Tuesday, August 18, 2009
We started the Chicken Tractor!
If you ever want to confuse a 3 year old, tell her you're going to build a chicken tractor. She will, naturally, think 'tractor for chickens', but that's not quite what a chicken tractor is. One of her first questions was, 'Will I get to drive it?'
They call them tractors because chickens can use one to do tractor things, like get rid of weeds, eradicate the bugs, fertilize and till the earth. Also, you can move them! This way the hens eat more bugs and plants and less feed. It will be better for them and for us.
This past weekend, we started with three pieces of sturdy fencing called cattle panels. They were on sale at Big R, which helped, but that's what we planned to use all along.
We laid them out so that the three of them are side by side, making a big rectangle. Each panel is 16 feet long and 50 inches tall, so the rectangle we made is 16 feet by 150 inches. After we got them laid out and lined up with one another, we attached wood along the two ends. We used staples and screws to do this.
The cattle panels are sandwiched between two pieces of wood, to make things sturdier. The outer 2x4 is angled and extends past the cattle panel a little. That will give me a place to attach a pull cable.
Next we raised the whole thing up from the midpoint of the cattle panels, and attached the cross pieces. The cattle panels become the side and top.
We used some metal strapping to help hold everything together. We have always been fond of overkill.
Next I got the wire, cutters and pliers and started tying the three cattle panels to one another, so that it's more sturdy and safer for our hens.
After I trimmed and bent wire, I covered each spot with duct tape, to keep us (and animals) from getting snagged. Plus, it wouldn't be a project without duct tape!
We still have to add the end pieces, cover the whole thing with chicken wire, put on a door, etc. etc, but that's it for now. I'll update you when we get more done!