Monday, November 16, 2015

Our chicken tractor

I am so excited to finally have a chicken tractor! Since I began this season with 13 chicks and only have 5 left, I am very happy. Thanks to the birds of prey and the neighbour's cat.
In case you don't know, this chicken tractor allows the animals to be safe while being moved daily to a new spot. They are still locked into a fortress at night in case of genets or mongoose who may come visiting but during the day they can walk around and scratch, eat grass and weeds and what ever is in the soil. They dust bath, sunbathe and do chicken stuff. They can lay eggs in the nesting boxes instead of all over the farm where I can't find them. Wiley tarts!

Another benefit is that I have 2 beautiful cockerels and they have begun fighting for dominance and the ladies attentions.  I have split my flock so each rooster has his own harem in a separate home. Zoro has the 5 older ladies and Chip has 4 young hens with the 5 chicks in the tractor. The birds in the tractor seem very happy although Zoro is a bit put out to have so few ladies! When I move the tractor further from the other flock, things will be more peaceful. I am always surprised what short memories chickens seem to have.

And so I have had several people who have never had birds say its a bad idea and that they should be free-ranging. This had always been my view until we moved to a farm and came to realise that everything likes chicken for breakfast lunch and dinner! I love my hens and this is my best option for keeping them safe. I don't want to loose any more of my family.

We made it of all bits and pieces we could find- all recycled or reclaimed stuff. IBR sheeting off-cuts for the roof, steel sheets and timber for the house, scrap timber from building our volunteers' cabin, chicken wire for the sides and the bottom of the house and of course the bicycle wheels. We are not sure if the wheels will be strong enough to carry the house all over the farm but so far so good.
We treated all the timber with EnviroTouch wood finishes- our left-over bits and linseed oil. All safe for chickens.

The nesting box roof hinges open to collect the eggs.
Note that the reclaimed bicycle wheels are off the ground when it is in its place leaving no gap for anything to crawl in and attack the birds.
The plank is fixed with a bolt and is raised and locked in place so the tractor can be easily moved. 4 wheels were used as the tractor is very heavy.

When the girls aren't in the house, I will post another photo of their bedroom.

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