A friend of ours delivered this chicken tractor today. It’s part of our mini co-op to raise these 8 little nuggets as a continuing experiment in homesteading and self-sufficiency.
The idea is that you move the chicken tractor to a new spot every 2-3 days so that they don’t completely destroy the land underneath them. If you leave them in place, they’ll eat every blade of grass and leave themselves with little more than a muddy pit. For instance, our 3 hens started out with a chicken run that looked like this:
But they soon devoured their salad bar and turned it into a patch of dirt:
With that in mind, the tractor was built with more lightweight materials and included a rope to pull the whole contraption.
Half of it is covered with a tarp to provide protection from the elements and I was able to hang their water from some of the conduit. Hopefully having it raised off the ground will keep it a little cleaner!
It uses the plastic conduit as ribs and has chicken wire stretched and stapled over that to provide protection from local predators (raccoons, possums, local cats/dogs, Bear Grylls, etc.).
The only thing I’m a little worried about is animals digging under the sides at night. I’ve seen evidence of that with our other chicken coop, but I flared out about a foot of chicken wire at the bottom of that one to make sure they couldn’t get in. I might need to do that to this one as well.
This is plenty of space for 8 meat birds. At approximately 30 square feet, that’s more than double what they actually need to stay relaxed.
And as an after-thought, I think I might be able to re-tool this slightly in the winter to make a hoop house and grow some lettuce or spinach while the snow falls…
This is the prime season for food processing so we have been very busy!
Cucumbers have done really well this year to the point where we were scrambling for ideas of how to process them. I gave pickle relish a try and it seems to have turned out well enough
The carrots surprised us this year. This is the first time we had more than a handful of stunted balls of orange. We blanched and froze some slices and made two batches of soup so far. Mrs. Homesteader had a recipe from when she studied abroad in Spain!
We planted around twenty-five different tomato plants this year and had quite a yield. Last year we did several batches of creamy tomato soup, but this year we’ve opted for simple sauce. The orange Sunburst tomatoes give it an incredible sweetness. We also got our hands on a food mill to make it creamier
The new meat chicks required a lot of hands-on time this week since they’re still small and vulnerable. They stay in the garage under a heat lamp at night while they get to be in the sun pecking at the grass during the day. Soon our chicken tractor will be complete and we can keep them outside as long as it doesn’t get too cold. When they get their feathers, they’ll stay outside 24/7.
We’re hoping to put up the recipes we used for the soups and relish soon. Plenty more to do…stay tuned!
A friend and I decided to try doing some meat chickens over the next couple of months. It’s a fairly low-cost experiment to expand our self-sufficiency and also to have an excuse to build something.
We’re planning on a chicken tractor to house them, which supplies plenty of benefits. I only have an acre of land and it’s in a neighborhood so keeping them contained is a high priority. It also provides sufficient protection from predators like raccoons, possums, and this hawk:
It’s been 2 weeks now and they started out fuzzy and cute:
Since then, they’ve gotten fatter, uglier, and possibly dumber as they move to the next stage as pullets.
Apparently, breeding chickens for rapid growth comes at the expense of intelligence. They regularly knock over their food and poop in their water and that doesn’t stop them from turning around and consuming it…
I’ll keep you updated on their continued growth and stupidification