Busy building large scale chicken tractors

The last couple of weeks, we have been planning and building our next phase in on farm equipment … our Joel Salatin style Chicken Tractors!

We have owned chickens for many years and the eggs produced by home flocks are far superior to store bought ones. So our challenge has been to find a way to provide fresh pasture, insects and quality feed to a commercial number of chickens with a low carbon footprint and a superior predator protection. A pretty hefty list of requirements by any standard!

A few years ago, we fell in love with Joel Salatin and his farming methods. Since then, we have been visiting other farms nearby who have been trying to take the same problems as us. By far, most have adopted Joel’s methods too. So this month, our target was to build our first pastured poultry run … and so far, it’s a resounding success!

Based on Joel’s book, we created a series of panels that we joined together to make a pen. Let me describe it in photo’s for you.

After creating a rough drawing, we set to work measuring, cutting and painting the timber. We decided to paint it to involve the kids and also protect the timber from the elements.

Next, we created a series of frames and double covered them in wire mesh, leaving a long skirt hanging off the external frames as fox protection. In the past, the foxes here have managed to pull wire off to get to our birds and also dig under our fences, hence the skirt.

We used 1800 bird wire, doubled over and tacked every 15cm. If a fox is determined enough to get through that … then he can take all the birds he wants.

Next we connected all the frames together and built the doors. Because it is very hot here, we decided to provide a larger connected shade area for our chickens. This is why half the door is covered in ours rather than having one fully covered and the other just mesh as per Joel’s design.

The bird mesh provided great friction in keeping the doors in place. We then connected a rope and pipe as a handle at the front and used our trusty hardware trolley as the fulcrum at the back.

Here it is in situ, awaiting the new girls.

We peg the skirt down at the edges for extra security. We will keep you posted on how it works out!

Now just to build a few more for the meat birds!