New chicks for the chicken tractor; new skills for April
Wednesday, April 8, 2009 at 10:22PM
Burke Sisco in backyard chickens, chicken tractor, hen ark, hen arks, local food, organic eggs, sankofa

Since last night was probably the last freeze of the season, my daughter April and I put pullets in the new chicken tractor today. We've been keeping them inside under a heat lamp for the last three weeks since we got them from the breeder.

The photos illustrate the functionality of the tractor. It fits within the garden rows we've created. With the open bottom the chickens will eat all the weeds and scratch around for bugs, all the while dropping that high-nitrogen poop about that makes such good fertilizer. Every other day we'll move the tractor down the row one tractor length. Pretty soon they'll have the garden tilled up and ready to plant.

The mottled black and white chicken is an easter-egger and will lay pastel colored eggs in hues of green, blue, and pink. Regardless of the color, they'll be organic and good eatin'.

So April gets some practical education in localized food production as part of her home school curriculum. I hope these will be good skills that will prepare her for our changing world. [In addition to bow-hunting and computer hacking skills, says April, the Napolean Dynamite fan].

If you're handy with tools and want to build a chicken tractor just like this one, you can order plans online here.

Folks who don't have the time or skills to build their own and live within the metro Atlanta area can get a sturdy, hand-crafted chicken tractor like this for $450. You can even get it delivered for a small additional fee.

Update on Saturday, April 11, 2009 at 06:45PM by Registered CommenterBurke Sisco

A couple shots of the girls:

The cable attached to the hinged ramp allows it to be raised and lowered. When the sun goes down the chickens instinctively retreat up into the apex of the a-frame to roost. The ramp can then be raised to shut them in for the night, making them secure from animals that might try to get at them. The tractor can also be more easily moved to a new location while they are contained in the roosting area.

When the the ramp is lowered during daylight hours the side of the roof with the handles can be removed to allow for cleaning of the roosting area.

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