Chicken Tractor Question

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by lifeteacher, Nov 10, 2016.

  1. lifeteacher

    lifeteacher Out Of The Brooder

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    May 12, 2015
    My DH is constructing a great Ch.tractor which has open hardware cloth on underside. With winter coming I'm wondering how to keep their little bustles toasty. We live in GA with fairly mild winters, rare snow, a few ice storms.
     
  2. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    If laying hens they will be able handle it well. If meat birds they will have a tougher time early in production cycle.

    Which are you doing?
     
  3. lifeteacher

    lifeteacher Out Of The Brooder

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    May 12, 2015
    Only 4-6 laying hens at this time.
     
  4. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    GIve them a small roost about 6" above floor is they do not have one already. Consider adding a flake of hay so they can scratch through it and stand on it when loafing. Watch claws for abnormal growth when on hardware cloth for extended periods. That a I problem I am dealing with.

    Using supplemental lighting?
     
  5. lifeteacher

    lifeteacher Out Of The Brooder

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    May 12, 2015
    The roosts are higher than 6", several levels. Hay is a good idea or what about leaves...abundance of those laying around. They love to scratch around in the leaves! I dont have lighting at the moment. They will be released to free range for several hours each day. They will also have a smallish run directly under the tractor.
     
  6. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    I prefer legume hay as it can also be eaten directly. Tree leaves generally not directly consumed and I would use them in compost heap birds can get to. I think you are far enough north that supplemental light might keep them more in lay.
     
  7. lifeteacher

    lifeteacher Out Of The Brooder

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    May 12, 2015
    Where does one purchase legume hay. I've never seen it at Tractor Supply. They're not laying very well right now, but I attribute that to the construction noise. I'll put a light on a timer. How many hrs a day is healthy for them without overstressing?
     
  8. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    See following link.

    http://articles.extension.org/pages/71004/raising-chickens-for-egg-production

    A total of 14 h light per day is required to keep up sustained lay.


    The stressful part comes from the being in sustained lay rather than the lighting itself. When temperatures get really low here, egg production drops off anyway. If I were doing as you are then supplemental light would not be used during the harshest part of winter. Then as temperature starts to pick up supplemental light is applied and that will not need to last long as natural lighting will already be on the rise. Most people concerned about stressing birds with sustained egg production are assuming the birds are indoors in a thermally neutral environment. Yours, like mine have it a little tougher when it get cold. To compensate provide a more nutrient dense feed like a "flock raiser" with free-choice access to oyster shell. I go even higher with a limited ration of a chick grower when birds are free-range. That keeps them out foraging but ensures they get some known amount of nutrient intake. Sometime foraging is not all that productive during off season or birds cannot get out enough.

    Legume hay can come in the form of Red Clover or Alfalfa in most areas. Stay away from Soybean hay if you find it as dusty.
     

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