Monday, December 7, 2015

Chicken posts in 2015

Every year I like to do a round up of all the posts I've done of various topics, so that everyone can catch up on what they've missed.  Here's all my chicken posts.... and a couple of memes I've whipped up to help advertise my chicken tractor ebook.

Please ask all your chicken tractor questions here....  And tell your chicken tractor success stories too!

Keeping bantam chickens
Trimming chicken wing feathers
Feeding chickens
Popular chicken posts on Eight Acres
Treating chicken mites and lice
Hatching chicks!

You can find earlier chicken posts here.  And of course a tidied up and revised version of everything in my chicken tractor ebook.

Thanks for following my blog.  I love to read your comments and share and fun and challenges of chickens (and everything else on the farm).  See you next year!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Keeping bantam chickens

I recently came into the possession of some bantams and they are ridiculously cute.  They also have a job to do.... I'm hoping they will hatch some eggs.  I thought I better find out a bit more about them first though!  Here's what I've learnt about bantams....

Bantams are chickens that are bred to be smaller than full sized chickens ("large fowl").  There are different breeds of bantams, some are just small versions of the big chickens (like Plymouth Rock, which is both a large and bantam breed) or "true bantams" which do not have an equivalent large breed, such as the pekin.  The different breeds are different sizes, but all are small (see here for more information on bantam breeds).  The bantams that we have acquired are unknown breeds, one (B1) looks like a pekin to me, and the other (Bubble) seems to be a pekin crossed with a silkie (apparently there used to be a B2 and a Squeak as well).  They are both tiny, about the size of a guinea pig, maybe about 500g each.

Things I like about bantams

  • Bantams have a reputation for brooding, hatching and raising chicks, although they can only fit a few eggs under them at a time!  I would like to try this instead of using the incubator, as this would allow the chicks to be raised by the bantams and I wouldn't have to look after them!
  • Bantams are tiny, do not eat much and do not dig massive holes in the lawn (unlike the big chickens where are currently working on turning our yard into a moonscape)
  • Bantams are relatively friendly, I'm not sure if they like being picked up, but they don't struggle as much as a big chicken and I don't end up with scratches all down my arms.  I think they would be a good pet for children as they are a bit more cuddly and the right size for small hands.
  • Bantams are CUTE!  All chickens are fun to watch, but there's something about mini-chickens that is really fascinating. 
  • Bantams are very well suited to chicken tractors - the chicken tractor keeps them safe from predators, and being small, they don't need much area or height, they seem very happy in their small chicken tractor.  I haven't let them out to free-range as I don't want the large chickens to pick on them, but they have plenty of grass in their chicken tractor.  If you have big chickens and want to keep a few bantams, a chicken tractor is a good option for keeping them separate.

eight acres: all about bantam chickens
B1 the pekin

eight acres: all about bantam chickens
B1 with an egg carton for scale

Why I still need some big chickens
If I only had a small yard, I think bantams would be a really good idea, but while we have the space, I still prefer to keep a few (only 20!) big chickens for these reasons:

  • Bantam eggs are small and infrequent - the eggs about half the size of a big chicken (actually surprisingly big considered the size of the birds!) and they don't lay every day, I need some big chickens to lay enough eggs for us to eat.  If you had a family of four you could probably keep six-eight bantams for a (small) egg each per day.
  • There's not much meat on a bantam - I don't think it would even be worth the effort of butchering a bantam, they are just too small, I'd rather raise large chickens for meat.

eight acres: all about bantam chickens
B1 and Bubble in their small chicken tractor
Have you kept bantams?  What do you think of them? 

If you want to know more about chicken tractors, check out my book here.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Trimming wing feathers

Uh-oh someone keeps flying into my vege garden and scuffing up all the mulch.....  Doesn't she look innocent!  I caught her twice, so it was time to trim her wing feathers to stop her flying over the fence.

Step 1: chase the chicken around the garden until you finally catch her

Step 2: go into the house and find your best sharp sewing scissors.  Do not put the chicken down, otherwise you have to do step 1 again.  If necessary take the chicken into the house with you.

Step 3: extend one wing and trim all the longer feathers.  I usually just trim one wing, that makes the chicken unstable.  If you trim both wings, sometimes they can still fly high enough to get into mischief.

Step 4: release the chicken and hope you don't find her in the garden again....

Do you trim chicken wing feathers?  Any tips?

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Design and Use a Chicken Tractor - Published at last!

