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Old 07-18-2010, 02:08 PM   #1
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Default Chicken and turkeys and guinneas oh my!

If there's anyone out there thinking of raising some chickens or turkeys... you gotta see this guy's tractors! This is totally genius. His chickens get to scratch around in the grass for bugs and when they've wiped out an area.... he just scoots the tractor forward to a new spot. He must scoot them every coupla days and my bet is by the time he's moved them about 5 times.... he can move them back to their original spot and start scooting them again since the grass woulda grown back and it'd be filled with big fat juicy bugs again. Is anyone doing this and how's it working for you?
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Old 07-18-2010, 09:53 PM   #2
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I haven't done this myself, but I know folks who have. Part of the beauty of the system is that the chickens aerate the soil with their scratching and fertilize it with their droppings. It's a really wonderful design.
Also, regarding the title, I don't think it would work with guinea fowl or turkeys so well. I know little about turkeys but I know that guinea fowl tend to cover a lot of ground throughout the day. They also are fond of chasing each other at very high speeds. The tractors would inhibit this behavior severely. Also, Guineas really like to eat ticks, so you want them to have full access to your property. They're very effective at keeping the tick population down. They also are much less destructive to garden plants than chickens are. Unless, of course, they decide to hatch some keets in there.
Chicken and turkeys and guinneas oh my!-keets-144.jpg
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Old 07-18-2010, 10:18 PM   #3
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I haven't done this myself either but my girlfriend took me to this guy's house to show me his "operation" and we never could catch him home so I looked around on my own and watched his birds and realized this is about the best set up I've ever seen for all but the coldest months of the year but then.... I don't think these are egg layers and they're probably all tucked away neatly in his deep freeze by the time the snow starts swirling to the ground. I was really excited when I figured out what his game plan was with these tractors and you just confirmed it. This guy wouldn't even need a hen house for meat birds. The scootable tractors are all he'd need. I only added guinneas to the title since he had some in the last tractor. They're sleek and handsome birds and tick eating would be a bonus but..... you forgot to mention they're loud.... as in REALLY loud if I could hear them. I want chickens for me but just egg layers and I'm going for a chicken coop not a tractor. Guinneas are way too noisy for the neighbors I've got and if I did turkeys I'd have to name them Dinner1 Dinner2 Dinner3 and well.... you get the point. I neeeeeed to start out slowly with animals that aren't destined to be wrapped in white freezer paper. Cute photo you've got. Do you have free ranging guinneas at the farm?
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Old 07-18-2010, 10:36 PM   #4
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Yes they do, and you're right, they are loud. It's amazing what you can get used to, though, but they're not for folks who have neighbors at close quarters. I've seen chicken coops and tractors with one or two guineas each in them. They're very social creatures and if for some reason, they can't attach with a flock of their own, they'll hang with the chickens. I seem to remember reading that they occasionally interbreed as well, with the offspring being sterile. That may be true or a misremembered fact, so don't quote me.
Oh, also, when they molt, you get some absoluttely beautiful feathers.
Dan
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Old 08-06-2011, 03:46 PM   #5
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Just an update.... I did a chicken coop AND a chicken tractor. I've got a little chick playpen too but it's not mine.... it's borrowed. My tractor's not done yet but here's a photo of as far as we got on it. I like the chicken tractor because soon as the babies are at 3 weeks.... it's not so critical keeping em under lights 24/7 so they can be moved outa my house and into a stock tank on our porch with a heat bulb for another coupla weeks. From there..... I can move em into the chicken tractor to get them used to the outdoors then they can get moved into the coop if they're layers or stay put. I can use the chicken tractor for meat birds that I'll pick up as day old chicks in spring and they'd be big enough to go to freezer camp in late fall so they'd never have to be stuck in the coop with the layers where they'd have protection from the elements. The other thing that's really neat about my tractor is it fits between my raised veggie beds so I can scoot it up 8' on the wheels every day to new grass between the beds where it's hard to mow with the riding lawn mower. So far.... so good. It's working great and we don't have to mow between the raised veggie beds.
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When we get time..... we're gonna add a little 4'x3' covered area to the tractor on the side that doesn't have wheels. So far no time to finish it but it's working fine for what we're doing this year as is.

