Meyer Hatchery Chicken Tractor Tour
In this Coop Tour, Amanda and Marie from the Remote Team show us how Marie raises broilers in a chicken tractor system on her farm. Marie raises her Cornish cross meat birds in this chicken tractor set up. She raises 8 batches a year of 25 birds at a time, and this year she is trying all females instead of a straight run mix. So far she has noticed that the females tend to be less pushy at feeding time than the males.
Marie moves her chickens into the tractor coop when they are old enough to be out of the brooder and feathered at around 2-3 weeks old. Right now this batch is 5 weeks old and each weighs around 5-6 lbs; they will be processed around 6-7 weeks old.
By raising your meat birds using a chicken tractor, they get the benefits of eating grass and bugs like they would if they were free ranging, but with the benefit of protection from predators. Marie says she has hawks fly over daily and would lose too many birds if she free ranged them on open pasture. She says that since the tractors are moved daily, other predators can’t predict the locations of the birds so it cuts down on ground predators like raccoons as well.
Marie moves the chicken tractor onto fresh grass daily and twice a day or more once the birds get bigger. Even though they have access to fresh grass to eat, Marie supplements them with broiler feed to make sure they grow to a good finishing weight. The feeder she uses is a vinyl gutter hung on chains inside the tractor. The swinging motion of this feeder prevents the birds from jumping into the feeder which keeps the feed clean and reduces waste. She can raise the height of the feeder to keep the chickens standing tall by adjusting the length of the chains attached to the top of the tractor with hooks. Marie fills the feeder every morning and allows the chickens to feed free choice. The watering system is made up of a bucket on top of the tractor which attaches to a PVC pipe with plastic watering cups inside the tractor. Broilers drink a lot of water and this system makes it very easy to refill the water.te.
This chicken tractor is Marie’s second design and has a few added features based on the improvements she wanted to make from the first design. The roof-flap can be raised or lowered to hold in more heat or create more ventilation. An additional flap on the other side can be raised to allow the breeze to flow through the tractor or closed to keep out driving wind and rain. Broilers can handle cold, wet, or wind, but only one at a time and any more than that can cause them to get sick.
You can build a simple chicken tractor using a variety of materials you probably already have around your farm. Raising your meat birds in a chicken tractor is an inexpensive way to safely raise your birds with the benefit of free range with the added protection of a coop. The chickens will help to fertilize your grass while growing into a healthy, home-grown protein source for your family. It’s a win-win!.
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