Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Amazing Chicken Tractor

I'd like to have a chicken tractor! The obvious benefit is fresh eggs, but I want one because I'm a lazy gardener!
It's basically a chicken coop on wheels, or at least moveable. The idea is to build an A frame coop, wrap it in chicken wire, but leave the bottom open to the ground. By leaving the bottom open the chickens are free to do their stuff. Depending on how long I leave the coop (I mean 'tractor') in a particular spot, I can let my chickens do some gardening for me.

The tractor provides the chickens with protection against predators and weather. It also keeps the chickens in one area where they can improve the soil, by scratching and feeding.
Key benefits from chicken tractors are weeding, garden pest control, fertilizer, and food. 
  • Weeding: Weeding occurs as the chickens peck and scratch the soil. This process removes all plant matter, and seeds; thereby, clearing the pen of current and future weeds. The soil stays relatively weed free for about 2-4 months.
  • Pest Control: The chickens will eat insects and their larvae that find their way into the pen. They also consume diseased plant residue.
  • Fertilizer: Chicken manure is a great fertilizer for your soil which is able to supply the nitrogen needs of a small garden. Phosphorus, and potassium found in their feed, are also in their manure. The soil is ready for planting in two weeks after moving the chickens to a new location. The waiting period is necessary so the excess nitrogen can bind with carbon in the soil otherwise you will burn your new plants. This initial nitrogen burn also helps clear the plot of weeds.
  • Food: The hens will supply you with a steady stream of eggs.

You could make it taller and raise the nest boxes, if you wanted to.

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