CHICKEN TRAILER WITH A VIEW...
We finally have chickens, a chicken trailer for their home and beautiful EGGS!!!! We have been trialling our chicken trailer for a few months now and we thought we should show you it, how we made it, how it works, the advantages and just show you some cool photos of our chickies!!
Inspired by Joel Salatin and Geoff Lawton's chicken trailer idea, we came up with a design of what we wanted out of a chicken tractor.
Firstly - it needed to be portable so we could transport the chickens to follow the cows around the paddocks. The theory behind this is that there are flies in the cows manure that are pupating and the chickens feed on these. While they are scratching for the pupae and maggots, the chickens also spread the cow manure across the paddock and fertilise it.
Secondly - we wanted to have the potential to hold around 40 chickens with rollaway nest boxes so that the eggs stay clean and they are easy to collect every day.
Thirdly - the chicken trailer needed to be able to capture its own water to feed the chickens.
So after hours of searching AND researching we brought a second hand trailer from trademe as below (the front had mesh on it). Marco and my dad Bruce got busy converting it!
And here is the result below. Ticks all our boxes! The roll away boxes are lined with turf to help the eggs roll away easier and ensure they don't get broken. Guttering comes off the pitch of the roof to catch the water and is stored in 40gallon barrel and automatically fed into a waterer.
Inside we used kanuka poles that we had from our friends farm. There is ventilation that opens and closes and 12 roosting holes - so enough for 48 chickens (lots of room to grow!) We fence the chickens off in a large area so they can do their work. The 6 red shavers we have were raised by children at my dads school - so super friendly, we also have 6 heritage chickens - x2 Buff Sussex, x2 Blue Australorp, x1 Gold Laced Wyandotte and x1 Dorking.
So in theory we move the chickens after about 10 days of the cows being in the paddock, so that the maggots are all fat and juicy, and move the chickens around the paddock every three days. The theory is great....it doesn't always happen. But in general this is what we do. We also often let them out in the afternoon as well, but they usually just come and poo on our deck and peck at our windows...they do tend to go home to roost at night though. We have looked at plans for putting a separate compost trailer in with the chickens when we have lots of scraps and garden waste so that it is not spread all over the paddock and we can use it for the gardens/compost as we could collect it easy.
We feed our chickens selected food scraps, organic pellets, (we were doing just soaked organic wheat but didn't seem enough) give them diatomaceous earth for them to bath in (a tub underneath the trailer that gets taken with them - great for mite control too) and we dry our egg shells in our solar dryer and crush them up and give them back to them. We have also started giving them poultry minerals, garlic granules and kelp...nutrient dense eggs right there!!!
Tahl loves to feed the chickens and collect the eggs every morning.