While searching for a sensible chicken tractor option, I came across zip tie dome chicken tractor kits sold by a family here in Tennessee. I love to stimulate local economy, and I love when small business owners solve real world problems, so I decided to try out the zip tie dome chicken tractor.
We ordered a kit that provided a schematic blueprint, pre-cut & pre-drilled PVC pipes, and several bags of heavy duty zip ties. I bought the chicken wire and a small tarp separately at the local hardware store.
Is PVC Safe?
I’m still on the fence about this. So as a general rule, we don’t let our kids touch PVC and we don’t use PVC for anything that might leech into our bodies. We typically never buy canned food. We only buy a few supplies in glass jars because we know we’re not getting PVC laced food.
As for the zip tie dome chicken tractor, we decided for now that the amount of contact with the ground is so minimal that the usefulness of an easily movable chicken tractor justified the experiment. I’m not 100% gung ho about it, though. If another solution presents itself, I will be more than happy to retire the dome.
Building with Children
The zip tie dome is designed simply enough for a child to help. So Katie and Micah jumped in to help me assemble this massive building blog project. Of course, it’s always a challenge to build anything with a one year old around. But we did our best and at least some of the time baby Levi enjoyed watching us work.
It wasn’t long before the dome structure was too tall for the children to help. So they mostly stood on the deck and told me every few minutes how amazing it looked. I love those kids.
We had a few incidents where the goats (who happened to be ranging free at the time) would “redistribute” the parts around the yard. Again, this is why people raise sheep. #notgoats
How it Works
It’s pretty roomy inside. The dome inventors suggest that this medium sized zip tie dome will house 50 or more chickens. I hope they’re right, because honestly this kit was too expensive to justify building a second one for the next couple years.
The idea here is that the chickens will have open access to fresh air and fresh ground daily. It’s supposed to be as easy as lifting one side by the handles and dragging to a new patch of grass.
Now that I think of it, I’m not exactly sure where the waterers will go, and those would not be easily dragged from one patch to the next unless totally empty. So that may complicate our super simple solution a bit. We’ll cross that bridge when we get there.
How Much Does it Cost?
At approximately $2.08 per square foot, the zip tie dome chicken tractor is the most affordable solution I’ve found. Keep in mind, I don’t make a dime if you buy one of these kits. I’m just passing along the info.
If you ever want to stop using your dome for chickens, you can replace the chicken wire with plastic and you have an instant greenhouse! The natural curve of the geodesic design will easily shed water from the greenhouse plastic.
You can also winterize it with plastic for your chickens and cover the ground in hay. Just drag your dome to a new patch of ground once the hay is dirty.
It’s strong enough to hang waterers, perches, and nesting boxes from, though it seems it would complicate the easy-to-move aspect significantly.
All in all, it’s a great starter option for homesteaders looking to raise broilers without the complicated workings of a chicken tractor on wheels.