Winter base for a chicken tractor

Chicken tractor base

You may remember Duncan
Sickler’s elegant chicken tractor, and especially his
lift system

He was concerned about how his ladies would fare over the winter, so he
made a special
box to
support the tractor during the cold months.  I’ll let Duncan tell
you about it in his own words:

Chicken tractor base diagram
I finished making a “winter Base” for our chicken tractor and I mounted
our tractor on it. We get a lot of snow here in the mountains in winter
so we built a base to set the chicken tractor on for the winter months.
We are using the “deep litter” method in the lower section which
consists of starting with about 4 inches of wood shavings and some
straw mixed in. We will cover the screened section of the tractor in
bad weather with heavy clear plastic to keep out snow but let in light.

Chicken tractor base parts
deep litter will protect the girls from getting frostbite on bitter
cold days and produces
some heat from the composting of the litter and poop
. The base has
a large door for easy periodic cleaning.

Chicken tractor base front
bottom dimensions of our chicken tractor are 7′ 10″ X 4′ 2″. I
built the base to match those dimensions. I have included the plan
drawings which you are free to share if you wish. They could be easily
adapted to the dimensions of other open bottom type tractors.

you can see in the pictures… the base is set on the slope of our
yard on blocks and landscaping timbers. The runners under the base are
treated 4X4s to protect from rot. The base is a bit overbuilt with
(rough lumber called 5/4) because I had a good friend who had some of
this wood laying around in that size and he generously gave me enough
to build this! He also helped me build it! That is a friend!!
I also wanted to have a strong base because of the predator problem up
here on the mountain I pretty much think this is “bear proof” if there
is such a thing!

Cheaper chicken tractor base
could use a lot lighter construction than this if you are not
worried about predators and / or you wanted to save money on
construction. 2X4s would probably do for the frame.

Another idea I had was to use 4X4 frame and plywood to build it. (See
picture of x-ray view of that set of plans). You could use plywood or
exterior siding as well. The whole point is to make the best use of
what you have already and git-r-done!

Before we changed over
to coops and pastures, winter was a tough time for our chickens since
we eventually ended up dragging the tractor through mud.  I loved
Duncan’s solution to the mud problem, but wondered how his chickens got
up to the top level of his two story tractor once the “floor” was
lowered by the winter base.  He wrote:

Chicken ramp
took a picture of the setup… I installed a 2×4 across the winter base
at the bottom of the ramp. They just jump up on the cross piece and
step on the ramp. Works like a charm! I was considering adding a ramp
up to the cross piece but…. no need for it.

Hopefully Duncan’s
winter base will serve as an inspiration to help winter chicken
tractorers keep their flock out of the mud!

Duncan uses a heated chicken waterer, built using our plans, to
keep the flock’s water flowing during cold weather.

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