After months and months of procrastination, I have finally published "Design and Use a Chicken Tractor"!  It is available on Etsy and I will add it to other platforms soon (ran out of internet!).

What's the eBook about?
Chickens in a confined coop can end up living in an unpleasant dust-bowl, but allowing chickens to free-range can result in chickens getting into gardens and expose them to predators.

 A movable cage or “chicken tractor” is the best of both options – the chickens are safe, have access to clean grass, fresh air and bugs. Feed costs are reduced, chickens are happier, and egg production increases. 

 But how do you build a chicken tractor? What aspects should be considered in designing and using a chicken tractor effectively? In this eBook I aim to explain how to make a chicken tractor work for you in your environment to meet your goals for keeping chickens. 

I also list what I have learnt over 10 years of keeping chickens in tractors of various designs and sizes, from hatching chicks, through to butchering roosters.


1.            Introduction
1.1.         About us
1.2.         About this book
1.3.         Conversion of units
1.4.         Chicken tractor terminology
2.            Chicken tractor basics
2.1.         What is a chicken tractor?
2.2.         Advantages
2.3.         Disadvantages
3.            Examples of chicken tractors
3.1.         How we use chicken tractors at Eight Acres
3.2.         Joel Salatin – Pastured Poultry Profits
3.3.         Linda Woodrow – Permaculture Home Garden
3.4.         Chicken Tractor - The Permaculture Guide to Happy Hens and Healthy Soil
3.5.         Toby Hemenway - Gaia’s Garden
4.            Design and construction considerations
4.1.         Construction materials
4.2.         Mobility and weight
4.3.         Climate
4.4.         Size
4.5.         Nesting boxes for laying hens
4.6.         Predators and pests
4.7.         Mesh size
4.8.         Provision of food and water in the tractor
4.9.         Putting it all together
5.            How to use a chicken tractor
5.1.         How to accustom chickens to a chicken tractor
5.2.         When and how to move the tractor
5.3.         Chicken tractors and gardens
5.4.         Chicken tractors and cattle
5.5.         Chicken tractors and the family dog
6.            Our Experience with Chickens
6.1.         Using an incubator
6.2.         Caring for chicks
6.3.         Planning your flock
6.4.         Ideas for feeding chickens
6.5.         Living with roosters
6.6.         Butchering and cooking your chickens
7.            Some final thoughts on chicken tractors
8.            References
Appendix A:       Photos of our chicken tractors

Monday, August 17, 2015

Feeding chickens

There are many options for feeding your chickens. For a while we thought the solution was chicken layer pellets, they are uniform, so the chickens don't pick through them, but you never really know what's in them, and they are usually a relatively expensive option.

We then started buying a nice mixed grain produced by our local stock feed store. Unfortunately our chickens are very picky, they don't seem to like wheat or sorghum, so these seeds were picked out while they ate the corn and the sunflowers. Seems like a waste when half the feed ends up on the ground, and just attracts mice. The chickens also tend to leave the fines in the bottom of the feeder, creating even more waste.

eight acres: what to feed chickens

Then we decided that if they like corn and sunflowers so much, we should just feed them cracked corn and sunflower seeds. The guy at the stock feed store was worried that this would not be a complete food, however with the chickens free ranging, they should be picking up a lot of what they need out in the paddock, ideally we should only be supplementing the feed that they can find for themselves.

Its quite difficult to find information on chicken feed that's not targeted to industrial producers, or just too vague to make any decisions (like "use a layer mash"). Most industrial advice is about what you can get away with, the main strategy for increasing protein content (and pump out maximum eggs) is to add either animal products or soy. I have also seen a domestic chicken pellet with "yolk pigmenter" included, this is just a food colouring to make the yolks darker - a chicken with a healthy diet should lay eggs with naturally dark yellow yolks.

Cracked corn has a protein content of 6%, and typically an energy content of 13900 kJ/kg. Sunflower seeds can have protein up to 24%, with energy content of 23850 kJ/kg. Sunflower seeds are more expensive that cracked corn, and are deficient in the amino acid lysine, so its good to feed some cracked corn to ensure a balance of amino acids and to reduce feed costs, even though sunflower seeds are the higher energy and protein feed.

