Because in the south, there is no such thing as a baby chicken, a chick or an adolescent domesticated poultry fowl. No, there are Biddies. And I kind of love it.
As mentioned previously we spent nights pouring over coop designs and systems for rotating over the yard. Free range is of course the hip, buzzword-promoted, ideal method. Neil even drafted up a beautiful permanent coop plan with drafting software he has for work! However, I don’t want to lose my flock over the next few months to hawks, vultures, eagles, or any land based predators either. I also don’t want to hunt over my 5 acres and my neighbors property when these biddies start laying (chickens enjoy sending one on a grand treasure hunt come laying time). The solution that combines the benefits of free ranging (don’t turn any one patch of land into a moonscape, can eat greens and bugs and whatever else they scratch up, happier birds) with security and control was a chicken tractor. Now when my husband sent some pictures of the tractor in progress to his co-workers they really couldn’t get what was happening. Pretty sure the word tractor threw them. A chicken powered tractor would indeed be a thing to behold. Alas this is just a movable house with a coop up above a fenced in run that we move to a new spot every night after they go inside to roost.
Neil’s desk frame did double duty for a while…not sure what he’ll use to build the second tractor. As soon as there was some wire to keep them in, we figured the biddies would appreciate some outside time.
Handles for easy moving and lawn chairs for easy upside-down baby bird viewing.
After the coop part was totally finished we moved them outside full time. The heat lamp was plugged in for the last few weeks of cold and they loved it. Turns out people on the internet are pretty clever sometimes and on a forum, a man had explained how he put roof shingles on the ramp into his coop so the tiny ones could still make it in. Brilliant! We did that and it has worked a treat. In this picture you can see the toggle latch on the end. That’s where the nesting box is and it will be super easy to collect eggs. The two big side panels lift off thanks to their handles and inside we are going to put linoleum down on top of the wood planks to make cleaning super quick and painless. There is also a roost inside so our biddies are perfectly comfortable sleeping up there after the sun goes down.
Birds have to eat and drink and our flock of 22 has quickly started to outgrow the chick feeders and waterers. Neil rigged up these PVC solutions that are great…simple to fill and they move when the tractor moves.
The first go we made at farming we were all about functionality, aesthetics be danged. Now that we live somewhere pretty, I want all of our farm to be pretty. So bare fence boards got painted white and there are going to be some furring strips added to the side supports that I’ll also paint white to make the whole thing look better. It’s awesome and each one is big enough for 7-10 birds. Now we just need to make 1 (probably 2) more!