Stories of life on our farm in Northwest Georgia where every day is an adventure in this beautiful spot that God has entrusted to our stewardship.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Recipe for a Chicken Tractor

One of my readers asked for more information on our chicken tractor, so I promised to share some photographs that give more detail.  Herb based ours off of the ones he saw at Nature's Harmony Farm, but the following website was also helpful, including the link for the Mark II pdf:

Herb made our door by cutting the cattle panel on the end like the ones at NHF, but I've asked him to make our next one like Robert Plamondon's, using wood framing.  We were concerned about the weight, but have been able to move it with no problem and feel the extra wood would not significantly increase the weight.  The problem with our door is that it was extremely difficult to cover completely with chicken wire.  At NHF, they have livestock guardian dogs and do not need to cover their chicken tractors with chicken wire because the dogs keep predators away.  Since our big dog tends to chew on our chickens, we need the predator-proofing!

A view of the chicken tractor with the door open.  This tarp is too small and would be completely inadequate if we were getting rain, but it's all we have right now since the windstorm ripped away our good silver tarp.  You can see the suspended waterer and feeding tray, the brooder box at left (which supports the heat lamp), and the rope handle in front.  I put it through a hollow metal bar which serves as a comfortable handle when pulling the weight of the chicken tractor.
Here is a close-up of one of our door "hinges."   Herb cut the door out of one end panel, then hinged it with these.  He just tightened the screws enough to require a tiny bit of effort to pull the door open, and it tends to stay where we leave it.  A bungie cord hangs from the inside of the chicken tractor; if we enter to feed or water the chickens and don't want them to get out, we just pull the door shut behind us and hold it in place with the bungie cord until we're ready to leave.
Here is a close-up of the corner bracing, also showing how the cattle panel is stapled in place and how the rope handle is tied around the bracing through the chicken wire.
Another view of a corner also shows the wheel (which we realize we don't really need because the chicken tractor pulls easily enough), as well as the roost we wedged in later as the chickens began trying to roost on top at night.  When we were having to catch half of them and stuff them inside every night, it seemed time to give them a more appropriate place to roost!
Finally, this picture shows how we use lightweight chain to hang the feeder and waterer.  An "S" hook hooks onto the cattle panel wherever we want it.  The bottom of the "S" is pinched shut around the top link of the chain so it won't jiggle loose when the chicken tractor is moved.  An "O" ring on the bottom link of the chain secures a metal clip which allows the feeder to be easily removed for cleaning if necessary.  For the waterer, we just pull the chain through the handle and clip it to itself.

Some people build their chicken tractors 6' high so they can stand up inside them.  We were more concerned about the strong winds we get here on our open hillsides, so we built ours shorter.  Since we can't fully stand up inside, we wanted a quick system for attaching and removing things in order to spare our backs;

Despite the few changes we would make next time, we're extremely satisfied with our chicken tractor, and we plan to use it regularly!


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    1. This comment was deleted because it contained questionable links to which I do not wish to subject my readers. If my readers wish to share legitimate links in a reply, that is perfectly fine with me as long as they post the link in such a manner that readers (and I) can see the entire link and know what we're clicking on.

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