Thursday, May 22, 2014

Throw together chicken tractor

When I bought the first 13 chickens through I wasn't worried about integrating them into the existing flock, or any of the stuff I probably should have been.  It was only 13 of them after all...  Then of course I went to TSC and found all those Easter Eggers (11) & Buff Orpingtons (2), bringing my grand total up to 26 at that point and making my job between weeks 4 & 6 much more difficult of course.

I've realized since they rolled over into week 4 that the stock tank they've been living in, is just too small for them to exist in during the day... The time has now come for me to think about a way for them to go outside without getting loose (their not all "tame" to my liking, and will not free range until I can be sure they will remain "home" and not  wander off).

I think considering the gentle nature of the ISA Browns I have right now that I could put them into the adult coop if I wanted to, but I'm not 100% convinced they are ready yet.  They are only 4-weeks old after all... Not to mention I wanted to use up all of the adult layer feed prior to integration into the flock so I don't need to be concerned about the beepla's getting too much calcium and damaging their kidneys in the process. 

There were some hog panels laying around, some chicken wire, some baling twine, some ice cream pails for water... so after working really hard on Monday, this is the resulting contraption.  The beepla's go back into the stock tank at night (handling each and every chick in the process, thereby taming them a little more every day) and they go out into the yard and garden during the day to learn to scratch for bugs and worms, dust bath etc.

The first day, they were all terrified to even move.  They huddled up into a big pile and wouldn't do much of anything.  It was rather discouraging... but then the second day, they did better, and were less wild when I went to put them into their box to come outside.  The third day (today) they had become so accostomed to the idea that when the "tall noisy lady" comes that they go outside that 3 of them jumped into my hand when I put it on the ground to catch them!  Yay!!  THEN as if that wasn't exciting enough... one of my prized Light Brahma's caught her first worm!  All by herself!!  OMG I was so proud I came inside and told my mom & sister!  They laughed at me and didn't understand but I was so proud!  :-D

So anyway... I've done this system the last 3-days, and although it does not look pretty, it works really really well for our needs.

Its amazing what two hog panels, some chicken wire, baling twine, small pails and ingenuity can accomplish...

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