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Chicken Tractor Build

Previously, I posted that we were building a chicken tractor. After a discussion with my mother I realized that some people do not know what this is conceptually. So I am going to help explain what a tractor is? why you use one and some of the other reasons we decided to go with it.

In the easiest terms a chicken tractor is a moveable chicken coop. It provides the farmer with the ability to protect the birds while providing them a pasture to graze on. The chickens with scratch, pick at bugs and grass, and fertilize a section of a field with min work by you. If you leave them in a space to long they can and will take it to bare ground. We plan on moving it daily. This will allow fertilization but also some level of pest management. We have a grasshopper problem and chickens enjoy grubs.

 

They can take on many different shapes and sizes.  They have some general commonalities. They all have open bottoms allowing chickens access to the ground.  They also provide some level of protection from predators. They generally house water and grit and additional food. They also provide some level of weather protection ours will have a tarp.

We elected to go with a tractor of this design for a couple of reasons. 1 being lower costs, 2 it is easily transportable, 3 provides forage for the chickens, 4 allows for reduced costs of raising and housing chickens. There are many many many more. Lets just say that if you are starting out with meat chickens (like we are) you prolly want to keep the investment down as low as possible.

The tractor build was pretty straight forward. First we built a frame. We then built a mirrored frame. 20180304_092545

Plus two end frames Then used all four frames to create a box. Then added some bracing.

 

Now you have a basic open floored box with the sides and tops pretty well braced. Next we stained it and added a lid.  We also built two PVC grain silos to feed the chickens.

 

Then we covered the whole tractor in 1/4 inch hardware cloth. Why not chicken wire? Well this is galvanized stainless steel and is more durable plus has the benefit of a smaller mesh size which we hope will provide additional protection for the chickens.

 

We added a pull rope. The finished internal dimensions are 10 ft x4 ft by 30 inches high. We have the ability to add a roost bar should we wish to do that we also have two shelves for grit and water in the front. It pulls relatively easily across grass. All in all we expect chickens to do well in it.

 

Doug

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Green house Build

We have decided we can use a green house. We also have looked at various types and thought about what works best for our area, our budget and our experince level. The end result is a small greenhouse that we can build relatively cheap. We can use it to produce some t hings for market but also the more important is that we can use it to learn how to work in a green house and what sorts of things are important. Eventually we will be looking at a very large greenhouse for year round production of various types so we need to understand the systems in a way that can only be done by working with them.anna

The source for our green house.  The Plans include supply list.

There are many things that we liked about this green house. You can see that it has sturdy wood construction. We knew we could build it with a couple of people in a weekend. We also knew that it was low cost and that we can adapt it to suit our needs. One of the changes that we did was install anchors, a second door, removed the metal skirt and replaced with clear plastic, added two vents and insulated the gaps.

We decided that we absolutely had to make sure this was adequately anchored. We built anchors that were inexpensive and durable. We made them with J bolts, concrete and cinder blocks.

As you can see this created a block that was weighed down and secured with concrete but also attachable to the sill plate for the structure. This would also actually raise the structure off the ground and reduce the need for pressure treated or cedar lumber thus reducing costs again.

These blocks were then placed into pre dug holes. There are many lessons learned. If you have tough soil use a auger to drill the holes with a shovel to finalize it. It really did make a huge amount of difference in our ability to dig the holes we needed.

The anchoring of the structure is crucial but also leveling at this point. We wanted to make sure that we were square and level to help long term with the building process. We also decided to use some assembly line ideas and mass produce sections when we could.

 

Now the basic structure is coming together and the ribs are assembled.

Once you have the items assembled it goes together relatively quick. As with most construction projects when you place the plastic panels on the structure it really starts to have a rigidity to it. One of the changes we made was auto vents that were boxed out between the ribs and a automatic vent opener was attached. We also added store bought screen doors that made installing doors much easier.

The above image is of the completed greenhouse with plastic wrapped compost ready for planting. The second image is after we realized that we had a hard gravel pack 2-3 inches below the surface I manually removed the dirt screened it and placed the rocks around the perimeter. We also have learned the the vent needs something to keep it from being ripped open during a wind event.

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The finished product. We grew a tomato and peppers last season in it. The gravel caused so many problems that is why I dug it up and removed them. We also had some pest issues which placing the gravel around the outside perimeter should fix. We did not have issues with lack of pollination but were prepared to pollinate by hand.

Hope this was helpful

Doug