Chicken tractor vs free range

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Scooter&Suzie, Jan 24, 2013.

  1. Scooter&Suzie

    Scooter&Suzie Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 23, 2011
    This might not be in the best spot in the forum, but it was the best match I could find.

    I am doing a paper, just a paragraph long, on a chicken tractor vs free ranging. I need to know what is different and what is alike.

    Here is what I have so far:

    Chicken tractor - Chickens are contained and cannot get into trouble in the garden or with neighbors, they are protected from predators, and constraints chickens to a small area.

    Free-range - Chickens are able to go where they shouldn't, they can run around as much as they want to and aren't limited to space, and they are not protected from predators.

    Both: They can have a constant supply of greens, bugs, and pebbles.

    I'm trying to think of more! Any ideas are appreciated, even if they aren't direct, they can give me an idea.

    Last edited: Jan 24, 2013
  2. Time-Out

    Time-Out Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 29, 2011
    The Peak District, UK
    I disagree with the free-rangers getting into neighbours' yards. The person might have acres and acres, or might have good fencing.
    A free-range chicken will have sunning spots, dustbaths and gets more excercise.
    A tractor mean the ground is stripped bare very quickly. You need enough land to be able to give the grass a rest. A garden that is big enough to free-range a few hens might not be big enough for a tractor. I know that's the case in my garden.
    You can free-range on a hill. It's a bit more difficult with a tractor.
  3. Clay Mudd

    Clay Mudd Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 28, 2011
    South MS swamps
    Here's an interesting article on pros and cons of various systems of raising chickens, including tractors and free ranging.

    I don't necessarily agree with all his conclusions, but he does a good job at looking at the factors involved.
  4. RWD

    RWD Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 2, 2011
    Wartrace TN.
    Free range is the ideal situation for the chicken, sadly few people can allow free ranging due to predators, roads, neighbors, flowers, gardens, and pets. Portable coops are vastly better than a static house and run, and provide a few of the free ranging benefits to the chickens.
  5. Scooter&Suzie

    Scooter&Suzie Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 23, 2011
    I guess I will need to add that the chickens getting into neighbors yards would only be a problem if you only have a couple acres, like we do. Thanks for all the other facts - I hadn't thought of those! After looking at all the benefits of free ranging, I wish I could, but it is illegal where I am [​IMG]
  6. Time-Out

    Time-Out Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 29, 2011
    The Peak District, UK
    I didn't know it was illegal in some places. I wish I could free-range all my chickens, but I'd only do it if they were living at home with me. Most of them are on an allotment. Too many passers-by for my liking :-(
    The four I have at home, have the garden to range. It's a very small garden, maybe 1500sqft, but a funny shape and on a hill. There are solid fences between us and the neighbours, so the chickens can't get through there. If they were to go anywhere, it'd be over the wall at the back, into the field, but they don't seem inclined to.
    If I were to build a tractor that gave them enough space to run and fly like they do, it'd take up half the garden and defeat the whole point in a tractor.
  7. Scooter&Suzie

    Scooter&Suzie Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 23, 2011
    It's just my townships laws - Like how some people can't have roosters, or they have to be 75 yards from neighbors. Where I am, you can't let your chickens run at large. So, I guess that would mean free range. Once I let my chickens out, and they snuck into the neighbors yard. Fortunately, they come running for food.
  8. chrissyr

    chrissyr Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 25, 2013
    Just found this site and love it! I've had chickens for the past 16 years, and before that learned the love of them from my sweet grandma :)
    I've debated about tractors vs free range. We have a small ranchette (1.5 acres) so I'm a bit limited. The best grass I have is my lawn, and when I let the chickens out I have to watch the younger dogs a bit closer and clean up after the hens tearing in my flower beds. My husband isn't thrilled with that.
    They have an extremely large run now, but no grass.
    So I've decided to grass a really nice sized run separately, then open that to them a couple of hours a day. That way they don't tear up the new run, and my husband is happy that the chickens aren't tearing everything up. They will still have their normal run for the rest of the day.
    If I had more acreage a tractor would probably be a better option, but I think this will work for me.
  9. CogSci

    CogSci New Egg

    Jan 26, 2013
    Quote:Interesting article! Made me re-think my chicken tractor design, which is still in the planning stage. I think, I'll get something like this tractor plus some temporary fence with bird netting across. The whole arrangement could be moved around on my property (2/3 acre) ever so often. Does this sound OK? I'm planning to get 3-4 chickens for eggs only; RIR, maybe?
  10. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

    Sep 19, 2009
    Holts Summit, Missouri
    Forage is not quite same nor is bird impact on forage. Tractored birds have less choice and they tend to have greater impact on forage with respect to how much they consume and scratching being more uniformly spread out. Free-range birds tend to cherry pick forage and leave some areas alone. Also consider feces. Tractored birds leave more feces in a concentrated area which can be beneficial to surviving plant community.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by