The making of a chicken tractor - NSW Australia - september 2008 (PP)
Firstly, what is a chicken tractor ?
Its a mobile chicken home (a large cage resting on a
frame) which we can move around as needed. It is used to preparethe land for future planting or for the
maintenance of an already existing orchard.
If we are preparing the ground for future planting, the
tractor will stay in one spot for a period of 4-6 weeks (depending on thetype of chickens you have, how many you
have, the size of your chicken tractor and the type of land it is on) and then
be moved to a new area. If it is simply a question of land maintenance, 1 week
will be enough (depending again on conditions).
The tractor doesn’t have a bottom , it is open to the
ground, so that the chickens can scratch around, thus aerating the soil,
eliminating weeds and grasses and mixing all organic matter together (plant,
hay,chicken manure, feathers…)
and fertilizing the area. At the same time they get to eat lots of different
types of insects, becoming a very effective natural predatory solution for a
healthy orchard. The chickens helps to break the lifecycle of harmful insects
by eating the larvae which are in the rotting fruit lying on the ground.
for the comfort of your chickens :
Firstly, don’t put too many chickens in the tractor.
Depending on the species of chicken, 4 for the larger one and a dozen for the
smaller species, that is to say, in a tractor of 3m by 2 m.
It’s important to provide shelter against regular and
prevailing winds. It is ideal that at least ½ the tractor is covered by a tarp
(coveringthe top, sides and back)
and that the tractor is positioned correctly depending on the prevailing winds.
Chickens need clean water, regular grain (bought, or even
better, grown on your land).
If grains are grown on the land, they are given to the
chickens as whole plants which then become mulch which decomposes in the
tractor. If bought grain is given, it is a good idea to also put mulch down
(15/20cm) over the whole surface of the tractor so as keep the functioning of
the tractor optimum. Without the mulch the chickens can have a destructive
impact on the soil.
recycled cupboard or container will serve as a laying pen, and perches placed
here and there allows the chickens to sleep happily and in good conditions.