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Unattended chicken tractor

 
Milan Broz
Posts: 87
Location: Croatia
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Don't know anything about keeping chickens, but idea of chicken tractor in orchard keeps occupying my mind. The problem is that is usually an unattended setup. Orchard is far from my living space. Due to my working schedule I often fly away for couple of days, or more. Area is inaccessible during winter when we have a lot of snow, what can last up to 3-4 months. Are this reasons to give up a chicken tractor?

What are the needs of a chickens? Do they need a space to run, or they can live a happy lives in a CT? What kind of accomodation they need during one year? Do they spend a winter in some small house, like nesting box, or they prefer to play out in the snow? Is chicken tractor alone enough to keep them safe and happy during winter, or I should build also a bigger, warmer house that can be connected with tractor? In that case I could push a tractor against this house before winter, open door and let chicken choose where she wants to be. I know I would have to provide some automatic system for drinking water, what else has to be automatized if I'm gone for 2-3 weeks, or whole winter?

Are bears usually interested in chickens? I have around bears, wolfs, foxes, and some birds of prey, don't know which. I can build structure that is fox or bird proof, but bear proof is kind a tricky
 
Tyler Ludens
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Because you will be away for days or even weeks at a time, I don't think chickens will work for you in the orchard. Chickens need daily care.
 
Morgan Morrigan
Posts: 1400
Location: Verde Valley, AZ.
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everything likes chicken for dinner. including rats and weasels.

They are not subject to cold tho, just drafts. read up on open air chicken houses. can't make em bear proof tho....

 
Evelyn Smith
Posts: 15
Location: Rice WA Zone 6
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Would a solar electric fence discourage
a bear From their chicken tractor?
Just a thought.
Also leaving them unattended for very long would
Cause health concerns cause of their pee/poop.
Even if you could keep their water running and food clean.
 
Milan Broz
Posts: 87
Location: Croatia
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Neighbor is keeping bees, and electric fence is keeping bears away. He said that bear once tried to break fence (he found some damage) bus was distracted and probably never tried again.

I can see it is quite tricky to have chicken tractor without regular maintenance. Maybe it would have to be big, but then it would not be a tractor at all, it would be a big cage. Maybe if I decide to grow brambles, I would have to make rows of fences that can also be used as a coridores for chicken. All area fenced, all rows closed except one. Chicken can use it, hopefuly they would weed it. Once it gets a bit dirty, it's closed and next row is opened. When I expect to leave for a long time, like winter time, I open all rows and they can use quite a big playground. Then I would only need to provide them a night shelter with automatic watering and feeding system? Are chicks compatibile with blackberry/raspberry?
 
Tyler Ludens
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If you have predators such as foxes, you need to close the chickens into a secure shelter at night. To do this you have to actually be there, or have someone else do it for you.
 
Ute Chook
Posts: 39
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Tyler Ludens wrote:If you have predators such as foxes, you need to close the chickens into a secure shelter at night. To do this you have to actually be there, or have someone else do it for you.


... or use a automatic door opener/closer (they respond to light levels).

But I think it's very important to check on livestock daily. Things can (and will) go wrong.
If a feeder or waterer jammed, malfunctioned or whatever, the poor critters would die miserable deaths.
Best to have someone check once a day in exchange for eggs, meat, or payment.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Ute Chook wrote:
... or use a automatic door opener/closer (they respond to light levels).


Some of my chickens stubbornly and unpredictably decide to stay out later some evenings than others. I guess the automatic system might work if one is willing to lose a few birds.
 
John Polk
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About the only livestock I know of that can be left to fend for themselves a couple of days are compost worms.

 
R.D. O'Brien
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I've been thinking about building bird houses to attract birds that will eat caterpillars but not orchard fruit. Wrens, bluebirds, don't know of any others yet, but these wouldn't need too much attention on your part. Personally, I think chickens are a shackle, and I'm not a big egg and meat eater anyway. Anyone got any ideas what kind of wild birds would benefit an orchard?
 
wayne stephen
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I have 13 chickens and 3 turkeys left in one medium sized pen right now and it needs to be moved daily . The ground is eaten , packed , scratched , and pooped on . even a second day on that spot would be unhealthy. These are only babies too , layers would most definitely need moving daily. I keep my layers in a coop that we close at night and let them free range daily. I can not recommend this since predation is a big loss factor. If you don,t get the door locked right at sunset trouble will show. During the day domestic dogs , large hawks are a factor. Coons , possums , foxes , coyotes at night. My birds do free range during winter - they fare well - and find food under dense leaf piles but require more and complete feed - during summer I only supplement with small amount of
grain. Where I plan to go in the future is with the paddock system that Paul has been promoting . I am finding that establishing perrenial plant guilds and herb spirals etc is too hard fighting off chickens digging it all up . A movable coop and electric poultry netting is my next venture. I will keep the tractor for raising chicks though , they get eaten by everything.
 
J D Horn
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R.D. O'Brien wrote:I've been thinking about building bird houses to attract birds that will eat caterpillars but not orchard fruit. Wrens, bluebirds, don't know of any others yet, but these wouldn't need too much attention on your part. Personally, I think chickens are a shackle, and I'm not a big egg and meat eater anyway. Anyone got any ideas what kind of wild birds would benefit an orchard?


Purple martin is a great insectivore.
 
John Polk
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If you want to build some birdhouses, here is a site that has specifications & plans for a wide variety of species. By using certain designs & entrance sizes, you can include/exclude various species. They have most of the info you would need.

http://nestwatch.org/learn/nest-box-resource-center/nest-box-construction-plans/

 
Jordan Lowery
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Don't build birdhouses plant birdhouses. Know your local birds and mimic where they like to live. I dont have a single birdhouse but hundrelds of birds live in the trees, shrubs, and thickets.
 
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