Quail Tractor

For a while now I’ve been talking up quail as an alternative to chickens. With a small footprint (0.5 sqft/bird), quick maturation (~ 8 weeks), great egg production (1/day), and relatively quiet they seem ideal for the suburban farmer trying to evade the heavy handy of the HOA.

While I’m waiting for the shed floor to dry I decided to try my hand at building a quail tractor. If you’re not familiar with the animal tractor concept, it’s essentially a movable animal enclosure. The idea being that every day or so you move the enclosure to a new patch of lawn for the animal to nibble on and fertilize. Tractors can range from huge requiring an actual tractor to move around to small enough for a person to push around the lawn. I put together a design for a 2′ X 2′ enclosure in SketchUp. Some major design points I was really wanted to focus on were:

Stages of Construction
  • Lightweight Construction: Most of the lumber is either 1×2 or 2×2 rather than 2×4.
  • Security: 1/2″ hardware cloth covers all open sides, bottom and top. Edges of the hardware cloth are sandwiched in between two boards. This also prevents the animal from coming into contact with sharp edges.
  • Easy access into the enclosure: The entire roof opens up easily as does the front of the cage.
  • Low maintenance feeding and watering: Both the feeding system and watering system are gravity fed systems located outside of the main structure. To feed the quail stick there heads through the holes on right side of the structure. As they eat, more food drops through the hopper.
First step of  any project is cleaning off your work space

Building the floor frame with 1x2s

The hardware cloth is stapled to the lower frame and then further secured by the upper frame. A persistent predator can work out staples and eventually create a gap. 

Building out the walls

 Attaching the feeder

He’s not so keen on gardening but he’ll be sure to make an appearance if power tools are involved. 

Painting before attaching the hardware cloth. The hardware cloth will be stapled to the frames on the left. These wall and roof panels will then be attached to the structure with screws. Again this is to provide security and keep the quail from coming into contact with any sharp edges.

I think I’m going to need some more daylight savings time.

Here’s where my help disappeared to 

Panels are attached. Roof is attached. Almost ready for quail.