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logistics of using hens from a run in a tractor

 
S Carreg
Posts: 260
Location: De Cymru (West Wales, UK)
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Our hens live in a large enclosed run that is about 100 meters or so from the veg garden, down a hill, stairs, and around several corners. I cannot free range them for various reasons. However I want to use their services ocassionally in a tractor. I have built a chicken-wire ark. Can I put this ark in the garden, then scoop up a couple of hens from the run - maybe in a cardboard box, carry them up to the garden, pop them in the ark, let them hang out there for the day, and then carry them back to the run in the evening? They are very chilled in their run, but they don't exactly do what I want them do (ie, you can't drive them). Would this approach work? It's relatively small areas I want them to till up for me in the garden so I would only be doing this every so often.
 
John Elliott
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You can't drive them, but they will follow you. Especially if you have a little cup full of corn and they learn that the shaking sound means -- food!

Whenever I let my chickens out of their tractor, they stay close by me, to see if I am going to kick up any bugs or turn over a board with a lot of slugs under it. They would probably follow me a hundred meters just to see what I was doing. When I really want to have chicken roll call, or when it is time to go back in the tractor I shake the cupful of corn and they are immediately underfoot. I lift one end of the tractor and set it on a 5 gallon bucket, toss the corn inside, and after they run in, I can let the tractor back down.
 
S Carreg
Posts: 260
Location: De Cymru (West Wales, UK)
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Thank you. They definitely follow me around the run when I go in there to feed them, get eggs, clean up. I'm just a bit nervous because it's such a long way from the run to the garden, that they would find something more interesting and wander off to investigate.
 
John Elliott
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Little drips and drabs of food definitely get their attention, should they start to wander. I would start out with little forays at first and then build up to the whole 100 meters. I once tried to get them to follow me about 250m to the neighbor's chicken coop where I was going to board them for a holiday weekend, but it was totally new territory and they got spooked/distracted after about 200m and we had to pick them up and carry them the rest of the way.

But chickens are creatures of habit, and if you make little changes every day in their habit, soon they will know exactly what you are opening the door for and what is expected of them.
 
S Carreg
Posts: 260
Location: De Cymru (West Wales, UK)
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Thanks again. I will see if I can start taking them on shorter 'walks' maybe.

The original plan was to use the ducks for garden duty. They are in a separate run, also some way from the garden but in a straighter line. The plan was for them to stay there but a few times a week when I was working in the garden, to be driven into the garden to free-range for slugs. We haven't done this yet because they are very 'flighty' - about 9 months old, and still flappy and flighty, and I'm afraid if they went wandering off they would get to the river and then bye-bye ducks. Even though we feed them twice a day they still get in a total panic when they see us and go flapping around, so I don't think they'd follow us that well. The chickens are definitely more friendly, well the older ones anyway, and more cheeky about coming to get food from us, so we may be able to get them to follow us as you suggest - I will give it a try!
 
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