From one source I found out that a hen needs about 700 kJ of energy per day to produce eggs and to free-range, and about 18 g/day of protein.  A hen can achieve most of her energy and protein needs just from eating cracked corn (about 300g per hen per day), but by adding sunflowers to the diet, the total feed requirement reduces. For example feeding 50/50 cracked corn and sunflowers reduces the feed requirements to about 120g per hen per day. The ideal ratio depends on the price of sunflower seeds relative to cracked corn. The more sunflower seeds consumed, the less overall feed and overall energy needs to be consumed to achieve enough protein, so I think we should feed as much sunflower seeds as we can afford. This system resulted in much less food wasted, so even though buying cracked corn is more expensive than mixed grain, it worked out cheaper as we don't have to use as many bags per week.

Lately we have come to an even simpler system in which we feed the chickens the same milled grain as the cattle. That way we only have to keep one type of feed in storage and its suitable for all the animals. The grain is milled to a size where the chickens can’t really pick through and chose their favourite grains. Also any food spilt is safe for the cattle to eat when the chicken tractor is moved over. We still feed sunflower seeds as a treat in the afternoon, I don’t think we could stop even if we wanted to, as you just about can’t walk to the feed bins without being mobbed by a gang of chickens waiting for their afternoon treats. We store the milled grain in 200 L metal drums, with a layer of diatomaceous earth to keep the insects out. This is also safe for the animals to eat.

Ideally, the grain should just be a supplement to all the food that the chickens can find while free-ranging. They eat grass, weeds and any bugs that they find. We also grow a few bugs for treats and to feed to baby chicks. Eventually I would like to grow all the chicken feed and not have to buy grain at all.

Chickens need to eat some form of living protein because they need the amino acid methionine, which is not found in significant proportions in grains or legumes. The theory is that chickens are descended from naturally free-ranging jungle-dwelling birds (gallus gallus), which tend to get their protein from bugs. It is argued that a chicken free-ranging on pasture does not pick up as many bugs as a bird living in the jungle might, and therefore does not get enough protein from bugs, and so needs to be fed a "complete ration" containing either meat meal or a synthetic form of methionine. In addition, while gallus gallus lays only a few eggs per year, our modern hens lay close to one per day and have higher protein requirements.

Mealworms are one source of protein that you can grow for your chickens. Mealworms live in grain (which doesn’t quite help us to avoid grain, but they don’t need much). Mealworms convert that grain to higher protein feed just by feeding and growing, so its a way to increase the nutritional value of the grain. They also need the occasional carrot or apple to provide moisture, just replace it when its all eaten or gone mouldy. Compost worms are another option, especially if you are keeping a worm farm anyway, its very easy to dig around in the worm farm and grab a few worms for the chickens. Black Soldier Fly larvae are another option that can be set up around the chicken tractors as self-serve protein systems. I can’t get into the detail here, but there is plenty of information on the net about all of these options. Harvey Ussery also suggests in his book that you could hang a bucket of roadkill meat in the chicken coop and let the maggots fall out to feed the chickens! He calls it free-food from thin-air. There are certainly some clever ideas out there and we do not need to be constrained to buying expensive bags of feed from the produce store.

What do you feed your chickens?  Any clever ideas for free chicken food?

Monday, June 29, 2015

Popular posts about chickens

Over the years I've been writing Eight Acres - the blog, chickens have been a regular topic and there are a few themes that have been particularly popular.

chicken tractor ebook: popular chicken posts on eight acres

Chicken tractors
Of course the inspiration for my Chicken Tractor eBook was the popularity of my posts about chicken tractors.  People are obviously very interested in building and using chicken tractors with chickens and other poultry.  Here's those posts again in case you missed them:

If you want to know about the pros and cons of using a chicken tractor vs a fixed chicken coop, try Mobile chicken tractors vs fixed pen.  Now that you're convinced that you need a chicken tractor, here's some thoughts on How to build a chicken tractor (with more photos in Another chicken tractor), and a couple of posts about How to use a chicken tractor (more in Chicken tractor guest post).

I'm still working on the eBook, nearly ready!

Gender of chicks
This question pops up all the time (and I had to word this carefully so I didn't get blocked by spam filters!), it seems like everyone who buys or hatches chicks eventually needs to know whether they got the hens they ordered, or a few roosters that might need to find another home.  After nearly 10 years of hatching chicks, we are getting pretty good at picking the gender at around 6 weeks old.  I put some photos in this post to help: Determining the gender of young chickens

chicken tractor ebook: popular chicken posts on eight acres
pullets that we hatched

Guinea fowl
The guinea fowl were a brief experiment (we had them for about a year).  We bought 10 keets and raised them.  They lived in a chicken tractor, but never really fitted in to our farm.  We hatched more keets and then sold the lot of them for more than the original keets cost me, so I guess at least I made a profit!

