Anyone read the book Chicken Tractor by Andy Lee and Pat Foreman?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by daeichler, Jun 28, 2008.

  1. daeichler

    daeichler In the Brooder

    Jun 28, 2008
    I am wanting to raise some chickens (have never done this before) and found an interesting book called Chicken Tractor (third edition, 2004) by Andy Lee and Pat Foreman. In that book, they describe their best design for a 4' x 20' chicken tractor. I am interested in building a couple of these, using their Deep Mulch System, to convert some overgrown areas in my garden into very fertile planting raised beds.

    According to what they suggest, I can build the tractors and put 20 broilers in each, for 5 weeks, adding about an inch of dry hay each day for bedding. After 5 weeks, I'll have 20 broilers (per tractor) to butcher and will be left with an awesome raised bed to winter over and be ready to accept plantings in the Spring (they did say that the top part of this raised bed was not completely ready and needed to receive about an inch of compost or topsoil when they did their Spring plantings).

    Anyhow, I wonder if any folks on BYC have tried this and 1) have suggestions for improvements on the Chicken Tractor designs which Lee and Foreman provided in Chicken Tractor, and 2) if it worked out as well for you as Lee and Foreman said this practice has worked for them.

    I think I'd enjoy getting some egg layers as well, but that will take a bit more digesting of all the different thoughts on coop design/construction, and then build a coop this Fall or next Spring.


    Last edited: Jun 29, 2008
  2. daeichler

    daeichler In the Brooder

    Jun 28, 2008
    Has anyone at least tried a deep mulching system? With success?


  3. chickiebaby

    chickiebaby Songster

    Jan 2, 2008
    western mass
    there are tons of posts about deep litter method, which I am guessing is what you mean by deep mulching. You could search here for deep litter or DLM. Many proponents.

  4. digitS'

    digitS' Songster

    Dec 12, 2007
    ID/WA border
    David, I'm a little surprised that you didn't get more folks talking about their experiences.

    I read the Chicken Tractor - years ago and I think twice.

    I'm a gardener and I just couldn't see having a tractor any length of time right IN the garden during the growing season. My salad veggies would be next door to all that chicken poop :eek:! During March & April, there'd be too much rain, wind and cold for such an exposed arrangement. October would have some of the same problems . . .

    I've always been willing to compost the litter and move it out into the garden and I imagine that this is the broad experience of most of the people here - many of whom have read this book, I'm sure.

  5. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    I read it before I got chickens. It all seemed like a very nifty set of ideas, even if the details were rather fuzzy and the numbers a bit undependable-sounding.

    Now that I *have* chickens, two (formerly 3) of them in a tractor, I would have to say that Andy Lee was a VERY VERY VERY optimistic kinda guy, if you know what I mean [​IMG]

    IME (and I expect it differs depending on your soil type etc), the tractor DOES NOT work as advertised in Lee's book. If you leave it in one place long enough for them to actually mostly kill the grass, it leaves them living in a stinky mudhole for weeks on end. If you move it as soon as the stinky mudhole effect sets in, the grass grows back within a few weeks as if it had never been tractored. If you give up on trying to use the tractor to open new garden bed space, and just use it to give the chickens access to grass, you end up moving the tractor incredibly frequently -- my 2 hens in a 4x7 (plus house on top) tractor have to be moved once or twice PER DAY to prevent a bare spot in the lawn.

    The only thing I did not try was putting the tractor on existing tilled garden beds... because it would be too easy for predators to dig in at night, and mainly b/c I do not WANT the chickens eating all the worms and bugs in my soil [​IMG]

    I am not anti-tractor but in my opinion you need to take that book with about a ton and a half of salt [​IMG]


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