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Chicken Tractor for garden rows?

 
ryan112ryan McCoy
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I have to confess, I do garden in rows for some of my garden, but it is what it is.

I came up with this idea of having a chicken tractor slightly smaller than the width of my rows.  I could drop some of my chickens in (I have a larger chicken tractor) and they could eat all the weeds, then scoot it a few feet.  Now granted this will only work for a while until things really take off, but at that point weeds will have a lot of competition making it harder on them. 

Has anyone done this?  Does it work well?  Know website that talk about this?  More info?
 
                                          
Posts: 95
Location: Ferndale, MI- Zone 5b
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at the very least it seems worthy of an experiment.
 
Kathleen Sanderson
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Location: Near Klamath Falls, Oregon
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You can put chickens on beds that are fallow or have been harvested and aren't replanted yet, but don't put them on anything that has been planted.  Even if they don't eat your seeds (and they probably will), they will move them all over the place as they scratch around.  And they will definitely eat the young plants as fast as they sprout.

Kathleen
 
ryan112ryan McCoy
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Kathleen Sanderson wrote:
You can put chickens on beds that are fallow or have been harvested and aren't replanted yet, but don't put them on anything that has been planted.  Even if they don't eat your seeds (and they probably will), they will move them all over the place as they scratch around.  And they will definitely eat the young plants as fast as they sprout.

Kathleen


I just have rows in the ground, no beds.  What I am talking about is running the tractor between the rows of plants with a tractor just smaller than the distance between the plants.  This way they can't reach the plants, but can eat the weeds, scratch the soil up and poop fertilizes. 
 
Kathleen Sanderson
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Location: Near Klamath Falls, Oregon
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That sounds like a reasonable plan, then.

Kathleen
 
Allan. Sterbinsky
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Location: Tennessee
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ryan112ryan wrote:
I have to confess, I do garden in rows for some of my garden, but it is what it is.

I came up with this idea of having a chicken tractor slightly smaller than the width of my rows.  I could drop some of my chickens in (I have a larger chicken tractor) and they could eat all the weeds, then scoot it a few feet.  Now granted this will only work for a while until things really take off, but at that point weeds will have a lot of competition making it harder on them. 

Has anyone done this?  Does it work well?  Know website that talk about this?  More info?


I tried that approach with broilers for the past two years.  Down south, it is so hot, the plants in the rows kept the breezes from cooling the chicken tractor and the chickens got overheated.  I had to move the tractors into the shade with lots of space for the winds to blow.  Granted, the past two years have been REALLY hot down south. Perhaps some summers it won't be too hot for the tractor between garden rows idea.  Maybe you live in a place where it won't be too hot and humid or your idea to be successful.

 
                        
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I put nylon netting around my raised beds (some people use net curtains from Good Will) by clothespinning it to hoops.  Then the chickens can run completely free in the garden, and cant get into the beds.  It works great! 
 
Joel Hollingsworth
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Location: Oakland, CA
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Here's an account of this method, with some of the practical considerations discussed in detail:

http://livingthefrugallife.blogspot.com/2010/10/poultry-schooner-in-action.html
 
solomon martin
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This seems like an effective concept.  Why not take it a step further and include a cable or rail system where by to move the chicken pen automatically via solar electric motor?  Heck, you could set the whole thing up and have an automated system controlled by your lap-top computer.  Cyber-gardening...now that is a wacky concept!
 
Fc Hintz
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We used to use a chicken tractor like you're talking about.  We planted our garden so the tractor would fit between the rows.  We covered the tractor with tarps or whatever to give the chickens a break from the heat.  If they did get too hot, they just dug down to cooler dirt.  As long as the weeds aren't too big they will do just fine.  Some weeds have thick, hard stems, the chickens will eat the leaves and leave the stem/root.  We took to planting buckwheat between the rows.  Buckwheat grows pretty quickly and shades out most other weeds.  Then when the buckwheat was 4-6 inches tall pull the chicken tractor across it.  They'll eat the plants and till some under while cleaning up bugs and grubs etc. too.  The down side is they don't clean up everything and they sometimes leave nice holes throughout the row where they were digging/dusting.  They can actually dig/dust holes big enough to "escape" from the tractor.  After we had twins... I needed all the garden space I could get... We plant alot more things and alot closer together now.

