The Chicken Tractor

We’ve had a few questions about our chicken tractor, so I thought I might as well put a post together answering them all in one spot…

Beatrice Evie Tilly and Madge

Tilly (now Billy), Madge (now Matt), Beatrice & Evie.

Reuben with Agnes and Betty

Reuben with the new girls, Agnes (on the right) and Betty.

Our flock of four has undergone some changes in the last few weeks. Sadly, Madge and Tilly turned out to be Matt and Billy, and since we aren’t allowed to keep roosters in town, they had to be rehomed. They’ve since been replaced with two more sweet little Wyandotte bantams. Keeping up with the House of Eliott theme, our new girls are named Betty and Agnes. After some initial upset amongst the girls, they have now settled in with Beatrice and Evie really well.

We actually had a bit of a scare with Beatrice this week. She was very unwell and at one point I was quite sure we were going to lose her, but with some antibiotics, two nights spent in a cat carrier indoors (with a hot water bottle!) and lots of love, she recovered. She is back to her cute, friendly, happy self again now. Thank goodness! (She’s got such a sweet temperament, she’s a bit of a favourite around here.)

Chooks

Beatrice and Evie.

Chicken Tractor

Everyone in the tractor, watching me excitedly as I walk over with some fresh silver beet for them.

We first got the idea for our chicken tractor from an episode of Gardening Australia. Our girls have a small coop under our little apple tree where they sleep and lay. It’s big enough for them to wander and scratch about in, but they quickly denuded it of any greenery and we wanted to give them access to fresh grass, weeds, bugs and grubs, so they could scratch and forage. Unfortunately, as much as we’d like to, we can’t let our girls wander free range (because our fences are inadequate and our dogs would like to eat them!) so a chicken tractor was the perfect solution. The tractor allows us to give them access to fresh earth and grass to happily carry out their natural chicken behaviours, digging and fossicking, while staying safe.

On wet or windy days, and days when we aren’t home, the chooks stay in their coop, but when the weather is good and we are at home, we put them out in their tractor. We put them out in the tractor mid to late morning, so they have time to lay in their laying box before they go out, and bring them in just as it starts to cool off before dusk. We move the chicken tractor a few times throughout the day, so they always have access to fresh greenery, bugs and grubs to pick at.

The tractor itself is just a light weight run that we purchased from a discount store. Reubs originally planned to make one, but when we found the perfect thing for a great price, we snapped it up. We bought the run when we only had two chickens and though they are still very happy in their tractor, now that our tiny flock has grown, we are planning to upgrade to a bigger one.

And that’s it really! How we work our chicken tractor. If you keep (or would like to keep) chickens in a small backyard or a space that isn’t safe for free ranging, we highly recommend this system. The girls love having the chance to scratch for bugs and dig in the dirt, and we love hearing their happy, chooky noises from the garden!

Katie xx

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Katie

About Katie

Katie is a tea drinking, jewellery making, op-shopping daydreamer. Katie likes vintage dresses, Pictionary, doilies and colourful tights.

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11 Responses to “The Chicken Tractor”

  1. Bek @ Just For Daisy August 2, 2014 at 8:18 pm #

    Looks great! :) Forgive me but how do you get them into the tractor and back to bed etc. Do you carry them or they are in a routine?!?

    • Katie
      Katie August 2, 2014 at 8:37 pm #

      Yep, we just carry them! They are very friendly and used to being handled so they are no problem to catch. :)

  2. Lemon Freckles August 2, 2014 at 11:17 pm #

    Wow! Looks incredible! We purchased our first home last year with a huge garden so we can get a couple of chickens. How did you find it when your first got them? Any tips for a beginner? :)

    • Katie
      Katie August 3, 2014 at 10:06 am #

      Thanks! I grew up with chickens so it wasn’t unfamiliar territory for me. Though I know if you haven’t kept them before the thought can be a little daunting, it’s honestly really easy! Chickens require very little upkeep or expense. I wrote a “beginners guide to keeping chickens” for Kidspot here. Hope you find it helpful! :)

  3. Melbournegirls August 2, 2014 at 11:29 pm #

    HI
    Do you know where a similar chicken tractor could be purchased … or where did you get yours … great system!
    Love the blog

    • Katie
      Katie August 3, 2014 at 10:08 am #

      Hello! Thank you! I’ve seen similar runs in $2 shops and pet stores. :)

  4. Jane @ Shady Baker August 3, 2014 at 1:24 pm #

    Awesome idea Katie and so simple! I think I need to implement this in my vegetable garden. My chooks might enjoy the ‘holiday’ too! x

  5. Sarah @ Chantille Fleur August 5, 2014 at 11:41 am #

    We run our chickens like this, except for one flock, but they are let out to free range the farm. We actually now have permanent vegetable gardens/pens that the chickens move through, as we now have the room on our farm plus the windy climate didn’t suit our lightweight moveable pens! It’s the best way of keeping chickens, isn’t it? I love watching them gobbling up the greens and scratching around when you move them to a new place. It never gets old. It keeps them healthy too and makes their eggs better quality.
    I’m sorry to hear about Beatrice, I hope she keeps in good health from now on! Chickens can be hard animals to cure, so I was relieved when you said that she was all mended. Chickens seem to hide illness well until it’s almost too late. I always feel like a really bad chicken owner when one comes down with something! :-)

    Hope you have a good week!
    Sarah xx

  6. Yanic A. August 6, 2014 at 1:57 am #

    Just love it. That picture of Reuben and the girls literally made me “awh” out loud.
    We aren’t allowed roosters either. We will have to be extra careful next year when we start our own flock.

  7. veronique August 7, 2014 at 7:45 pm #

    Great post, Katie. Could you show us some pictures of your coop. We are planning to get 4 bantams in spring!

  8. Littlekarstar August 20, 2014 at 10:03 pm #

    Hullo! I follow your blog love your journey. Missing my hens and garden whilst we renovate. Wanted to say please beware foxes!! We are in melbourne and had two flocks taken by foxes – our first flock taken from a tractor like yours in the middle of the day! Just be careful! I used to run a blog: http://Www.thebokflock.blogspot.com so have a look under chickens or chooks as I posted about them a lot. The blog is no longer active but we still love our hens and growing our food!

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