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all terrain chicken tractor.

 
Jordan Lowery
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Does anyone have any ideas. It needs to be able to work on a hillside that is not so even with bumps and such. Not too horrible though. all grass pasture so its not bare dirt or weeds.

I would love to use a moveable paddock, but there are TONS of hawks and other birds of prey around.

my main problem is the bottom has to conform to the land, or else the chickens will escape. and of course it needs to be very easily moved by one person.
 
            
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If there's roofed shelter in the paddock, hawk-harassed birds will scatter for it at the sight of a shadow on the ground. In my experience birds of prey are pretty well deterred by roofs; they want to pick their prey off out in the open where they can assess any nearby threat, not fly into an unknown situation chasing a food item. A twenty-two aimed near but not at the hawk (to maximize the noise directed at them from the report) will keep them clear of the vicinity as well. They aren't stupid, and learn rather quickly.
 
Jordan Lowery
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our hawks AND other birds of prey, which is like 5 other species. the red tailed hawks are not much of an issue. but they do kill chickens, ive had to at least lost 20 or so to red tails alone. and i know its them because they only eat the face of the chicken. some red tails are cautious of objects around them. others though take them as a challenge it seems. flying as fast as they can through the undercanopy of oak trunks and branches. they have amazing agility.

then there is the coopers hawk, they dont care for objects at all. they always come in, even if the chickens see them. set up and wait somewhere, and wait until the chickens forget about them. then when one gets too close and then snatches them. i know its them because they only eat the upper chest of the chicken.

im going to make an all terrain chicken tractor anyways, i just wanted to see if anyone had ideas.

also this is not a huge open field. its about 1/2-3/4 acre on a south facing slope, surrounded by oak trees and large pines.
 
            
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Fair enough.. we have a similar situation here with old growth trees where lots of birds of prey like to nest.. both red-tails and Coopers, plus others. It may be that our abundance of prey items (meadow voles, gophers, rabbits, field mice, snakes, fish, smaller birds) acts as a deterrent, encouraging them to seek less challenging prey items. Maybe you could try modifying a utility trailer if you're handy with a torch; you could add some flexy struts to compensate for unevenness (sp?) in the terrain. Big, knobby tires inflated to a bit lower than recommended PSI would be a boon as well.
 
                                              
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  Well I never even used a chicken tractor, and all of them Ive seen were different...

  but if you can get one that will sit on the hill safely, you could simply stack some bales of straw arounf the edges, so that the chickens cant get out.....

  not sure that helps, but its what i thought of, when I read the post....
 
John Polk
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I have contemplated the same issue of a bottom that conforms to the terrain.  An idea that I have is to nail a rubber skirt (used truck inner tubes) to the edge of the skids.  It should be able to take care of minor irregularities (and also help eliminate drafts along the sides), and be flexible enough to survive the relocation process.
 
                              
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I have a very similiar area and heres what I have planned.   The tractor itself  will be built so that it has a pivot that orients up/downhill.   House is able to be leveled no mater which angle the base is.   The perimeter of the base has landscape spikes spaced in predrilled holes every few inches, about 6" of adjustment.      The best example are those "pin things"  that will make a mold of your hand.     Thats the basic idea.  There is probably a simpler answer.  I have a tendency to overengineer.
 
Chris Stelzer
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Thought I would give my take on the issue. I am going for a more commercial egg production operation. I built an "Eggmobile" modeled after Joel Salatin's model. I started with a trailer frame, and built it up from there. There will be an automatic chicken door on the trailer, which opens as the sun rises, and closes when the sun sets.



You could also use a portable "Hoop House", which you could drag by hand, or with a ATV, horse, donkey, tractor, etc. Heres what they look like:


Joel Salatin has also moved on to a new concept "The Feathernet" which has a sissor-truss design to provide shelter and roosting for the poultry.


With all of these application, you could use electrified poultry netting and start practicing rotational grazing with your birds. Here is electrified poultry netting. www.kencove.com has great products and customer service.



Hope this helps!


 
Jordan Lowery
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thomas i had a similar pivot from a central point idea too. i was thinking an upper sturdy frame that goes almost to the ground. and then some netting with something heavy that conforms to the land under that. only problem im seeing is moving it with one person with ease. two people yea no problem. but one person makes it a tricky situation.

chris that is a nice eggmobile, but a real lack of use with natural materials. lots of plastic and processing with those materials.

remember this is not on flat ground, not on pasture land. its a hillside meadow with bumps and such in the land.

the electric netting would be ok if it wasn't for the birds of prey i already talked about.
 
                              
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How about a castnet type design along the bottom?  By function they have to conform to varied bottoms.  If predators are a big problem it maynot be secure enough.
 
                                              
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thomas wrote:
How about a castnet type design along the bottom?   By function they have to conform to varied bottoms.   If predators are a big problem it maynot be secure enough.


this is such a neat thread. Many answers to the same problem. this is a really neat idea!  wonder what size weight chickens would need on the bottom of the net?
 
            
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How many birds are you trying to house?
 
Chris Stelzer
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Hubert,

I know a wheeled structure wouldn't work for you, I just wanted to give you some ideas. I think you could build a really small scale "Feathernet" like the one I posted in my previous post. It would be on skids, and easy to pull around. It would have complete openings on both ends, with a nice roof for the birds to hide under when there are aerial predators. You could then surround this will electrified poultry netting to make it relatively safe from all predators.

You could also add a pair of Canadian Gesse to you flock, I've seen this work as well.

It's also important to choose a heritage breed chicken. These chickens are smarter and have better instincts when it comes to aerial predators.