Here's the keets (they are SO cute) Guinea fowl keets, and this is when we first tried them free-ranging Free range guinea fowl!.  And then the final decision to sell them Guinea Fowl Realities.

chicken tractor ebook: popular chicken posts on eight acres
crazy guinea fowl!

Feeding chickens
We have been through many iterations with feeding the chickens.  At first we thought a cheap laying pellet was the best option, then we were worried about animal byproducts, so we bought a mixed grain ration.  That got expensive, so we tried just feeding corn and sunflower seeds (Chicken feed).  And now we just give the chickens the same milled grain that we buy for the cattle. And I started raising Meal worms for the chickens.  Ultimately I'd like to grow enough in our (planned) food forest to let the chickens eat mainly greens and insects, with minimal grain, but that is a LONG term plan!

chicken tractor ebook: popular chicken posts on eight acres
hens enjoying meal worms

Butchering and cooking chickens
If you do end up with unwanted roosters, or you really want to become self-sufficient, butchering chickens is easier that might think and a great option for people living on small properties to grow their own meat.

I've written about Raising chickens for meat and Butchering Homegrown Chickens, more importantly is how to cook old chooks and roasting young roosters, because butchering is the easy part, and you won't enjoy the process if you don't know what to do with the chicken meat when you're finished!

chicken tractor ebook: popular chicken posts on eight acres
chicken stock in the slow cooker

I hope you find this summary useful for address common chicken questions.  What else do you need to know about chickens?  What have I missed?

Monday, April 27, 2015

Treating mites and lice on chickens

Recently I picked up one of our hens to check her for external parasites and found her to be crawling with them.  So many that when I put her down, they were crawling on me too!  In the past we have treated our chickens with Maldison when we found the chickens to have external parasites.  We only found out that the chickens had parasites that time because a couple of them dropped dead.  Since then, we check the chickens more regularly, any time I can catch a hen I will check her for parasites.  Usually they are fine, we haven't had any issues for about two years, but now the bugs are back.

eight acres: treating mites and lice on chickens
poor rooster, all the hens took off into the bushes and left him,
they really don't like being wet

As our chickens free-range most days, they have plenty of opportunity to have contact with wild birds and the parasites that they carry.  They also have opportunity to dust bathe, which helps them to stay bug-free.  I think moving the tractors regularly helps too.  My theory is that we just got a big slack about cleaning out the nesting boxes and the bugs have managed to get established.  This is a good reminder that is important to keep everything clean.

I didn't want to use Maldison to treat the parasites this time because its one of the chemicals that the WHO recently rated as "probably causing cancer" (also reported here).  We have also used Pestene, but the active ingredient rotonone, while technically natural and allowed in organic farming, has also been linked to health problems.  Other sites suggest dog or cat flea treatments, I don't even use them on the dogs, so I don't want them on the chickens either (we do use tick collar because we live in a paralysis tick area).

I wanted to try neem oil because I've found it so effective against other insects lately (more to come about neem oil in future posts, but check out what I wrote about neem oil back here).  We made up a 5% solution of neem oil in water with a little detergent, in a large bucket, caught each chicken and dunked them in the liquid.  We also cleaned out the nesting boxes and refreshed them with diatomaceous earth and wood shavings (diatomaceous earth is another excellent insect killer, see more details here).

eight acres: treating mites and lice on chickens
bucket of neem solution for dunking infested chickens

We checked each chicken before we dunked it in the neem oil solution, just to get an idea of how many were infested, and we did notice that there were two types of bugs.  I didn't find out until later that the chickens had both lice and mites.  It turns out that this is an important detail.  The lice just camp out on the chickens skin and feed on the feather follicles, they lay eggs in the feathers and you will see big balls of eggs around the feathers near the chicken's vent if it has a bad infestation.

While lice will just irritate the chickens and make them uncomfortable, mites actually suck the chicken's blood and can cause serious problems, even death.  I suspect that's what we had the first time when the chickens died, although we only saw lice at the time (I remember those huge balls of eggs!).  There are also several types of mites, some live on the chickens all the time and some live in the pen and jump on the chickens at night.

