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What is a Chicken Tractor and Why Do We Use It?

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Living on a farm for 11 years, I sometimes forget that some don't know what I'm talking about when I mention a chicken tractor.  I like to keep things as simple as possible here on the homestead, and a chicken tractor goes right along with my philosophy!  So, here it goes.

A chicken tractor is basically a small, movable chicken coop.  Some are bigger with floors and are put on trailers that are pulled by tractors. The chickens are let out to forage as seen in this picture below.

Most chicken tractors are small coops with no floor.  They are light enough to move around by one person.  There are so many chicken tractor plans that are simple and cheap to build.  I encourage you to look at Pinterest and type in 'chicken tractor' and you will see so many ideas.

So why do we use a chicken tractor?  Two reasons, basically.

1.  To keep our meat chickens contained, yet able to forage on fresh grass and weeds which makes for a healthier bird to eat.

2.  To fertilize the pasture, garden or wherever nutrients is needed.

I wish I had taken pictures of where our chicken tractor was after a month or so of moving the chickens around.  We have sandy soil and could actually see a 10 foot wide strip of greener, plusher grass wherever that tractor went.  Chicken manure is one of the best manures to use as fertilizer.  It is normally higher in nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, calcium and magnesium than cow, horse or pig manure.  Take a look at this chart below from Agrarian Analysis.

Not only do we use a chicken tractor for meat chickens, we also put old hens in there and utilize their manure.  They don't lay and sometimes we don't have time to butcher them, so at least they are put to good use.  We usually use old hens in the fall and even mild winters to move around the dormant garden or pasture that is not in use.  They also do a good job at slightly plowing up the soil.

Instead of buying fertilizer, we use what we have and it works better!  My husband and son just built this chicken tractor pictured below.  They used 2x2s, some strong chicken wire that was given to us by someone my husband works with, and the heavy duty siding was something he picked up from work.

Yes, that is a turkey wanting in the tractor.

No, those aren't stuffed animal puppies in the background, they are real fluffballs.

Because this tractor has many open sides, we will partially cover it with heavy duty tarp to keep the chickens warmer.

Our old chicken tractor has been around for a few years and has taken quite a beating, thus the need for a new one.  To build, it costs around $40, mostly from the wood which costs $38.  Compare that along with the chicken feed expenses(depending on how many chickens are in the tractor) to the cost of buying fertilizer for a big garden or pasture and you will more than likely come out on top.  Plus, using what we have to sustain our farm is much more rewarding!

Did you know you can use essential oils on chickens?  If you are ready to take charge of your health for man and beast, go HERE!

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