Last year I saw a picture of a chicken tractor in Mother Earth News magazine and I thought that would be a great way to dispose of vegetable scraps, control bugs, and fertilize all at the same time.
Several weeks were spent building "the perfect tractor", although it’s too heavy for me to move around without John’s help (John Deere, that is). In August I drove to Gainesboro (about 55 miles from here) to buy Red Star chickens because I had researched several breeds and these are gentle (they won’t step on you and hurt you like a cow or a horse will) and they are good layers, and they lay brown eggs, which is what I wanted.
They were little tiny things but they were also getting feathers so they didn’t need a light to keep them warm. I read up on them some more and this particular breed is supposed to start laying at 18 weeks. I got out the calender and oh boy, fresh eggs for Thanksgiving!
One day after harvesting green beans, I pulled the chicken tractor into the green bean bed and it promptly sunk up to the axle in the soft ground. Well, so much for taking the chickens to the plants, so I pulled the exhausted bean plants out of the ground and tossed them in to the chickens–they went crazy! It’s fun watching them as I move the tractor around the yard; they get all excited about the “new territory” and if one of them catches, say a grasshopper, everybody chases the one with the bug until somebody wins and gets the bug. I always cheer for the one who caught it in the first place, but I’ve told myself I’m not getting involved in the fights! Back to the egg……
I’ve got about $100 in the tractor; $48 in feed, feeder, waterer, grit, etc. Today I found an egg! (note that it’s been almost 2 months since Thanksgiving) It’s the most expensive egg I’ve ever bought, but it was as much fun as finding the prize egg on an Easter egg hunt
I think my chickens will get a permanent house, more chickens to play with, and they will take daily excursions in a more lightweight, sporty edition of the clunky tractor they now have.