Cool chicken tractor and coop designs in this article will help guide you how to get your chickens or birds mobile. Mobile systems have the benefit of spreading chicken manure strategically to where you need it seasonally. Tractoring grass with chicken beaks means no need to plough or weed an area – the chickens will do it for you and all that manure is perfect to plant a crop or fruit tree into!
Leaving chicken manure strategically in areas you intend to sow to plants, cover crops, green manures, trees or pasture is part of an overall attempt to direct nutrients to where you need them and want them, and avoid build up of nutrients or pollutants in areas that then become a management problem (such as a conventional barn with wastewater lagoons or badly designed compost systems.)
A well managed deep litter system will also work in combination with good composting system that incorporates enough carbon matter to balance the high levels of ammonia and nitrates in chicken manure – if you don’t want to go mobile with your chickens.
Another key benefit of using chicken mobiles on grass or pasture is that the nutrients will stimulate much faster re-growth of pasture, enabling more grazing and a higher level of productivity. If cattle or livestock are integrated into the cycle, it means a higher amount of pasture feed will be available for the animals, contributing to positive outcomes in terms of animal growth and health – all without using artificial fertilizers.
Our friends at Taranaki Farm move chicken egg mobiles onto a patch of grass for a period of 3- 7 days after the cattle have grazed the area intensively for several days. The insects that colonise cattle manure are rich in protein and suitable feed for chickens, particularly after the cattle manure has dried, most pathogens have died. Chickens are very clean animals and keep themselves clean when free to roam pastures and graze insects on the pasture. This process of running chickens after cattle grazing increases total productive output significantly. When combining night time irrigation around the chicken mobiles, the rapid regrowth of pasture covered in chicken manure ensures a quicker recover time for cattle to come back and graze the area. Biomimicry of natural ecosystems where birds follow animal herds around is one way that nature has provided the template that farmers can follow. Lets get mobile!