a few tips to give your chicken tractor the best ventilation.

First, ensure that your chickens can spend significant time in their run, reducing the amount of droppings that accumulate in their coop area. 

Second, ensure the waterer is secure to keep it from leaning or tipping, preventing water spills.  This will keep your bedding dry, thus lowering the amount of airflow that is necessary and preventing bad smells. 

Natural lighting

Are chickens scared of the dark? Ironically, not really, but they do have different behaviors when it is dark. They really struggle to see at dusk and nighttime.  Light also affects their biological rhythms, as with most animals. Chickens will function best, including optimal egg production, when they have up to 15 hours of light per day. Windows are recommended to give your chickens the light that they need. To do that, we install two windows in our chicken structures to allow natural light inside the coop area.  Check out our chicken tractor inventory to see how our structures can provide plenty of sunlight.

What Do I Need in a chicken coop?

Food and Water

We want to provide the basic necessities for our poultry pets, with food and water being the most important. Make sure that both are easily accessible with fresh food or water. We recommend using a gallon size drinker that can be either set on a block or hung from the ceiling. It doesn’t work well to place on the ground as the water will get dirty very quickly. Make sure that it is 2-5 inches from the floor, depending on the size of birds that you have. If you have chicks, use a smaller version similar to this reversible chick feeder and drinker. 

For a feeder, we recommend a feeder that is self-feeding so that you don’t have to add feed every single day. Chickens typically don’t overeat, especially if they are also outside and are receiving good nutrition. The best place for the feeder is inside the coop to keep the food dry,  pushing the chickens to eat bugs and grass when they are outside. Also, keep the feeder elevated 2 or 3 inches to prevent the chickens from scratching the feed out and wasting it. 

Because your chickens are outside, they should be getting enough of grit by foraging;  however, if it is winter and they are staying inside most of the time, it would be wise to add some grit, like sand or limestone shells, to your feed or in another feeder. Most feed supply stores will have chicken feed and grit for you to purchase. 

Roosting

Chickens seem to be fairly clumsy once they get off the ground (except some bantams, which can be fairly good fliers for chickens), but they still need a place to roost at night. Most birds are hardwired to get off the ground when sleeping, probably as a method of predator evasion when they are most vulnerable in the wild. In your chicken coop, you should have a rod or 2×4 installed at least a foot to two off the floor that will accommodate all of your fowl. The higher it is, the more space a chicken needs to be able to fly up;  therefore, the roost should be manageable, or they may have some difficulty getting onto it.

The above video showcases the roosts and nesting boxes that we provide in our chicken tractors.

Nesting Boxes

Laying eggs is a private matter, understandably, and your nesting boxes ideally would accommodate that. This is one area that can be dark, so placing a light to shine directly into the boxes is not recommended.  The nesting box should be approximately 12” H x12” W x12” D.  You should have 1 box per 3-4 hens. Placing soft, clean bedding into them makes the hen feel more comfortable and keeps eggs clean. 

In the coop portion of our chicken tractors, we install the nesting boxes to jut out from the wall. This gives outside access to egg collection.  This also prevents the chickens from roosting over the top of the nesting boxes. 
Not sure how this would look? Take a look at our chicken tractor inventory.

Bedding

Good bedding is crucial to keeping your chicken pen clean. The bedding should be absorbent and easy to clean. Some options include hay, straw, wood shavings, sawdust, sand, shredded paper, or hemp bedding. However, we recommend using pine wood shavings over the rest of the options. 

This is because they are naturally highly absorbent, cheap, smell nice, and easy to clean out. Most feed supply stores have a product very similar to these pine wood shavings

Some people like to use sand as a more economical option. It absorbs well and can be replaced more infrequently. However, If you use sand, make sure that you get very coarse sand because fine sand will become packed and will be very dusty. 

What Is The Difference Between A Chicken House And a Chicken Tractor?

A chicken house is what farmers use for commercial chicken production. The chicken production may be for meat or for eggs on a large scale basis. On the other hand, a chicken tractor will be used as a small at home solution for those who desire just a few chickens for eggs or meat.

What Is The Difference Between Chicken Coops, Chicken Houses, And Chicken Tractors?

StructureProsCons
Chicken CoopGood Place For Roosting And Laying Eggs
Provides Secure Area For Chickens At Night
Unable To Move The Structure
No Chicken Run
Chicken HouseExtremely Large And Versatile Space
Most Cost Efficient Way To Raise Large Amount Of Meat Birds And Eggs
Only For Commercial Use
Most Of Us Don’t Need 50,000+ Eggs A Day
Traditional Chicken TractorMoveable
Lightweight
secure
Compact Size
Cheaper Model Can Be Flimsy
Low end Models May Not Offer A Coop For Roosting
Lone Star Structures Chicken TractorChicken Coop And Chicken Tractor All In One
Well Designed And Well Built
We May Be Biased, But We Can Not Think Of Any 😊

Chicken coops, chicken houses, chicken tractors, don’t they all refer to the exact same thing? Not really….they all have slightly different connotations. So if you are feeling a little confused let us clarify what the differences are.

