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 Post subject: CHICKEN TRACTORS
PostPosted: Sun May 13, 2007 10:55 am 
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Old Mother Goose
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Show and Tell.
You show me yours and I'll show you mine.


A chicken tractor is a movable (usually) floorless chicken coop for the purposes of pest control, lawn care, fertilization, and sheltering the chickens. Your chooks can be part of your sustainable program for the organic management of pests and diseases enabling reduced dependence on pesticides and nutritional supplements.

A must for the tractor is it needs to be able to be moved easily by 1-2 people, having wheels can be helpful and make for a solo operation . This can be difficult if you live in a wet area though.

Have a sheltered off end from the weather. A nice comfortable place to roost at night. A nestbox to lay those gorgeous bum nuts.( bum nuts are aussie for EGGS) Food and water containers. These containers can be suspended from the roof of the tractor to allow for easier movement in the enclosure.

Some other points to remember are as follows:
They can be killers in hot weather, and need to be parked in a shady spot.
They should be faced away from prevailing wind direction
They are great for a broody hen and chicks
With a mesh floor, foxes cant dig in, and they will do less damage to lawn (can still get a green pick though). with no floor, they are great for vege-gardens in letting the chooks have a good scratch.
Constantly moving them to fresh ground will help reduce problems with internal /external parasites building up in a chooks system.

http://home.centurytel.net/thecitychicken/tractors.html is a rather large (not really dialup friendly) gallery page of tractors if you are interested.

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PostPosted: Sun May 13, 2007 10:07 pm 
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Showy Hen
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Location: Melbourne
This is the 2x1 meter A-frame I made for my girlfriend's 3x D'uccles:

Image

Image

Image

*image missing*

In the months since it went into action a few thing have come up that I would change:

1. I'd completely cover over 2/3 of the coop and leave 1/3 open (though still with only the 1/3 enclosed). This is because there have been issues of the food getting wet when it rains. It would also allow the chooks to be out in the open part, yet still with some rain cover. I've now make a rain-proof feeder.

2. The small access hatch into the open area (at the front) is too small and makes it too hard to reach in and get the chooks (they love to get just out of arm's reach). Like the hatch into the roost area, I would make a whole 1/3 side as the opening.

3. Wheels are too thin and small for the soft grass/soil/lawn. Will be replacing with larger rubber 'billy-cart' wheels.

AJ

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Last edited by AaronJ on Mon May 14, 2007 2:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Mon May 14, 2007 7:36 am 
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Old Mother Goose
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That's great AJ..it's suggestions like these that help people decide how they are going to make their own. You've pointed out some good points.
With ours (i've got to take a picture) the end is closed off a bit as our weather down here can jump to three of four different changes in one day. We lift the back lid and pop a board over the door to catch the chooks if we need to. It used to be our rabbit hutch but she died so now I have my pekins in it. But it's too heavy to move and has to have a car axle to drive it I reckon..LOL
Keep them coming guys..

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PostPosted: Mon May 14, 2007 7:04 pm 
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Champion Bird
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My daughter and I built a Linda Woodrow (Permaculture in the Home Garden) designed mobile chook dome which housed our chooks for about a year. We eventually discarded it and moved them to a permanent house. The advantages of the dome were that it fitted our vegie beds so, when moved around the vegie garden mandala, the chooks ate left over crops, de-bugged, fertilised and de-weeded, scratched the soil over and thoroughly prepared it for the next planting. This resulted in some terrific crops. It was also a lovely place to be on a balmy day, with green food and bugs always available. Plus the dome was frequently moved to clean ground, avoiding a build up of manure and parasites. (Our chooks also free ranged, so they weren't confined to the dome.) Unfortunately the disadvantages outweighed the pluses for us: very heavy and unwieldy to move and required two strong people, plus lots of time unfastening the pegs which held down the "skirt" around the edges (a predator safety precaution), the dome is very exposed to weather down low where the chooks are...rain comes in around the edges, sun beats down if not in the shade, wind whistles through the wire mesh. To protect the chooks at night I used to hang tarps/blankets around - very laborious and I was always worried about them being too hot/too cold. I now use the dome (minus tarps and roost and skirt) as a frame over seedling beds to keep out birds. (It's much lighter without the chook paraphernalia). Now the chooks are safe and warm, protected from wind and rain, and they still roam the garden all day in fine weather. Judy

