chicken tractor v. chicken-proof garden

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Penny P, Aug 27, 2013.

  1. Penny P

    Penny P In the Brooder

    Aug 27, 2013
    Hello, all! I hope I'm posting this in the right section...I looked around, and this seemed like the most appropriate place, but please advise otherwise if necessary. The school I work for acquired 7 chicks last spring (6 survived), and later took in 6 more from a family that was moving and could not take them along. I was not involved in the planning and care for the chickens previously, but I will be taking on that responsibility from here forward. I'm thrilled at the idea, but I'm a newbie to chicken care, so I have lots of questions!

    My biggest priority right now is to expand the chickens' daily ranging access. A coop was built for the original chicks, and we attached the family's coop to ours in a sort of doublewide fashion. The coops are set up directly next to our pretty expansive garden (the side of the coop literally touches our garden fence). The chickens currently stay in the adjoined coops all of the time, but I'm trying to figure out the best way to get them some "outside" time each day.

    The first option I considered was a chicken tractor. I've been researching tractors, and I think we can build a couple that would be lightweight (so that the elementary children could move them) and functional for us. Ideally, we would have two, and they would be large enough to fit over our raised beds when desired, so that the chickens can help us weed and fertilize.

    Alternately, perhaps we can just "chicken-proof" our garden so that the chickens can free-range within it. I'm leaning toward this option, as it would be easier for the children to let the chickens in and out, but I'm somewhat concerned about aerial predators and about the chickens destroying our crops.

    Can anyone steer me in one direction or another? Or, is there another idea I haven't yet considered? Thanks in advance!
  2. DavidKerk

    DavidKerk Songster

    Feb 9, 2013
    It is pretty much your choice. Both are great options. If you free range them, however, you'll want to make sure no one has problems with chickens going everywhere within 600 or so yards of your coop. I hope it works out for you!
  3. ChickensAreSweet

    ChickensAreSweet Heavenly Grains for Hens

    You want to fence them OUT of your garden, otherwise it will be toast.

    Also, when they start laying eggs, if you provide a tractor for them during the day they will be wanting to lay eggs so you will have to have a nest. It is really best to let them have access to their coop at all times. That way they will put themselves to bed, as well.

    If you live in a cold climate, chicken tractors aren't great since they need to be inside off the snow for extended periods.
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2013
  4. marktoo

    marktoo Songster

    You may want to also consider chicken moats, it involves the use of wire tunnels to direct the chickens to an unused part of the garden. There are some threads on BYC as well as articles in Mother Earth News. I was considering this but I would have to make too many changes to the yard to make it work.

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