adding... that photo was taken before we had to reinforce it so we could stop the mink from getting in and ripping our chicks's heads off. There's photos somewhere of the reinforcements we made but I forgot where.
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Last edited by Equilibrium; 08-06-2011 at 03:49 PM. Reason: adding comment
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Old 08-08-2011, 05:56 PM   #6
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Looking good! Once you add the shade roof they'll be all set for whatever nature brings on.
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Old 09-12-2011, 02:30 PM   #7
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While poking around online I ran into this on dimensions for chicken tractors from the Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems, Raising poultry on pasture (Research Brief #57)|Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems. They’re suggesting a 10’x12’ chicken tractor for “75 to 100 three- to four-week old meat chickens in movable pens during the growing season.” That’s big time crowding IMHO. I had 10 12-week olds in a 4’ x 8’ movable pen and was feeling guilt I ran out of time this year building the 3’ x 4’ roofed area to mine which… would have expanded my tractor to 4’ x 11’. They did state chickens “pastured” this way were butchered and sold at 8-14 weeks but…. that’s still only 1.6 sq feet per bird if they’ve got 75 in the tractor and 1.2 sq feet per bird if they’ve got 100 birds and… I can’t see where this type of tractor could be moved by 1 person alone even if it had wheels…. too blasted heavy even for a man I'd think and it’d tear up the lawn. 10’ x 12’ just doesn’t seem like enough for them to stretch and run around to me. I’d think 2 sq feet should be the minimum with 3 sq feet per bird being optimal…. large fowl meat chicks can get pretty big by 12 weeks of age... mine did.... they were pushing 5lbs each when I took them in for processing.
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Old 03-23-2012, 09:10 AM   #8
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Talkin’ Bout My Chicken Tractor
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The Deliberate Agrarian: Talkin’ Bout My Chicken Tractor
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Many people who visit this blog know what a chicken tractor is, and some even have one or more of them. For those who don’t know, a chicken tractor is a moveable cage for chickens. The cage has a top and sides but no bottom—it sets directly on the ground and is moved every day to a fresh patch of grass. The idea behind a chicken tractor is that the birds can supplement their grain ration with fresh greens and bugs and worms and stones for their gizzards. They also get plenty of fresh air and sunshine. Birds raised in a chicken tractor get all the good things that industrial chickens—those raised by the millions in factory farms—do not get. As a result, the quality of a harvested factory bird pales in comparison to that of a properly raised chicken-tractor bird.

