Monday, June 25, 2012

The Halfway House aka Chicken Tractor

This spring, Whitney and I built this simple Chicken Tractor from plans we found in Hobby Farms Magazine
We wanted somthing to act as a step between the brooder box and the coop. The reason being that introducing pullets to the coop too quickly can result in dead pullets if they are too young. The older hens will assert dominance and if the pullets can't take the punishment, the hens can kill them. So we checked around and found this one that seemed to fit the bill, especially since I didn't have to buy any extra materials. This mini coop will act as a Halfway House for this summer until the pullets are ready for life in the coop.
 It is a super simple design, although I changed it a little to use materials I had on hand. They used 2x2's for the frame, I used 2x4's. Their overall length was 10' mine is 8'. Also they didn't mention any roofing, I used tar paper and shingles I had on hand.

The pullets have half the area boxed in and half the area fenced in. This way they can regulate how much sun they get and have a place to hide when spooked. There is a fenced floor which allows for foraging, but keeps them safe from preditors.  

I didn't insulate or install anything perminant inside because for us it will only be a temporary pullet residence. Also, since the idea is to keep it light enough to move around, everything inside gets removed when it's time for a move.  
So here is the finished "tractor". The term comes from the use of chickens to cultivate and fertilize the ground below. That's not exactly our intent, but it is nice to let the chicks mow the grass. Since we've been using it, it seems a move once a week is about right to keep the grass green and the girls happy. It's not super easy to move, but do-able with the wheels on the left above.

At about two months, our pullets are fully feathered and seem to be very happy about being outside. They took to foraging with no trouble and are now enjoying a diet of pullet developer crumble plus plenty of grass and bugs.


April said...

Cool solution & beautiful girl. Are all the pullets the same breed? What are they? The one in the picture is stunning.

So they'll be in the tractor all summer? 4-5 months old is the best time to integrate pullets?

Our little ones are 3 weeks old now. Whitney will get to lend us her chicken wisdom when she comes to visit. :)

Whitney S. said...

Sorry April, just noticed your comment! The 5 new ones are all Silver-Laced Wyandottes (unfortunately I think we have two roosters). And they are beautiful, one of the many great attributes of this breed. They will be in the tractor until they get to a size that they can handle being picked on by the bigger chickens. I am guessing that will be in August or September which makes them about 5 months old. This is all knowledge by trial and error though :) I wouldn't say I have much chicken wisdom but I cannot wait to meet your little ladies! Love ya!