Chicken Tractors

Winter 2007-2008
Unity College displayed a chicken tractor that student Sara Trunzo designed and built for use in the campus apple orchard. The 32-square-foot structure includes a closeable hutch for shade and nest boxes, water, feeder, and plenty of open space and sunlight. It also protects birds from predators and lets people access the birds and their eggs easily. The chicken tractor is moved daily, so waste doesn’t accumulate as it does in a permanent chicken house. Instead it builds soil fertility for the apples – to the benefit of the Unity community. English photo.

by Jean English

Chicken tractors were so well represented at the Common Ground Country Fair that anyone with even a small patch of yard could go home knowing how to raise a couple of laying hens or a small flock of meat birds.

Unity College, for example, displayed a chicken tractor that student Sara Trunzo designed and built for use in the campus apple orchard. The 32-square-foot structure includes a closeable hutch for shade and nest boxes, water, feeder, and plenty of open space and sunlight. It also protects birds from predators and lets people access the birds and their eggs easily. The chicken tractor is moved daily, so waste doesn’t accumulate as it does in a permanent chicken house.  Instead it builds soil fertility for the apples – to the benefit of the Unity community.

MOFGA showed two versions of chicken tractors in its South Orchard: one for a larger flock of birds (including turkeys) and a smaller version. Like the Unity College tractor, these can be rotated around the orchard as fowl fertilize the soil, eat bugs and dig weeds.

Cheryl Long, editor of Mother Earth News, attracted a crowd as she described the clever, low-cost, easy-to-build, moveable coop that she designed by converting a plastic dog kennel into a coop and surrounding it with wire, to deter predators.  Plans for this coop are available at www.motherearthnews.com/eggs.

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