How often to move the chicken tractor?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Suzannah, May 24, 2010.

  1. Suzannah

    Suzannah Out Of The Brooder

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    Apr 18, 2010
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    I have two pullets in a new chicken tractor; they have been in the same place for 8 days. Mostly they are pooping the straw in the covered area and eating/scratching in the run, so the ground isn't too funky. There is still grass, and they are still scratching around (I don't care if they scratch down to the dirt where they are). How often should I move the tractor? It isn't stinky, and there are no flies, and the girls seem content, so what are "rules" for how long they should be in one place?

    I don't know where I should put this question, so if it needs to be moved feel free!!
     
  2. WoodlandWoman

    WoodlandWoman Overrun With Chickens

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    I just move it as often as I need to, so that they don't do too much damage to the grass. It depends on how much space they have, the time of year, how much rain you're getting, how strong the grass is growing, those types of things. I've had times when I had to move a tractor every day and other times when once a week was enough.
     
  3. kota1369

    kota1369 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have 4 chickens in a tractor and it is their permanent spot. I try to move them every 3 days or so. I live in an older neighborhood and the yard had not been loved in a long time and there were lots of bugs, fleas, ants galore, and roaches ando god knows what else that I couldnt see. The chickens fertalize my grass and eat the bugs in that spot and eat the weeds. I love it! I think it all depends on whether its currantly in a spot you care about. I also move the tractor over ant hills and will leave it there for 3-5 days depending on how the grass is handling it all. I have noticed a huge difference in the bug population this year. Way!!!!!!!! Less Unfortunately, since my tractor is their permanent coop when not free ranging it is extremely heavy. There are always trade offs for the security of your animals.

    Enjoy your ladies

    The lady with 4 dogs, 4 city chickens, 4 meat rabbits, 7 kits and a lizard
     
  4. Olive Hill

    Olive Hill Overrun With Chickens

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    Like WoodlandWoman pointed out, what time of year it is, what the climate is there, what kind of grasses you're growing, what the concentration of the chickens inside the tractor is, etc will all play a role in when it needs to be moved. "As needed" is the best policy. That said, while you might not mind if they scratch it down to dirt, best management of your ground is to move it long before they get to that point so that the plant life can renew itself and replenish in order to support them in the future.
     
  5. Suzannah

    Suzannah Out Of The Brooder

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    Apr 18, 2010
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    The reason I don't really mind them getting rid of the grass is because we will be putting two more garden beds where they are (next year), and we would have to dig it up anyway. I can see moving it for more access to bugs, although they seem somewhat clueless when it comes to scratching around. Maybe I am feeding them too much...

    We also have five acres, so I have lots of places to move them. The place where they are now is mostly fescue and weeds, and the pastures are fescue, winter rye and weeds. And lots of ants; love that suggestion, parking on an anthill, and if the tractor was easier to move I would do that!! This is our first tractor, though, so I think it is temporary. It needs some modifying.

    Woodland Woman, why does rain come into play?

    I am enjoying them tremendously. I call them the Chicken Sisters since I cannot tell them apart, and I am enjoying getting to know them.
     
  6. Olive Hill

    Olive Hill Overrun With Chickens

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    Rain makes plants grow. Without enough of it, the plants don't grow as quickly. The chickens eat it down faster and need to be moved sooner.

    Alternately, with too much of it the ground become soft and their scratching can tear it up. If you live in an area prone to very wet seasons it may be a good idea to choose one designated sacrifice area.
     
  7. Suzannah

    Suzannah Out Of The Brooder

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    Apr 18, 2010
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    Chickens are just small horses - same issues! I have a sacrifice area for my horses when it rains so they don't tear up the pastures. The area the chickens are in now is kind of like their sacrifice area because I don't care if it gets torn up.

    I don't see them eating much grass, though. Just walking on it, and there are two places where they have obviously been scratching.
     
  8. A.T. Hagan

    A.T. Hagan Don't Panic

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    Mine are moved every day unless we get home after dark or some such.

    But how often one should be moved really depends on what you're trying to accomplish. If you want the birds to destroy the grass and clear the ground then leave them in place for as long as it takes for them to do so.

    If you want minimal sod damage and the birds to be able to forage as much of their feed as they can then move them at least once a day, maybe more depending on your number of birds and the square footage they are in.

    Somewhere between one to three days is what most folks do in my experience.
     
  9. Hooligans7

    Hooligans7 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Our soil is poor and rocky. The thin top soil tends to compact easily and produces only sparse weeds, so we leave the chicken tractor in the same place for about two months, tossing in new straw from time to time. When we move it, the area looks like rough dirt and straw at first, but after a few rains, we see dense, green grass and weeds starting to grow. We live in the country, so our "lawn" is whatever wants to grow. In the past I have sowed red clover for deer forage with limited success due to the poor soil.
    So, whatever the chickens are doing and no matter how rough the ground looks after moving the chicken tractor, it is helping the soil a great deal. My chickens will eventually provide a lawn I might even have to mow (or perhaps a couple of goats could handle it! Ha.) I allow my chickens to free range in the afternoon, so they eat quite bit of greens themselves. I put their coop litter in the compost for eventual garden fertilizer.
    All that to say, move your chicken tractor when your chickens have tilled and nourished the soil according to your needs.
     
  10. akhadley

    akhadley Out Of The Brooder

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    Feb 17, 2014
    I live in a fourplex so my green space is very limited (see photos). I have just 3 chickens and what I have is a tractor, but it is very heavy to move. I was using it's location as a permanent spot (next to the garden, you can see how brown and dead it is) but I've been having a big problem with tape worm, so I decided that I'll try to move the tractor (it's new spot is in one of the photos). My problem is I don't know how often to move it based on worm issues and based on my space issues. I figure I probably have maybe 4 or 5 different spots I can rotate it through. Right now it is "dry season" (I live on Guam so only have rainy and dry season) so I don't have to worry too much about rain. But during rainy season, the spot by the garden is just about the only spot that can stay really dry. *sigh* I'd prefer to keep the tractor in one spot but I've had a really tough time with worms and so am trying to do everything possible to keep them out of the picture.


    So, for now, based on worm issues and space limitations how often should I be moving their tractor? During the morning and evening on weekdays for an hour or so I let them free range and then during the weekend they are out in the yard free ranging most of the day so they aren't confined all the time.


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