I built myself a chicken tractor eight years ago and I have used it to raise birds for my family every season since then. Two years ago, I built a second tractor. Based on my experience and observations, I believe the perfect chicken tractor should meet several key requirements. It should be…
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Old 04-27-2012, 03:28 PM   #9
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For jack or anyone else thinking about chickens as a source of fertilizer or eggs or whatever…. our tractor is technically a traveling cage but… it can’t be used over veggie beds as I’d originally intended. I’d think that in order for a light weight chicken tractor to be fully functional…. the area in which you’re raising chickens would have to be virtually devoid of predators and veggie beds would have to be level with the ground planted with all low growing plants. Chicken tractors built to withstand mink or coyote attacks are going to be HEAVY…. they’ll have a 2x6 frame and there’s no way anyone’s lifting our chicken tractor up and onto the frame of a veggie bed and I’m no light weight…. I move 50# bags of feed by myself. Our tractor can be moved all over the yard on level ground though as it’s on wheels but… not even 2 people could get it off the ground and over a bed. Now… a light weight pvc framed tractor with some height to it could be rolled into place over a raised veggie bed but…. it wouldn’t be strong enough to protect any birds inside… that would be the trade off. Mink can and will rip chicken wire that isn’t secured properly off a frame to get access and coyote will use their paws to dig under and into a tractor or they’ll use their teeth to chew up the pvc frames, Poultry People.... need help (thread had graphic photo). The reinforcements added even more weight to our tractor.
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We’ve had problems with rabbits and deer so we have stakes in the corners of our raised beds around which chicken wire has been wrapped so those stakes woulda been another stumbling block to even a light weight tractor with height beyond 3’ to it but…. there’s a plus side to em. This year…. I’m going for some “pestiferous” bugs. Our goils can all be handled so I’ll just pick up 2 and put them in a raised bed with our cole crops and I’ll drape fruit tree netting over the top. Our cole crops are hit the worst by cabbage moths but I don’t need to be losing any more birds to hawks and we’ve got hawks all over the place. Toward the end of the day…. I’ll be able to pick up my goils and walk em back to the tractor or the chicken run for protection from the night crew. Just an FYI…. chicken poops have to be composted for at least a year like horse manure before you use them or they’ll burn your plants…. they’re not like rabbit poops that can be used hot off the press. A few chickens in a raised bed for a day or so won’t be a problem but longer than that and I’d think we’d start losing plants…. chickens have killer poops and when they run out of bugs they’ll start scratching the ground looking for bugs and eating the leaves of your veggies!!! Chickens can uproot any plant if given enough time and they’ll eat just about anything.... even mice that venture into the coop or frogs that end up in the run. If you’ve ever seen a “gang” of hens go after a mouse…. I can tell you you’d flip out. They’re like little feathered savages and they’ll peck it clean to the bone too.
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Our chicken run is like about 50’ x 100’ which is “generous” and it has a critter proof coop for them to roost in overnight but…. the tractor is actually more practical if you’ve got young birds or only a few birds total. By about 6 weeks of age chicks should be out in the fresh air yet they’re too young for a main chicken run with older birds so a tractor is ideal. Chickens do have a pecking order and you wouldn’t want a 3 or 4 mos old up against a group of 1 year + birds…. they wouldn’t stand a chance.
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Old 04-27-2012, 05:54 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Equilibrium View Post
Just an update.... I did a chicken coop AND a chicken tractor. I've got a little chick playpen too but it's not mine.... it's borrowed. My tractor's not done yet but here's a photo of as far as we got on it. I like the chicken tractor because soon as the babies are at 3 weeks.... it's not so critical keeping em under lights 24/7 so they can be moved outa my house and into a stock tank on our porch with a heat bulb for another coupla weeks. From there..... I can move em into the chicken tractor to get them used to the outdoors then they can get moved into the coop if they're layers or stay put. I can use the chicken tractor for meat birds that I'll pick up as day old chicks in spring and they'd be big enough to go to freezer camp in late fall so they'd never have to be stuck in the coop with the layers where they'd have protection from the elements. The other thing that's really neat about my tractor is it fits between my raised veggie beds so I can scoot it up 8' on the wheels every day to new grass between the beds where it's hard to mow with the riding lawn mower. So far.... so good. It's working great and we don't have to mow between the raised veggie beds.
--
When we get time..... we're gonna add a little 4'x3' covered area to the tractor on the side that doesn't have wheels. So far no time to finish it but it's working fine for what we're doing this year as is.

adding... that photo was taken before we had to reinforce it so we could stop the mink from getting in and ripping our chicks's heads off. There's photos somewhere of the reinforcements we made but I forgot where.
very nice! Wish I had this, had to spend a few hundred today getting a small coop and run so my mommy broody and chicks have a safe place to go.
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aerate, chicken, chicken coop, chicken tractor, chickens, coop, egg, eggs, feather, feathers, fertilize, fertilizer, guinnea, guinnea hen, guinneas, keets, layer, soil, sustainability, tractor, turkey, turkeys

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