On the previous post you’ll find pictures of the new chicken tractor I’ve been building. It just occured to me that I might need to add WHY I’m building it and WHAT in the world a chicken tractor is supposed to be anyway. It’s not, after all, a tiny tractor pulled by ten thousand chickens! (I wish I could create a picture of that!)
A chicken tractor is a mobile unit which allows the chickens inside to graze on, scratch up, and fertilize the ground the tractor is over. The tractor is moved at regular intervals to give the chickens fresh ground. In this way chickens can work over an entire field in a method like rotational grazing of cattle. This way they work each piece of ground completely before moving on, which in some ways takes the place of tilling and spreading fertilizer with a mechanical tractor or rototiller. Chicken tractors can be of any shape or size. Mine is designed so that it can be pulled by hand by one person. (I might have to give it some wheels). Pastured poultry pens are similar, but are managed differently. While chickens in a chicken tractor are meant to completely clean up that patch of ground (within reason), chickens in a pastured poultry operation eat from the pasture but do not completely decimate it, so that it can regrow for further grazing by other animals, or the chickens again.