by Hunter Eastis
First, let’s get something out of the way: chickens can’t drive tractors. They don’t have thumbs. I know, I’m as disappointed as you are. Despite the misleading name, the “Chicken Tractors” are actually pretty cool. Chicken tractors are small, mobile chicken coops with open floors and closed sides. They are designed in such a way that they can be easily relocated every few days. These coops can provide several soil enhancing benefits while providing creative solutions to many common problems in the garden.
Best utilized in gardens that employ crop rotation or green manure strategies, chicken tractors can also be put to good use in smaller urban areas. These roving coops, usually built as a type of sled, can provide several useful advantages:
• Insect control
• Weed control
• Healthy, natural chicken feed
The open bottom design of the roving chicken coop allows the birds to forage freely on the area beneath the structure. By feeding on grubs, pupae, eggs and adult insects both current and future pest populations are reduced. As the chickens forage on seeds from the vegetation, weeds are also kept in check (both in the short and long term). While this diet must still be supplemented with regular chicken feed, it does account for a good portion of their required nutrition. This method allows you to raise chickens in a free-range type environment.
The ability to move the chicken tractor every few days not only provides the birds with new, fresh foraging areas; it also deposits a specific amount of high quality, organic fertilizer in each one of the areas. Small chicken tractors can be placed between rows of vegetables and moved each day. Larger designs contribute to the cleaning and fertilizing of fields before they are prepared. These coops can even be used to keep a laying flock in a small backyard.
Chicken tractors are an effective, easy way to keep chickens in any space while providing them high quality feed, in addition to providing your land with organic weed and pest control as well as organic fertilizer. If you are interested in learning more about chicken tractors or would like a consultation about this method call, SustainaScapes today 205-500-7405.