Chicken Tractors and Gardens and Basic Questions

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by wookiee, Jan 10, 2009.

  1. wookiee

    wookiee Out Of The Brooder

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    Dec 31, 2008
    Hi all, I am planning on raising 40 broilers this year. I live in Southern New Hampshire (shortened growing season). I have a 2800 SF garden and about an acre of lawn that I can move the tractors over.

    I have a problem in that I have read Chicken Tractor and believe in the system, but I don't know how to execute for my climate. The book is long on selling the idea and short on the nitty gritty. I was hoping the good people here could answer my very newbie questions.

    1) When can I start with the chickens? Can I get them outside in April, working the garden area until June and still have time to plant some things?
    or
    2) Do I divide my garden area in half and "chicken tractor" half this year, spread a cover crop and garden on the other half, then switch it for next year?
    or
    3) Do I plant my garden in the spring and then put the chickens on it at the end of the growing season, covering and mulching for the winter, and harvest them around October/November?

    Help! How has it worked for you?

    Also, how many SF in the tractor for healthy raising of the 40 broilers? More than 80 SF, I am guessing. I will be using the colored rangers if that makes a difference.

    I want to get my chicken order in, but I have no idea if they should be delivered in March or in August or ???? I don't know personally of anyone local who raises broilers with this method.

    Thanks!
     
  2. urbanagrarian

    urbanagrarian Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Feb 4, 2007
    Massachusetts
    1) When can I start with the chickens? Can I get them outside in April, working the garden area until June and still have time to plant some things?

    I raise Cornish Cross in your approx. climate not colored rangers so my responses are more geared to my experience of cornish cross which take only 8 weeks
    April seems too early in your area especially when the chicks are young. They will need heat until feathered and youwill have many freezing nights in April. I start a batch of cornish X chicks (in Massachusetts) in the brooder in May and then move them outside in June, but watch the temps. I do this to have chicken to eat in as early as possible in July, but I also like to do another batch in August when the weather is hot for brooding and cool when the birds are bigger.

    2) Do I divide my garden area in half and "chicken tractor" half this year, spread a cover crop and garden on the other half, then switch it for next year?

    With the size of your garden, I would consider 'day ranging' them in part of it, I don't know about the breed you are selecting, but cornish are easy to manage and contain because they dont like too fly much.

    Here is a photo of my pen of about a dozen broilers in a corner of the garden I hope the link works

    http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_LsF7wVlEa...Dt9A6qk8/s1600-h/kahlil_guarding_chickens.jpg

    I wouldn't bother with a cover crop. They love weeds! Also throw every weed you pull from your garden to them, They will love them.

    If it's feasible you might consider doing 2 batches of 20 instead of one batch of 40. You will learn a lot on the first batch that you can apply to the 2nd. Its good to start small, but of course maybe you were think of 100 and 40 IS starting small. Gook Luck!​
     
  3. Parson's Wife

    Parson's Wife Blessed Abundantly

    Jan 22, 2008
    Arkansas
    I'm not from your area...but these are things I do know.
    Place your order now...they will not ship chicks until the climate is feasible...but if YOU CHECK with the company you choose, they will tell you for certain. (I've only delt with one, and that was their policy)

    According to your growing season in your area is when you start planting.
    Farmers almanac I found the online link to that awhile back will search it out for you.

    I have a coop, not a tractor...but my garden loves chicken poo....
    Fertilize with that...depending on your size acreage you will be able to run the chickens elsewhere while garden is growing, and you can transport the poo or just let it fertilize the ground where it's at; they are going to have to have feed anyway...plus the free ranging grass...so that will help you with your choice if you only want them for fertilizer and food.
    And as has already been stated. Watch the temps for your new flock. I don't know how your area is...but follow the temp charts on the learning center page here.

    Best wishes on your chickens. [​IMG]

    Here is the link:
    https://www.backyardchickens.com/forum/post.php?tid=66847
    Oh, and I like Cackle Hatchery. [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2009
  4. big greg barker

    big greg barker Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Oct 26, 2008
    central maine
    Hi,
    I'm in Maine, and this is what I plan on doing in my garden of 4000 - 4500 sqft.
    I am building a couple of movable pens that will fit in the rows in my garden. about 2 feet wide, 2 feet tall, and 8 feet long. No flooring. maybe a couple lawnmower wheels on one end for moving. make a small house on one end. big enough for 2 or 3 birds. That way, I can put chickens in the garden for the entire growing season, keep the weeds down, and fertilize all at once.
    It sounds a bit labor intensive, but it beats the heck out of weeding by hand.
    One thing about building your own is they can be custom fit for your application, and they will be a whole lot less expensive.

