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Soil conditioning with chicken tractors

 
pollinator
Posts: 130
Location: Spain
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Hi,
I remember having come across, a few years ago, a method to condition the soil where trees (or actually a food forest) will be planted, by growing grass and rotating a chicken dome for a few months.
Does anyone know where can I find a description of this methodology? Or has anyone in this forum tried it? With what result, in what climate/soil type/etc.
I think Geoff Lawton popularized this....but can't find any specific article (am probably not using the right search keyword?).
Cheers
 
gardener
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Location: Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
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The use of chicken tractors for soil improvement is only one part of the cycling of livestock through areas as part of the natural cycle of trample, manure, graze and move on.
The full method is to start with the largest animals in a paddock setup, once the largest animals have been on a plot for a day they are moved on and the next largest animals are moved in, the last group to be moved through is the chickens, then the plot is rested until it comes back into the rotation a month or two later.
There is an experiment going on now in Africa where they are using cattle then sheep to improve the soils of all the ranch, the results so far are showing that prairies are indeed revitalized when the natural movement of large herds is reinstated.
The gentleman doing this experiment is in the third year and the area of his ranch as improved 1000 percent so far with grasses reestablishing and more water being retained. He moves 1000 head of cattle every day onto new 10 acre spaces, he has the ranch set up into 75 of these 10 acre grazing plots.

Redhawk
 
Antonio Scotti
pollinator
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Thanks Bryant.
Unfortunately I may not possibly run larger than chickens animals on this site. Also the site is quite small, less than 2000 m2.
 
Bryant RedHawk
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Antonio, that really wouldn't be as big a problem as it sounds since the only thing you would be missing is the trampling portion of the equation.

Chickens can be used to great effect (Joel S. has done it with great success, as have others). With less than 2000m2 you could divide the space into 4 equal plots and rotate the chooks through each of the plots.
The only trick might be to determine quickly just how long you can leave them on one plot and still have enough recovery time for the grasses to regrow enough that the scratching and so on would not destroy the root system of the grasses.
If you were to see brown spots appearing, you can flush the nitrogen down with watering, either with a hose or buckets or watering can.
Having too much nitrogen would be the only thing to watch out for.

Redhawk
 
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