You know those default conversation topics you fall back on when the need for small talk arises? Television. Baseball. The absurdity of Rick Santorum. Recently, I’ve found myself adding chicken tractors to my go-to mix. “So, how ’bout those chicken tractors, huh?” I just can’t stop chatting about them.
So, what’s so captivating about chicken tractors? Harvey Ussery (the chicken tractor evangelist I saw at PASA) gives it straight:
“Small flocks in chicken tractors (or as I like to call them, ‘chicken cruisers’) can till up new ground for garden, till in cover crops or heavy weed growth, and help with control of slugs and snails. In the process, they forage nutrient-dense foods such as earthworms, grubs, and slugs—a big gain in dietary quality.” (From themodernhomestead.us)
So, a few weekends back, Landon and I set out to build the cheapest chicken tractor possible. It’s February after all, and things are getting a little tight cash-flow-wise. We rummaged through the barn and salvaged the following materials…
Thanks to all the free Chicken Tractor Guts pictured above, the whole structure cost us about $40. Most of that money went toward hardware to hold the whole thing together and spray paint to give it that “finished” look.
What does $40 and a bunch of junk get you?
Ta-Da! Our chicken tractor. Landon said it looks like it belongs at an outdated, kind-of-budget mini golf place, so we named it after our favorite outdated, kind-of-budget mini golf place: Steamboat Landing.
The chickens seem to enjoy the access to fresh grass and ample dirt baths, but we still have a few kinks to work out. For instance, the hens aren’t willing to use Steamboat Landing’s nesting boxes. When we have lots of ladies in the chicken tractor, our egg count for the day drops considerably. It’s wheels are a little undersized, and we’re still fine-tuning the transport of the chickens from their permanent structure to the mobile one.
Despite it’s shortcomings though, the coop is still a fun addition to the farm, both functionally and aesthetically. We’ll see how successful it is in living up the promise of Harvey Ussery.
Here are some shots of the chicken tractor in the in-between stages: