For a few years I planned to get chickens on the farm.
So right around February of this year, I made the decision to jump back into poultry.
I ordered both broilers (meat birds) and layers (for eggs) from McMurray’s Hatchery with a scheduled chick delivery date at the end of March.
It wasn’t a prescient move, but apparently during this time the most serious pandemic I would ever know in my lifetime was raging.
A friend downstate that heads up her county’s Health Department said ” I sincerely hope I am wrong here, but this is going to be bad.”
She said this on Facebook on January 21st and little did we know that she was not wrong.
Among the many issues the corona-virus has exposed in our lives, it has forced many folks to reconsider local food resiliency amid far-reaching disruptions to our fragile national and global food supply chains.
Based on what we’ve been experiencing living in this new normal, my dad says it was a wise move being here on the farm.
“You’re in the right place at the right time,” he said.
He fondly remembers my grandmother, Mama Nilda, getting fresh whole chickens in the Bronx at live markets growing up.
Getting hens with early formed eggs made for delicious yolky soups.
“Viveros,” or live animal markets, somewhat like in Wuhan, have actually grown in numbers in the Bronx.
My dad will be getting to taste the first harvest of our fresh chickens very soon!
What type of Chicken Tractor?
So based on research, and also accounting for the materials I already had on hand, this is what I came up with.
6′ x 10′ Chicken Tractor
Notes on the Chicken Tractor
With two square feet per bird, this tractor will house about 30 birds.
The metal roofing I had from a previous salvage project.
Each sheet was 14 feet long.
I covered 10 feet across the top and wrapped down along the side for extra wind and rain protection.
I used the leftover 4 foot section to keep their feed covered from the elements.
Every morning I move the chicken tractor to new grass.
In their wake, you can see how they forage and see the nitrogen-rich manure they leave behind.
I will have 2 more tractors built for a total rotation of 90 birds in groups of 30 at differing stages of growth.
I’ve already received some preorders for our whole organic chickens on our farm store.
The first batch of broilers was harvested last week.
With the hardware cloth at 1/4″ squares, there have been no issues with predators and I hope it stays that way.