The whole idea of a chicken
tractor is pretty simple. Build a lightweight chicken pen without a
bottom. Include a place to roost and a couple of nest boxes and you
have a moveable chicken pen... AKA: Chicken Tractor. When I first heard
the term I pictured a huge chicken strapped to a plow!!! Not!!! They
call it a tractor because wherever you place the chickens will
eventually be "plowed". After about a week the grass will be eaten, the
roots dug up and eaten and the newly upturned earth thoroughly
fertilized. Despite what you might think, this is a MUCH more civilized
way to keep chickens that the old chicken-coop standby that includes a
breeding ground for mites, lice and numerous etcettera. Not only will
the chickens be happier, you will too. Keeping chickens in a moveable
pen absolutely eliminates that yucky smell, the eggs are almost always
clean because they pen is moved before the muck and slime can grow. :-(
The nutritional benefits of free-range eggs is as good for the chickens
as it is for you. You will not find a need for dusting for mites,
worming isn't needed because they never "live" for very long in their
own feces, and all in all the chickens are happier... and we all know
that a happy chicken makes alot of eggs.
The event that sold me on the idea of keeping a chicken tractor was the
birth of our 4th child in March of 2001. I didn't have time to weed my
garden! My Dad non-chalantly said, "If you had some chickens they could
at least keep the bugs out that are coming because of the weeds."
Enough to get even this post-partum fuzzy brain whirling! What if??????
I built a chicken tractor to accomodate my garden which is laid out in
wide-bed, year round mulched, no-till format (ala Ruth Stout). My
chicken tractor can be driven between the rows! I move it weekly, and
by the time I reach the end of my garden the first patch is ready to be
"tractored" again. There is no risk of the chickens eating my plants
either, because I use small chicken wire and they can't get their heads
through. This year (2004) we are going to try our hand at Bantams so I
might need to re-do the size of the wire to keep their fuzzy little
heads inside the tractor.
This isn't mine, but it is almost exactly the same as mine except
that I covered in the top sides and back of one-fourth of the
coop. My chickens winter in thier tractor too so I wanted some
shelter from the cold for them. They do just fine as I put a heat lamp
in there during January - March.