Chicken Tractors and various questions...

outdoor-girl(6)January 14, 2008

I apologize in advance if I'm introcuding a redundant topic, but my search of previous posts yielded no results. :)

I'm wondering how many of you chicken people out there keep chickens in chicken tractors? (Wow...how many times can you get "chicken" in a sentence?) I'm wanting to add a small flock of egg-layers to our small farm. My grandpa always kept a flock, but they were always kept in a traditional coop with a large yard. I'm wanting to avoid the large chicken yard by using a movable coop, and wondered how others fared with this setup. True free-ranging isn't really feasable, as we live "out in the google-peas", as grandpa used to say...and predators are pretty thick.

Also, if you do use a movable coop, is it year-round or do you move the flock to a winter coop? We live in northern Arkansas...gets cold but not the frigid temps of the north.

In my internet wanderings, I've read everything...including the practice of butchering the flock in the winter, and starting fresh every year.

Lots of options and opinions...can anyone out there give me their two cents?

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doninalaska

I had a chicken tractor that I made the same size as my garden beds--width-wise any way-- and I would keep the chickens in there starting in early spring to weed and de-bug the beds prior to planting. They churned up the soil and fertilized it a little, as well. We would move them into the pastures after the garden got going. We never kept them in the tractors during the cold weather . Winter is just too rough up here.

    Bookmark   January 15, 2008 at 12:23AM
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Miss_Kitty(6a KY)

I bought an electric mesh fence last year. instead of making a chicken tractor. It appears two work as well, and is larger 84' long.

It may not be for everyone, but we have a lot of pasture space for the horses. This just puts the chickens and ducks out of the way.

    Bookmark   January 15, 2008 at 10:35PM
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cranberry15(Zone 5 WI)

I use a chicken tractor from spring-fall in Wisconsin. I ALSO use the electronet so I can let them almost free range during the day when I'm around to open & close their door. It's sort of a compromise. I've got 2 chickens, and if I don't move that tractor about every 2 days, they can really trash the grass.
In the winter, I move them to the winter palace: an old insulated milk house with deep litter. I open the door for them during the day and if there's no snow, they'll go outside and peck around even when it's pretty darn cold.

    Bookmark   January 16, 2008 at 4:53PM
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outdoor-girl(6)

I appreciate the advice! I think I'm taking your route cranberry, of the tractor plus electronet. I imagine this first year in our new place will be a lot of learning what works and what doesn't. I guess that's part of the fun? :)

    Bookmark   January 16, 2008 at 8:55PM
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posy_pet(z6Mo.)

I have a chicken tractor and the first year,I sent the borrowed hens back to the farm.Two years ago,my husband built me a small chicken house.It is warm and dry and easier for me to take care of in the winter.I think the chickens might have been okay in the tractor with plastic stapled on but dealing with frozen water and doors in it was too much for me.Also,he encouraged me to put all 10 hens and 2 roosters in the same house because they would be easier to care for.It did finally work-lots of disagreements among the hens and roosters tho.They did finally make peace without killing each other.Posy Pet

    Bookmark   March 8, 2008 at 9:50PM
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spogarden

I like the idea of making it to fit my raised beds, thanks. I don't know that I have ever seen an electronet. We have crows here that will steal the eggs if you let them get into the coops. has anyone ever used an old metal shed as a coop?

    Bookmark   March 9, 2008 at 4:31PM
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outdoor-girl(6)

After much deliberation and inquiry from local chicken-keepers, I decided on what I think is the best of all worlds - a movable (with tractor) wire-bottom coop, with an insulated interior area (warm in the winter, cooler in the summer), with a door at each corner for rotational grazing options, ultimately keeping the chickens ranging in a large electrified yard. We live out in the boonies, so predator protection has been our biggest concern.

Who knows...I do know that too much time and thought have been put in for just 14 chickens! On the bright side, Fort Chicken was built with culled lumber from Lowes, at a very small fraction of our initial estimated cost. At that price, we can justify experimenting with different coop setups. Best of luck to everyone else starting on their own chicken adventure!

    Bookmark   March 9, 2008 at 8:28PM
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frugal_gary(alvin tx)

"out in the google-peas", as grandpa used to say...

Was your grandpa a computer geek way ahead of his time? I have never heard the word "google" not refering to computers.
If you have predator problems I would suggest you start small scale to see how much of a problem you have. It is tough when you find one dead or missing.
I have considered doing like donin, but the dogs would tear the place apart to get at a chicken.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2008 at 9:24AM
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