When I checked the chickens again a few days later, I didn't find any lice, so I can report that neem oil definitely works on lice.  I did see mites though, but I am hoping that the diatomeceous earth and the longer term effects of the neem oil are going to take care of these mites (you went back and read my neem oil post where I explain all that, right?).  In the meantime, we are regularly cleaning out the nesting boxes and not giving those mites anywhere to hide.  A couple of weeks later, a spot check of the rooster just after dark revealed no mites, so this approach appears to have worked.

eight acres: treating mites and lice on chickens
cleaning nesting boxes with diatomeceous earth and wood shavings

Tips for recognising and treating mites and lice in chickens:
  • Check your chickens regularly (pick them up at random when you can, turn them upside down (gently!) and inspect around their vents for insects)
  • Keep nest boxes and coops as clean as possible
  • Provide dust baths for the chickens (that's our whole property in a drought!)
  • If you find insects, plan to spray individual chickens, or dunk them if you have several to treat, with a solution of 5% neem oil in water
  • Do it early morning when you know its not going to be too cold or windy, so they have time to dry off before night
  • Catch each chicken, check it for mites and lice around the vent, then dunk or spray the chicken and try to cover as much skin as possible with the solution
  • Keep checking them and repeat if necessary

Have you found mites or lice on your chickens?  What do you do about it?

Friday, March 27, 2015

Raising chicks in a chicken tractor

The chicks have grown enough to move out into a chicken tractor. Here's some thoughts from the books about feeding the chicks and their first few nights in the chicken tractor:

Feeding chicks
There are a few options for feeding the chicks. You can just buy a commercial chick starter crumble, which is formulated for chicks, and usually contains a coccidiostat (an antibiotic to prevent the chicks getting sick from coccidiosis). This is more relevant for large-scale production of chicks and probably unnecessary if you’re only raising a few chicks. A good alternative, if you can find it, is an organic chick crumble which contains all the same protein and minerals as the commercial crumble, without the medication.

Now you may want to take things even further and make the chick feed yourself. We have experimented with a few options and found that we can use hammer-milled grain (that we also feed to our adult chickens) supplemented with extra protein and minerals. The extra protein can be in the form of meal worms, compost worms, meat meal mix (available from our local produce store) and hardboiled eggs. It sounds weird to feed eggs to chickens, but the egg was the chick’s first food as it developed, and as long as its crushed they won’t associate a raw egg with food in the future. This is the easiest and cheapest supplement if you already have some laying hens. For the minerals we buy a commercial organic mineral mix and a seaweed meal.

You can also start feeding the chicks leafy greens and grass, they might not eat much at first, but it gives them something different to peck at in their box. When the chicks are a few weeks old, we also start putting them outside in a small birdcage for a few hours to that they can experience being on the grass, then its not such a shock for them when they move into a chicken tractor.

I’m not sure if this really necessary, but we usually “teach” the chicks to eat their food by tapping a finger in the food dish. This results in lots of chicks running over to your hand to see what you’re doing and a few will then try eating the food. After that, they are usually pretty quick to work out where the food is.

Moving chicks into a chicken tractor
The transition from the chicks living in the brooder box to moving into chicken tractors can be difficult to time, as it depends on your outside overnight temperatures. Ideally we hatch the chicks in spring or summer, so that they can move out after only 6 weeks, before they have all their feathers, because it is usually plenty warm enough by then. Otherwise they have to stay in their brooder box longer and once they reach that noisy messy stage I can't wait for them to move out!

Even though it is warm enough, we find that when we put chicks out in the tractor for the first few nights they need to 'tucked in' at dusk because they are so used to living in a box and not having open sides, its quite scary for them. This means draping tarps, old sheets, towels and blankets over the tractor so that they feel like they're still in a solid box. Otherwise they spend the night trying to stick their little heads out of the mesh and sometimes they manage to squeeze out. We only have to do this for about a week until they get used to it. This also helps to keep the dew off their grass and keep out any draughts, while they acclimatise to not having the heat lamp above them at night.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Design and Use a Chicken Tractor - blurb and contents

I've written over 5000 words, so I thought it was time to share the blurb and contents for the book. This could change, but its what I think I'll include at this stage:

Ever wondered about keeping your chickens in a chicken tractor? That’s just a fancy name for a chicken pen on wheels. Your chickens get access to fresh grass and bugs, and you get peace of mind that they are safe from predators and you never have to clean out a chicken run again! With a bit of thought, you can design a chicken tractor to work in nearly any situation. This ebook explains how chicken tractors are used by the author, and others, and then lists all the design considerations so that you can build one yourself to suit your climate, terrain and personal chicken keeping goals. As a bonus, the final section of the ebook contains firsthand experience with a number of chicken keeping challenges, from egg-eating hens to trimming a rooster’s spurs, and finally how to butcher a chicken. If you’ve thought about using a chicken tractor, but didn’t know where to start, this ebook will give you enough information to
understand how to design and use a chicken tractor yourself.

