Saturday, June 23, 2012

A Chicken Tractor for Pastured Egg Layers

Our next construction project after the duck house was a movable chicken coop (also known as a chicken tractor) for our Rhode Island Red pullets (young hens). We decided on a light weight A-frame style with some metal roofing to keep out the rain and provide protection from the sun. 

Here's Patrick our "construction manager" adding chicken wire to the ends. This end will hold the egg boxes later in the year but for now it will just be chicken wire.

We also added two clear plastic panels to each side to allow light into the roosting area.

From this view you can see the end with the door and the roosting area inside. The roosts were just 1" poles we cut from the woods and crisscrossed inside the tractor. Just inside the door we allowed for enough room to hang their feed and water. We also used electric wire netting since it is easy to move! 
This is moving day! The kids are excited to let the pullets into their new home.

Here are the girls (and a few boys!) enjoying the fresh grass in their new home! It took them a few days to find the roosts but they easily adapted to the new area. Eggs coming soon...

Just a few bits of info if anyone is interested...
 We could not find any info on chicken tractor designs for pastured egg layers online when we started this project. Hope this may be helpful to someone else.

This coop was built for 50 hens but could hold up to 70-75. 
It is 16' long and 12' wide.
The total cost of materials was around $1000.
The electric netting was purchased at Premier we have184 feet in two sections.
We use a hanging metal feeder that we bought at Tractor Supply.
We use this style dispenser for water that we also bought online.

We have found that the tractor needs to be moved twice a week, once within the fencing and another when we move the entire fencing system. We will update this with the egg boxes when we get them on.

UPDATE: Check out this post to see how we added the egg boxes on to the back.

UPDATE 2013: This year we needed to add 100 new laying hens to our flock to keep up with the demand for our pastured eggs. We are trying out a new tractor/coop in order to house them all. We were also wanting more space for egg boxes since we have had some issues with broken eggs and eggs being eaten by the hens. Below is a link to the post with a few photo's of our new set up. We also added double the amount of electric netting as we had last year. The new  house is quite hard to move right now since we have not added the wheels. We are moving it by slowly dragging it along with the farm tractor. We would love to elevate the whole thing on some kind of steel frame with wheels and then be able to hook on to the frame when moving.
Post 1 with construction photo's inside and out.
Post 2 with photo's in the field.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

The Duck House

Our Cayuga ducks have outgrown their small corner of the seedling house where they have been living. Our family friend and now the ducks "benefactor" was so generous to supply the money to build them a new home! The duck house aka "Lee's Duck Chalet" was fashioned in the Victorian gingerbread style! Here it is almost ready for paint. 

 Next comes the paint and finishing touches! 

 On to the tractor for the move to "Duck Land".

A short video tour of the duck house. Check it out:

Just in case we forget!

The Cayugas are looking pretty happy about their new house! 

It took us a while to get them used to it but they finally got it! They now go in at night by themselves and are safe and cozy! Thanks to everyone who helped with this project! We will be enjoying duck eggs some time this fall and will hopefully have enough to sell!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Our Broiler Chicks Have Arrived

 Our first adventure in raising livestock for food has begun! We are excited about being able to raise our own food and really want to include meat in that category. 

  We ordered 50 White Jumbo Cornish Rock Cross broiler chicks and got the call today that they had arrived at our local feed store.

It is amazing to think we are going to eat these little fuzz balls! They literally were the cutest chicks we had ever seen! The spitting image of a fuzzy little yellow Easter chick. Irrisistably cute and very hard to make the connection to food at this point. Oh well, guess we will enjoy them while it lasts. The grown up version of these little cuties is NOT cute!