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Chicken Tractors , Raising Chickens and Collecting Eggs, Free Range Chickens.
What Is A Chicken Tractor?
If you take a close look at the photo you can see exactly what a chicken tractor is. In the little shed at the one end is two nest boxes at the bottom with a board over them like a shelf and there is a chicken roost above in the top part of the little shed.
What Is A Chicken Tractor?
The reason it is called a chicken tractor is that you can easily pick the chicken coop up and move it around the yard. The one in the picture doesn't have wheels but ideally you would have two wheels on one end so you can more easily move the chicken tractor around. When you get ready to move the chicken tractor the best time is at night after the chickens have gone to roost for the night. If not they will get loose when you raise up the sides to move it.
There is of course no bottom in a chicken tractor though the hen house in can have a bottom and even a door so you can shut the door at night and move the chicken tractor. When the chickens get up in the morning they will be in a new location with new grass, weeds, and insects to eat and enjoy.
Free Range Chickens
With chicken tractors chickens are free ranging as they are on the ground. You can if you wish hang a automatic feeder and a automatic waterier from overhead and go in at night when the chickens go to roost to refill the feed and water. You should have a door on the end opposite the hen house or on one of the sides so you can get in and out easily. Be sure the door is very secure with a lock so people you don't want in the chicken coop won't go in.
While most people build the chicken tractors for egg production you can easily raise chickens for meat in a chicken tractor also. Just be sure to keep the food and water filled and you;ll have to move the chicken tractor more often the more birds you have in the coop.
I love eggs from free range chickens. They have superior flavor over those eggs you but down at your local supermarket. Meat from free range chickens you have raised yourself are much better than the chicken you buy down at the local supermarket. When raising your own chickens for meat you'll have to kill and process your chickens. And if not eating them right away you'll have to preserve the meat by either canning or freezing it.
The one draw back with the roost over the nest box is you will need a roof over the nest boxes so the chicken droppings won't fall down in the nest boxes. Have the roof tilted higher at the front so you can use a hose to spray the roof clean of chicken droppings ever so often. With the roof tilted the droppings will run out the back through the wire and out on the ground.
I currently have two chicken tractors both with laying hens in them now. I have Pearl White Leghorn hens and they produce eggs almost every day in warm months. You can help this along by feeding them laying mash in the spring and early summer and by making sure they always have feed and clean water. If you want your eggs to be fertilized so they will hatch you will also need a rooster in each chicken tractor. He will take care of the hens and I love to hear them crow. If you click the link there you will be taken to the place where I buy all my chickens over the internet.
Advantages Of Chicken Tractors
The advantages of a chicken tractor are that your chickens are free ranging so your eggs and meat from any chickens will be much better. You move the chicken tractor or chicken tractors around so the chickens always have a new supply of weeds, grass, and bugs. Plus it helps to clear the ground and fertilize it to. If you have a lo of room you can put them on different parts of one field one year and on another field the next year. After they have been on a field for a year or more it will be a great place to have a vegetable garden.
Other things to consider when using chicken tractors are that the eggs are laid in the nest boxes so you don't have to spend hours hunting down your eggs. Some egg nests of free ranging chickens can be almost impossible to find. The other thing is that your chickens will be protected from predators. Keep a eye out in case foxes or dogs try to dig under the wire to get at the chickens inside the chicken tractor.
You Can Also Raise Ducks And Other Fowl In Chicken Tractors
I haven't done it yet but I plan on building a big double size chicken tractor this year to use to raise ducks for meat. I'll have food and water automatic feeders hanging in the duck pen and I'll include a kids pool or two so they can bathe and enjoy themselves. I know I will enjoy raising my own free range ducks as I love roast duck. Nothing tastes as good as a free range duck roasted. You also have the advantage that ducks especially well fattened ones have a lot more meat on them.
Monster Chicken Tractor , Gets Moved By Pick Up Truck. This is a really nice Chicken Tractor. This one would be perfect for ducks.
Raising Chickens for Eggs
More Chicken Information
If you are going to be eating the eggs you'll want to collect them and take them in the house and wash them. Just wash them off under cold running water and if you need to wipe them down with a dishcloth. Dry the eggs and put into an egg carton or bowl. I keep mine in the refrigerator but you can store them at room temperature if your going to be using them in the next few days.
Prepare Eggs For Long Term Storage
If you need to store them long term after you wash them let them dry well and then rub the egg down with mineral oil being sure to coat the egg well so no air can get in and the egg will keep for six months or more and the egg will not ruin, and the flavor will not be effected. Store eggs prepared this way in shoe boxes in a cool dry place. Put layers of paper towels between each layer of eggs and date the box on top with the date you put the eggs in the box.
If You Want Baby Chickens
First of all and most important you will need a rooster in the chicken coop to fertilize the eggs so they will hatch. I have a incubator now where I hatch my eggs but if you wish you can do it the old fashioned way and let the hen set on the eggs and hatch them. Once you have a hen start setting mark each of her eggs with a large X with a pencil so if a egg later gets laid in the nest you know to remove it.
When To Move Your Chicken Tractor
The best ideal is to build your chicken tractors hen house with a door you can shut and fasten once the chickens go to roost. You want to put a floor in the hen house. When the chickens go to roost shut and secure the door and then you can with the help of another person pick the chicken tractor up and move it over new ground.Ideally your chicken tractor will have wheels on one end and a board or two extended out on the other side so you can easily pick it up and move it easier. The chickens will love it when they wake up in the morning and realize they have been moved overnight to new ground.
I move my chicken tractors about every two weeks. I never let them clean the ground completely bare. I do one large field with the chicken tractors I have for about a year and then I move the chicken tractors over to a new field and start over. Often after they have been over one field for a year or more I will plow it up and plant a vegetable garden there. I have had some great success with vegetable gardens this way.
Free Range Chickens For Meat.
If you use a chicken tractor to raise free range birds for meat you'll want to be sure the chickens always have access to feed and fresh water and you'll want to be sure their food container always stay full so the chickens will grow faster. Feed them cracked corn to speed their growth along. But remember the more chickens you have in a chicken tractor the more often you will have to move it.
When You Buy Your Chickens
You can check out a great place to buy your chickens at the link below the white chicken above. They have all kinds of chickens and other products. You can order your bids with their beaks already clipped and this is important. You want chickens with their beaks clipped so they will not peck and injure one another. In most parts of the United States you can buy baby chickens but be careful that what you buy are mostly pullets and that they have already had their beaks clipped. If not you will have problems and you don't want problems.
Watch Bringing In Chickens Or Other Fowl From Unknown Sources.
Use care if you buy chickens or other fowl at a sale or from a local farmer. You only want birds that are healthy and disease free. You don't want to bring lice home to your lice free chickens. Some chickens and fowl can have other diseases as well. If your not 100 percent sure that chickens or other fowl are 100 percent healthy don't buy them. Once your chickens are sick or invested with lice its to late. never buy birds that look like they are moulting or that look like their tail feathers are missing. If you do you will have problems.
I Hope You Enjoyed This Hub Page
I hope you enjoyed this hub page on chicken tractors and I hope you have found this information helpful. If you ever have questions, tips, or suggestions please post them below. And thanks for reading my Hub Page On Chicken Tractors. I hope you have a nice day.