Our chicken tractor worked like a wheelbarrow. Pick up the handles and two wheels on the other end.  After a couple of trips to the garden, they learned how to walk pretty well with the tractor.

Since we have soo many more chickens now we find it easier to have two "pastures" with each of our 4 coops.  Depending on which gate we open which "pasture" they go into.  One "pasture" can rest and grow while the other provides fresh grasses and bugs.
 
                                  
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i have daydreamed a chicken tractor that is a large pie wedge that sweeps a circle from a center post. or using guide cables to the sides of a wide and shallow house, the tractor could drive back and forth over a large rectangle 
 
Kathleen Sanderson
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noraajagger wrote:
i have daydreamed a chicken tractor that is a large pie wedge that sweeps a circle from a center post. or using guide cables to the sides of a wide and shallow house, the tractor could drive back and forth over a large rectangle 


I've drawn, but never built, a chicken coop (not movable) with several pie-shaped pens that all open from a small central pen around the coop.  This way, you could have one pop-door to open and close for the chickens, and they could have fresh grass on a regular rotation while the other pens recovered.  I really think that for a small number of birds (back-yard flock rather than commercial), this would be the best compromise between the amount of labor needed, predator protection, and fresh forage for the birds.

Kathleen
 
Sam Surman
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Kathleen, I value your input as usual ... do you have the drawings so you can put them here please? I'm always looking for an improvement on what I have.

Cheers

 
Kathleen Sanderson
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Location: Near Klamath Falls, Oregon
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This is an experiment -- will see if it works.

Kathleen



Well, dang.  It isn't coming out.  If you peer at the little picture closely, you can see a dark square in the center -- that's the coop/house.  The small brown circle around the coop is what the chickens would always have access to, a 'sacrifice paddock,' if you will.  The green circle is divided into wedges, each with access to the sacrifice paddock.  You let the chickens out into the sacrifice paddock and open the gate into whichever of the wedge paddocks you want them to use that day.  Could keep them out of the wedge paddocks altogether for a while if necessary, to let things grow (esp. after re-seeding), or let them into all of them sometimes.  Your call.  My original drawings didn't have the sacrifice paddock; all the wedge pens opened directly from the coop.  But that requires a lot of pop-doors for the chickens.  And I like having the sacrifice paddock, with limited access to the green paddocks.

Kathleen

ETA:  If someone can do a re-draw of this idea, and get it on here in a more visible size, I would greatly appreciate it!  It was plenty big enough in Paint, and looked big enough on Photobucket, but here it's tiny!
 
John Polk
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I don't think of that as a "sacrificial paddock", I think of it as a dust bath.
The people I worked with in South America had the exact opposite system for their hogs.
The center was a small pond (wallow pit), and the paddocks rotated around the pit.
Worked great!
 
Kathleen Sanderson
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Did they need to have any kind of houses for the pigs?  I have no intention of raising pigs -- don't like them, and can't eat a lot of pork.  But I think the idea is great! 

Was thinking, too, that I could do something like the drawing for the chickens, for my goats.  Maybe for the goats and the chickens together, as they live together already (need separate night quarters).

Dust bath!  I like that -- gives some purpose to the central paddock!

Kathleen
 
John Polk
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Yes, they had houses that they towed with a tractor.  They figured it was easier (and better land use) to move the housing than to dig a half dozen ponds.  If you don't give pigs a wallow, they'll make their own (anywhere they want!).
 
                        
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Location: South Arkansas
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Bare with me I'm still new to organic gardening I still garden in rows but I have built a tractor to go between my rows and am going to see how it does I will try to post some pics
 
jimmy gallop
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Location: east and dfw texas
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never could post pic here so here is a link

http://www.backyardchickens.com/t/772337/chicken-run

shade is a must as is water.

mine can get back to coop and they don't stay in the midday sun long.
 
Jeremey Weeks
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Location: Eastern Washington, 8 acres, h. zone 5b
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Our chickens free range through our garden. The only stuff I'd keep them away from is new shoots and greens. They left the tomatoes, beans, corn, berries and grapes alone.
 
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