Next, add a door. We built this from 1X2's and metal corner braces. Make sure it is 36" tall from the middle of the boards so that you can use only one piece of wire to cover it. Use the same small staples to secure the wire. Notice the 2X2 roost inside the chicken tractor. Be sure to add that before securing the tarp. Use the small fence staples tapped into each end to hold it in the proper location.
|Chicken tractor in our newly established orchard.|
Happy chickens (3 month old pullets) get fresh grass every day and don't have to stand around in there own poop.
Use any old discarded beverage bottle as a water bottle. Drill a small hole in the bottom to allow a wire hook to hang from the tractor roof. You can make your own hook from surplus fence wire. I bought chicken nipples to fit into the bottle caps. These are easy to fit with a drill and bit. Try to find the largest water bottle possible so that your chickens have a fresh supply. These are small bottles so I am using two of them.
I'm moving these chicken tractors twice a day on bad grass and once a day on good grass. I believe that Salatin's idea is to allow the chickens to use up 30% of the grass before moving on. You'll need to adjust the number of chickens and time between moves so that they are beneficial to your pasture. Currently I've got about 12 pullets per tractor based on feeding and watering once per day. That count will decrease as they get larger.
|This method has been modified. See pic below.|
I use a 6' length of PVC pipe to move these tractors. Just raise one end and tap the pipe under with your toe. Go to the other end and push the tractor. Sometimes it rolls and other times it just slides on top of the pipe. Be careful not to roll it on top of the chickens' legs. If there is a way to get their legs caught up in this thing they will find it! A little patience goes a long way here.
|Chicken tractor predator protection!|
7/24/2013 update: I forgot to mention how our chickens are protected in these chicken tractors. Meet Hanna and Sadie. Our Great Pyrenees farm dogs protect the chickens as well as all other parts of the farm.
|Use two 20" sections of 1 1/2" PVC pipe to roll the chicken tractor.|
8/1/2013 update: The 6' length of PVC pipe was still running over their legs too many times. I cut two 20" sections of 1 1/2" PVC to use on each side that seems to work much better. It's also easier to remove after rolling the tractor.
Next up: we'll be building larger chicken tractors with wheels and layer boxes to permanently house adult hens.