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PostPosted: Mon May 14, 2007 8:14 pm 
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Old Mother Goose
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Hi Judy,
I have heard that about the Linda Woodrow domes.
I reckon if you had one of them you would use it as a day pen only when the weather is fantastic. The night pen being the warmer and cosier place. I'm all for the smaller pens with say 2 to 3 chooks per pen or for mum and babies. BUT I must admit that I have permanent chook pen gardens. My pens are 8metre by 2 metre wide. Covered in chook wire or some have white bird mesh, with a shed at each end. I have two that are like this and the third is covered with bird mesh as a day yard. The other two with the sheds have had chooks in for two years ( long story that one) but have now got the start of a lush vege garden in them.I will post pics in the morning when I get them sorted out.

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PostPosted: Mon May 14, 2007 8:54 pm 
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Old Mother Goose
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Here is a couple of pictures I found on my computer tonight.
Image
This above picture is the pen that used to be the rabbit hutch but is now for the Pekins as Milly the Rabbit died. The pekins have just cleaned up a garden for me. This cage is hopeless to move about as it's super heavy. The back boxed part is weatherboards and roofing iron. So you can imagine the weight in it.

This is a distant view from my kitchen window up the back to my three fenced off permanent pens that are now being used as gardens.
I will get better pictures tomorrow. The foreground is the orchard where the ducks roam in and the white mesh is the first of the three gardens.
Image

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PostPosted: Mon May 14, 2007 10:41 pm 
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Gallant Game
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Hey Darrssy, you wanna put some shade cloth or mosquito netting over that rabbit hutch in the spring to protect it against myxo and calici. They are both down here and flare up regularly...


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PostPosted: Tue May 15, 2007 7:38 am 
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Old Mother Goose
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Hi Simon,
The rabbit is dead so not much point now. I doubt we'll get another one, don't want to risk it with all these chooks we have.

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PostPosted: Tue May 15, 2007 3:00 pm 
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Showy Hen
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Couldn't resist this thread.

Here's one of my chook tractors (before I wired up the run).

Its a large dog kennel that I fixed up. I put a sheet of polystyrene on top of the original wooden roof and a sheet of tin on top of that. Theres a door on the back of the kennel.

There's another wooden frame (not in the picture) that forms the wire roof of the run. This is removable for easy access.

I have two of these kennel setups but I havn't used them yet. I plan to use them for my breeding experiments

Cheers

Image

Image


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PostPosted: Tue May 15, 2007 3:57 pm 
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Old Mother Goose
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Excellent ...Look very similar to my rabbit pen.

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PostPosted: Tue May 15, 2007 4:37 pm 
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Showy Hen
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Yeah mine are very heavy too, so I don't look forward to moving them around.


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PostPosted: Tue May 15, 2007 4:59 pm 
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Showy Hen
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Here's a pic of the tractor I started off using, but I sold it last year. *image missing* I had a tarp over most of it, as the sun up here is the problem rather than the rain! This tractor was real heavy too - I bought it rather than making it, but if I made one, I'd make it a lot lighter, and much much taller - with roosts and nest boxes in the top part, like this one: ( with apologies to whoever the photo belongs to - I forgot to save the webpage!) *link missing*

BTW Darrssy, Is that corn you've got growing on the right? It looks very healthy! I don't have any veg this year... I planted fodder for the chooks and nothings grown, so I've given up until the rain starts again in October. In the meantime I'm concentrating on getting a grey water system set up so we can water the gardens.
Cheers, Richard.


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PostPosted: Tue May 15, 2007 5:25 pm 
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Old Mother Goose
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Yes that is Corn and that was last years crop but we had the same crop this year. different end of that garden.
We have grey water going onto the orchard now. It's fantastic.

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PostPosted: Tue May 15, 2007 7:42 pm 
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Showy Hen
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I hope we can do the same, although we live in the inner suburbs so we don't have an orchard - I'm sure my chooks would love one. At the moment I've got a pipe throwing water on the lawn until I can organise the drip system on the veg beds.


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PostPosted: Tue May 15, 2007 7:53 pm 
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Old Mother Goose
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We have our fruit trees growing on Espalier. It leaves room for other things that way. Perfect for small suburban backyards.

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