1. Introduction
1.1. About us
1.2. About this book
1.3. Conversion of units
1.4. Chicken tractor terminology

2. Chicken tractor basics 
2.1. What is a chicken tractor?
2.2. Advantages
2.3. Disadvantages

3. Examples of chicken tractors
3.1. How do we use chicken tractors
3.2. Joel Salatin – Pastured Poultry Profits
3.3. Linda Woodrow – Permaculture Home Garden
3.4. Chicken Tractor: The Permaculture Guide to Happy Hens and Healthy Soil
3.5. Toby Hemenway. - Gaia’s Garden

4. Design and construction considerations
4.1. Construction materials
4.2. Mobility and weight
4.3. Climate
4.4. Size
4.5. Layers or meat chickens
4.6. Predators and pests
4.1. Mesh size
4.2. Provision of food and water in the tractor
4.1. Putting it all together

5. How to use a chicken tractor
5.1. How to accustom chickens to a chicken tractor
5.2. When and how to move the tractor
5.3. How to combine chickens and gardens

6. General Chicken Tips
6.1. Using an incubator
6.2. Using (and making) a broody box
6.3. Ideas for feeding chickens
6.4. Egg eating hens
6.5. Dealing with clucky hens
6.6. How to catch a rooster
6.7. Trimming a rooster’s spurs
6.8. Keeping multiple roosters (peacefully)
6.9. Butchering chickens

7. References

Appendix A: Photos of our chicken tractors
Appendix B: Useful chicken tractor websites

What do you think?  Did I miss anything?  What else do you want to know about chicken tractors?

Friday, January 23, 2015

Incubating chicken eggs and brooding chicks

We just hatched 24 chicks in our incubator!  They are so cute when they first hatch.

Here's some photos of our latest hatch and a few posts explaining how and why we hatch chicks:
  • Incubating chicken eggs - there are lots of factors that affect hatch rate, here's how to get the best results from your incubator

chicken tractor ebook: hatching chicks

Taz demonstrates the dog-proof brooder box

Have you hatched or raised chicks?  Any tips to share?

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Chicken tractor ebook - coming soon

We have been keeping chickens in homemade chicken tractors for nearly ten years. I have written a few blog posts about chicken tractors, and they are some of my most popular blog posts, so it is clearly a topic that many people want to know more about. I am currently writing an eBook to explain more about how you can design, construct and use a chicken tractor to suit your needs. 

I haven't included any particular designs because I don’t believe that there is a one-size-fits-all solution. The best chicken tractor for your needs is going to depend on your property, your climate and the type and number of chickens that you want to keep. I hope that I will cover most of the aspects that you need to consider so that you can design, construct and use a chicken tractor that is most suited to your individual requirements.

I don't know why my chicken tractor posts have been so popular! I'm sure plenty of others have written about them too. When I realised that the first post had a lot of page views, I wrote some more posts to explain the concept in more detail, I was also asked to do a guest post on chicken tractors, which helped me to answer even more questions about chicken tractors. And one more post with step by step instructions showing how we build a chicken tractor. We are really happy with the chicken tractors we made, we now have four big ones and two small ones. The best part is that we never have to clean out a chicken pen, we just move the tractor to fresh ground and we have seen a huge improvement in the pasture that the tractors have moved over. We let the chickens free-range from the tractors, but if we need to keep them locked up for some reason, we can just move them more frequently. The tractors are predator proof, and if we notice any evidence of digging around them, we just move them over (we don't have anything that can dig under in a night).

Catch up on my chicken tractor posts here:

Mobile chicken tractors vs fixed pen Mar 14, 2011

How to build a chicken tractor May 14, 2012

How to use a chicken tractor May 7, 2012

Chicken tractor guest post May 29, 2013

And check back soon to buy your copy of the full ebook!

Tell me, do you use chicken tractors too?  What do you want to know about them?