Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Banished to the chicken tractor

Fanny, my Speckled Sussex hen, has decided to become broody. She sat on the nest all day yesterday. We were out of town and when we got home, found five eggs under her and one laid outside the nest box. Apparently she wasn't even willing to share the box with her sister, the Partridge Plymouth Rock.

In this picture, taken several months ago, she tolerated the White Dorking hen in the nest box with her.

When I roused her out of the nest this morning, she set up clucking so loud, the wild turkeys came over to see what was going on. They gobbled eagerly to her, but perhaps they don't speak the same dialect.

My husband and I discussed the possibility of getting her some hatching eggs and letting her be a mother, but that would hatch males as well as females and we'd have that Surplus Rooster problem again.

My husband built a chicken tractor for the girls, so putting her in there is one way to persuade her to give up on broodiness. They are all out in the tractor now, happily distracted by fresh grass.

My husband doesn't have experience with chickens, so he was surprised at how dedicated they are to their work and how effective they are at working the soil. He's now eager to get them working all around our yard.

The tractor is a work in progress, but it's adequate to get the girls out and working. The lattice was a former part of a neighbor's fence. It's perfect for protecting the chickens while providing shade and sun.


Stephanie Suesan Smith, Ph.D. said...

I have wanted to make a chicken tractor and it seemed like a huge hassle. I really like the idea of using lattice work to make one. Does it keep dogs out and do you only leave the chickens in it during the day, or at night, too?

PoultryBookstore said...

It definitely took some work. My husband found that the lattice not only protected the chickens, but also added stability to the structure. Netting or hardware cloth wouldn't have done that. They return to their coop at night. The open floor would not be enough protection from predators. How about finding a high school or college student who needs a project for some other reason and hiring him/her to build one? Maybe a local FFA. I know a Boy Scout who built a very nice coop for his Eagle project. Then you would have only the cost of materials and some lunch or other incidentals.