Chicken Tractor Plan

By making a chicken tractor, your your chickens can weed and cultivate your garden organically all summer long.

This year you can have a weed-free garden, fertilize, and cultivate all at the same time and do it organically. The most work involved will be moving your chicken tractor around the garden and transporting the chicken laborers to and fro in the morning and evening.

WHAT IS A CHICKEN TRACTOR?

A chicken tractor is a portable hutch that you can easily move about in the garden. If you make it the width of the space between rows, you can start at one end of the row and move along to the end as the chickens do their job. Chickens are very efficient at digging up plants and catching bugs but if you let them loose in the garden they will eat everything, weeds and tomatoes.

Construct your chicken tractor from 2" x 2" lumber and chicken wire. It should not be more than three or four feet long and about three feet high. Do not put mesh on the bottom of the tractor, the chickens need to be able to get to the soil. You can make your tractor fancy by including a door in the side to get the chickens in and out easier but this is not really necessary. Do take the time to make it sturdy, however, so that the chickens are securely confined. An old piece of canvas or burlap can be tacked over the top to give the chickens shade. Always provide a pan of water for the chickens. This can be loose or attached to the tractor.



"DRIVING" THE TRACTOR

Put the tractor in the garden where you want the soil to be cultivated and weeds removed. Add the chicken workers, at least three large ones or several banties. The more chickens you put in the tractor, the faster the job will be done. Don't over-crowd. A little experience and experimentation should soon reveal the optimum chicken-power for the size of your tractor.

The first time you use the tractor, you will have to watch it closely to determine how often it will need to be moved. Once you get a feel for how long it takes your chickens to clear an area, you will be able to go away and leave them alone to do their labor. Just don't forget about them. Chickens who have removed all edible weeds and bugs from their available space will soon start squabbling amongst themselves. They will also excavate large depressions for dust bathing. You will want to discourage this sort of behavior and encourage good work ethics in your chickens.

THE ADVANTAGES OF CHCKEN-POWER

Chickens are very efficient at cultivating soil with their sharp-clawed feet, this action comes naturally to them. While they are digging up everything green they will also be catching bugs and leaving deposits of nitrogen-rich manure. The digging and scratching will incorporate this manure in the soil, so that it will not be laying around on the surface.

Your chickens will benefit from all the greens and fresh bugs they harvest while working in the tractor. This will keep them contented and you should get more and better eggs. You will also save money on chicken feed, which is not really cheap anymore! The more free food your chickens eat, they less expensive they are to keep.

Letting chickens work the garden does not involve the use of pesticides or herbicides and is a wonderful organic solution to these problems.

TURNING OFF THE TRACTOR

Remove the chickens from the tractor at the end of the day and carry them back to their coop for the night. Never leave chickens out all night in a tractor. These portable hutches are so light weight that it will be easy for varmints to tip the tractor over to get to your stalwart chicken employees. You will discover your chickens in small bits and pieces in the morning, it there is anything left but feathers. Chickens like to be in their favorite roost at night. If they are in a strange place it will affect their egg laying, even if raccoons or foxes do not get them.

A FEW REMINDERS

Always provide shade for chicken workers and lots of fresh water. Cultivating can be hot and thirsty work on a summer day, even for chickens. Remember to check on the progress of the work during the day and move the tractor to a fresh place in the garden. If you are attentive, your chickens will keep the garden weed-free and cultivated all season long. Oh, chickens have not yet figured out that this is work, so don't let on and you will not have to pay them!

© High Speed Ventures 2011