The Little Chicken Fctory

American Made Since 2010

Roy Nilson

Petersham, Massachusetts
Freeranging is dangerous for chickens. The Happy Chicken Tractor offers safer daycare for small flocks. It ships UPS and assembles with no tools.

Tell us about your business.

My son came home with ducks. As they wandered around in the yard, I worried about predators. So I got some old chicken wire, used 2 X 4s and built a rolling coop. It was covered with a blue tarp. It was ugly, too heavy to move and not really very secure. So I started from a blank sheet of paper to pick materials, keep the weight down and make a mobile coop. I tried the idea out on people who know chickens. I talked with a neighbor who is a welder. When I showed the first model to a woman who raised blue-ribbon silkies, she said OK, now go show it to the folks at I did. And the owner bought it for his chickens. Oops. Now what? Make more? To date, the Happy Chicken Tractor is on four reseller websites with 187 units sold in 33 states. It weighs 35 pounds, assembles without tools and ships UPS ground in one box. Judy in Atlanta says, 'If my chickens could write you a thank you note, they would. The tractor gets them out daily, and protects them from my dogs and hawks.'

What makes your business stand out?

The Little Chicken Factory is a virtual business. I package complete units from locally made parts that I designed. Doors, welding and shade covers are made locally by local businesses. Our coated chicken wire is made in MA. Cable ties to attach the netting are made in MA. Each unit ships with a literature packet of brochures collected from other nearby on-line businesses with products of all kinds. Each unit includes a shade over, waterer, feeder and snips to trim the chicken wire as needed. (And a packet of sunflower seeds.) I also offer discounts and donations from purchases to raise money for chicken tractors that could be sent to places where people need safer housing for small flocks and to support non-profit groups selected by my customers.

What's the best business advice you've received?

Pay attention to the customer, your suppliers and DO NOT QUIT. Under-promise and over-deliver.

Mark Your Calendar

  • Nominations
    June 3–Aug. 29, 2014

    Nominate yourself or other aspiring makers.

  • Judging
    June 23–Sept. 9, 2014

    Judges will select finalists throughout this period.

    Meet the judges
  • Online Voting
    Sept. 15–Oct. 13, 2014

    Vote for your favorite American makers.

    Vote now
  • Winners Announced
    Oct. 17, 2014

    2014 Award Winners and Audience Choice Winner announced.

    See past Award Winners
  • American Made Event
    Nov. 7–8, 2014

    Join us for our annual event in New York City.

    Buy tickets now

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