Chicken Coops:

A chicken coop refers to the part of the chicken enclosure where the chickens will sleep, live and lay their eggs. While most chicken enclosures come with some kind of “coop” area not all chicken enclosures come with an outdoor run area. Chicken coops should never be purchased by themselves if the chickens will not be able to get out and enjoy the outdoor area.

Chicken house:

Chicken houses are large commercial barns for production of mass quantities of chickens. These barns are used for meat chickens or even layer hends. The chances are you won’t want a facility this large as they house hundreds of chickens and require special permitting to own.

Chicken Tractors:

Chicken Tractors refers to a moveable chicken enclosure. This is where “free range” and safety intermix, it is allows your chickens to go to different areas with on the property and be protected from predators. However, not all chicken tractors have a coop area for the chickens to live, roost, or lay.

Lone Star Structures Chicken Tractors:

A Lone Star Structure chicken tractor combines the best of both worlds! Our chicken tractors have a nesting box, a coop and a run. It is also on wheels so that you can easily move your coop to wherever your heart desires. This is truly a work horse for your chickens, and is better quality, offers more and more affordable than what the big box store chicken coops have to offer.

Frequently Asked Questions About Chicken Tractors:

How can I improve my chicken tractor?

There are several ways to improve your chicken tractor. First, make a perch in the run area so that the chickens can hop up off the ground. This can provide entertainment which may keep them from pecking each other.
Secondly, allow for a portion of the run to be in direct sunlight to give the chickens a chance to sunbathe.  Often they will scratch dust into their feathers as well. This is one way that they keep their feathers and skin clean. If your chicken run is in the sun, make sure they have shade as well. This can be done by spreading a blanket over top of the run.
Thirdly, move your chicken tractor more often. This gives your chickens more access to bugs and fresh grass, both of which are good for health and eggs.

Is It Safe To Keep My Rooster and Hens Together In A Chicken Tractor?

Yes, roosters and hens can coexist just fine. In fact, if you don’t mind the crowing, we recommend that you keep one rooster with your hens. Roosters are territorial and will “guard” the hens. In general, put 1 rooster in per 5-8 hens. Just keep in mind that having your rooster may result in having some baby chicks at a later time, and may cause you to need additional space for your chicken coop.

How much room does my chicken need In A Chicken Tractor?

This depends on breed, run size, and climate. Generally, plan on 2-3 square feet per chicken in the coop area if they also have access to a run. If they don’t have outside access, they should have at least 4 square feet.  What is more important are nesting boxes, roosting space, waterers, and feeders. You should have one nesting box for 3-4 hens and 6-10 inches of roosting space per bird. Figure 2-4 inches of space per chicken at the waterers and feeders. 

Can A Chicken Tractor Be Used As A Stationary Chicken Coop?

Absolutely. Lone Star Structures builds their chicken tractors with the thought that if you get tired of moving it every so often, it can also serve as a year-round stationary chicken habitation. The nice thing is that you always have the option to move it later on if would like to.

Is it easy to add chickens to my chicken tractor ?

Yes! Some new chickens can just be placed into your flock with no problems; however, they often need time to adjust to each other and develop a new pecking order. It is usually best to have them close to each other where they can see and hear each other, but not in the same pen. This will allow them to get used to how the other look and sounds without the chance of pecking. 

After they seem comfortable with that arrangement, place them in the same pen. Monitor them for some time to make sure that they do not gang up on any of them.  There may be some fighting, but that should be okay if it doesn’t last more than 15 or 20 seconds. These fights mean they are developing a pecking order when they are doing this. For the next several weeks, keep an eye on them.  They may group up, the old ones and the new ones, but over time this should disappear. If a group turns on one or two chickens and starts to bully them, remove the bullied chickens from the pen. 

So How Many Eggs Can You Eat In A Day?

At Lone Star Structures we are committed to creating the chicken tractor that you need. Whether you want one chicken tractor for just a small collection of chickens or several chicken tractors to have a small farmette we are here to serve you.

Not interested in a chicken tractor? That is okay! Check out one of our many other buildings that we have to offer.

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Lone Star Structures is family owned and we started building top-notch storage sheds more than 25 years ago! Old-fashioned values of honesty, integrity, and good work ethic are a part of our tradition and our goal is to honor Christ as we interact with our neighbors and community. Our hard-working family and employees are ready to help your dream backyard become a reality. We stand by ready to help you!

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