From the outset of this blog entry, I have to confess that this chicken tractor was a joint project between me and my husband. And when I say "joint", I mean that I came up with the general design and my husband implemented it. I almost hate to post it as my first entry, since I lamed out on in a considerable way on this particular project, but the chicken tractor ended up being so cool in the end, that I have to get it out there. Plus, I am going to finish off the rest of the project: nesting boxes with easy access to the eggs and wintertime (removable?) insulation.
What is a chicken tractor, you ask? Why chickens might be another question that any reasonable urban dweller would ask of another urban dweller who has chosen to bring an animal into his or her backyard that has historically been sequestered to more agricultural settings. To answer the second question: there is a whole movement call "urban farming" that I won't get into here. But raising a handful of chickens in your own backyard is definitely part of the concept. Back to the first question: a chicken tractor is simply a moveable chicken coop/pen. Chickens in a "chicken tractor" convert your kitchen scraps to rich garden fertilizer (manure), fertilize your lawn, one area at a time, get up to 30% of their nutrients from fresh grass (since they will not have worn down their enclosed pen area to dirt if they are moved every few days), get a lot of nice protein that is passed on to their eggs from bugs, and, oh yeah, supply the family with fresh eggs!
But the biggest reason to have chickens is for the kiddos. They love them. The love holding them, taking care of them. And they will really benefit from fresh eggs and the simple "chores" of fetching them.
I have always wanted chickens, and since Manhattan passed an ordinance last spring to allow chickens, we decided to jump in this spring. Here are some shots of the process and the finished product. Which again, I must confess, are most of my husband's work with a lot of design input from me. I will step in to finish the nesting boxes and insulation. (I am receiving organic wool insulation from a place up in the highline in Montana next week. (www.montanagreeninsulation.com.))