    Right now, I have 20 layers that will help me in the spring. I am getting a replacement flock of layers from the Feed store (Paris Farmer's Union) along with a bunch of meat birds. They get them in around the first of May. Too late for what you want. I looked at postal regs, and it is illegal for hatcheries to ship to our area before April 15, so you can plan on that date to start your flock.
    You should be able to start planting in your area aound the first couple weeks of May, with peas, spinach, brocolli, cold weather stuff, so what I am doing may also work for you.
    Good luck with it........
     
  5. PurpleChicken

    PurpleChicken Tolerated.....Mostly

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    Iceland
    I'm a little warmer than you down here in CT.

    First, you will be thrilled with the Ranger Broilers but they do take
    10 weeks. You may get 5 pound dressed roos at 8 weeks but if
    you plan on slaughtering all at once I would say wait until 10 days.

    Last year we raised Rangers mid summer. They were in the barn
    and free ranged for a few hours a day.

    In September we got an order of Cornish Crosses. Once my garden
    was picked I put the Cornish (and turkeys and ducks) in the garden
    under a temp green house. The fertilized the heck out of it. I'm glad
    it will have all winter and early spring to mulch and compost down.


    So, if you want early Range Broilers than get them in April and brood them
    for a month. Then you can put them in a tractor with a heat lamp for
    cold nights. I'd let them range a little through your entire garden until
    you start planting.

    Think of Range Broilers as FAT Rhode Island Reds. They act the same.
    Cornish Crosses, the standard broilers, are just fat poopin machines.
    They are efficient and grow fast but they aren't real chickens. [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2009
  6. Bossroo

    Bossroo Chillin' With My Peeps

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    If they aren't real chickens, WHAT ARE THEY if not real chickens?
     
  7. Brunty_Farms

    Brunty_Farms Chillin' With My Peeps

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    They are geneticaly modified.....super duper pooper pigions......[​IMG]
     
  8. wookiee

    wookiee Out Of The Brooder

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    Dec 31, 2008
    Thank you all to the generous replies so far. Very MUCH food for thought. Thank you for the link to the almanac and for the other information. I have been researching as much as possible. I moved to NH from TX, so the climate change takes a little internal clock resetting. Still freezing in April? OK, reset the clock back a month (or two). [​IMG]

    I did take one big step today: I ordered my Colored Rangers for a mid-April delivery, per the suggestions here. I went ahead with a 20 chick batch, also per the suggestions. I will have time for more later in the year if things go well. Plus, I will be culling extra roos from my layer order so I can compare the colored rangers to my "dual purpose" boys.

    I will have many more questions as the big day approaches, but I am confident BYCers will be helpful as always!
     
  9. urbanagrarian

    urbanagrarian Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Feb 4, 2007
    Massachusetts
    I moved to NH from TX, so the climate change takes a little internal clock resetting. Still freezing in April? OK, reset the clock back a month (or two). smile

    You may be shocked to discover tomatos are set out AFTER Memorial day for fear of frost. Changing climates can be so confusing for gardeners, but gardening is more fun when there is a challenge!



    They are geneticaly modified.....super duper pooper pigions......roll

    Aw Brunty & Purple, They are not really GM. yes they are a bit lazy but not so much if put them on pasture young. They poop more because they eat more because they grow faster. I admit do like the taste of an older chicken than 8 weeks, but my Cornish DO taste way better than grocery store chicken. ...and yes they are REAL chickens. They look REAL in the following link don't they. Well all except the very big one with the pointy ears and the big teeth;).

    http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_LsF7wVlEa...Dt9A6qk8/s1600-h/kahlil_guarding_chickens.jpg
     
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2009
  10. PurpleChicken

    PurpleChicken Tolerated.....Mostly

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    Iceland
    Quote:[​IMG] [​IMG] Nice one! Exactly.
     

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