I don't believe any solution you come up will have a 0% mortality rate, but we can always try! Just accecpt the fact that you might lose a bird or two (or 5) per season. That would be my advice, take it for what it's worth =D

P.S.
In my opinion, by confining the chickens to a "tractor" and not allowing them to free range is somewhat cruel. You aren't allowing the chicken to express its chickeness to the fullest extent. Try to come up with a solution that allows each chicken to express their physiological distinctiveness! I'm now stepping off of my soap box =]


Good luck!
 
Jordan Lowery
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How many birds are you trying to house?


im not set on any specific number. lets say 5-10 chickens.

It's also important to choose a heritage breed chicken. These chickens are smarter and have better instincts when it comes to aerial predators.


well i can tell you now, where im living now which is a different place from where i am describing for the all terrain chicken tractor. natural selection is taking its place. only the sneaky, quick and smart chickens live. the rest become hawk food.

I don't believe any solution you come up will have a 0% mortality rate, but we can always try! Just accecpt the fact that you might lose a bird or two (or 5) per season. That would be my advice, take it for what it's worth =D


oh for sure, chickens die. i accept chicken deaths all the time.

P.S.
In my opinion, by confining the chickens to a "tractor" and not allowing them to free range is somewhat cruel. You aren't allowing the chicken to express its chickeness to the fullest extent. Try to come up with a solution that allows each chicken to express their physiological distinctiveness! I'm now stepping off of my soap box =]


actually the plan for the all terrain CT is to clear small areas at a time and establish a forest garden before terracing takes place. where the chickens clear its much easier to terrace and establish a beneficial groundcover of useful plants, than rather when it is solid thick 1ft tall thick grass.

when all the earthworks and ground covers, bushes and trees are established, they will get to run around as they please and do my bidding eating bugs and such. they will also have a lot of cover by then as well and hawks wont be as much of an issue.

now im off to find some sort of recycled or used netting, some bamboo for a frame and some rope.
 
Chris Stelzer
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hubert cumberdale wrote:


Why not use an herbivore? Cows, sheep or goats would do a much better job clearing an area as well as building soil, in addition to providing you with meat, milk or fiber. I guess if your only dealing with 12inches of grass you'd be ok with chickens, but you might right into trouble clearing areas that are more woody or higher than 12 inches.
 
Jordan Lowery
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yes ideally goats would be great. but this is the all terrain chicken tractor thread. maybe someone else wants one for a even smaller area than im dealing with, who knows.

its not 12 inches yet, but come summer it will be. if they get it now, its no problem and far less of a fire hazard when its bone dry for months on end.

and really as far as the rest of the world is concerned i could easily use a weed wacker to clear an area in 5 minutes.
 
            
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If you're only talking about five birds maybe you could do something similar to what Ludi has got. She's posted pictures around here somewhere.. ah, here they are:

http://www.permies.com/bb/index.php?topic=7541.new;topicseen#new

I think I could probably shuffle that down a hill by myself on the bare frame.. no wheels, no dolly, etc. Maybe a misestimation but just judging by looks alone.
 
                              
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Hubert,
    Post some pictures of the progress!  Love to see what you come up with.  A solution in this type of situation would expand possibilities for many who are homesteading hills.  I personally find  it a hard decision to use up my  limited flat areas when I have  prime locations with everything but varied ground  working FOR it.  Good luck with your challenge.
 
                          
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Okay, maybe I'm nuts or just ignorant, but I gotta throw this out there...  What about some sort of teepee?  (Or do you spell that tipi?  I'm never sure. Whatever.)

I'm just thinking a tall round stack of poles would surely conform to any terrain. Some kind of netting or wire cloth might be slung around it and secured on with pins.  Roosts could be attached to poles inside, almost like the way hammocks are slung between trees.  The nesting boxes could just be loose and moveable baskets or something.

I realize as I say all of this that I am likely to get laughed at, since I've never owned a chicken or built anything more complex than an Ikea bookcase.  But it just seems logical from what I can see.

Go ahead and explain to me now what major and important factors I forgot to take into account.
 
Kay Bee
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Heavy duty netting or mesh for the side walls could be attached to a decent weight chain at the bottom.  that may give you enough flexibility for what you need. 

depending on your terrestrial predators, you may be able to use bent wire hoops to fix the chains in place once the tractor is at the new location.

good luck and please post pics if you get something set up.
 
            
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K.B. wrote:
Heavy duty netting or mesh for the side walls could be attached to a decent weight chain at the bottom.  that may give you enough flexibility for what you need. 

depending on your terrestrial predators, you may be able to use bent wire hoops to fix the chains in place once the tractor is at the new location.

good luck and please post pics if you get something set up.


Fairly ingenious. I think you have your design, Hubert.
 
Jordan Lowery
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yea thanks for the great ideas everyone.

so this is what im thinking now. there will be a center pole with handles, so i can go in, lift it up and walk around with it, then stab it back in the ground. from there i think some sort of bamboo umbrella type deal to go out from the center post some. and the heavy duty netting from there with some decent weight chain at the bottom. one area on the netting will be a zipper or ties or something to let me in and out to get to the pole for easy moving while keeping the chickens in.

will keep an eye out for recycled/free materials to use and will keep everyone updated.
 
Jordan Lowery
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update. ive found some heavy chain from some guy at a yard sale. i have been thinking about the design and might simplify it. i have an almost A frame structure in mind. the round idea just seemed too complicated for what i need. it still seems ok on some real bad terrain. and then again if its that bad, a simple fence would work better.
 
I agree. Here's the link: https://richsoil.com/wood-heat.jsp
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