Ahhh chooks. That perfectly multi-purpose permaculture animal. Not only will they lay you an egg-shaped meal every day, but they will scratch up and turn over a piece of land in a matter of days. So why not put this energy to good use all over your permaculture patch and get yourself some backyard chickens?
Chicken tractor or ‘eggmobile’?
This probably depends on the size of your land. Some would describe a chicken tractor as a smaller-scale egg laying operation perfect for a backyard. Something like this:
An ‘eggmobile’ on the other hand might be described as an egg-laying setup used on a farm where a large flock of hens are free ranging on pastures. Like this:
Whatever sort of egg setup you are looking for in your permaculture palace, I have two words for you: Google Images.
Type in “chicken tractor” to Google Images, or maybe try “eggmobile”. Have a look at what everyone else out there is doing. It’s great fun. And you’ll find plenty of inspiration to make your own from free, scavenged or second-hand materials.
Recently we decided to go from a permanent chicken coop to a movable chicken house, so that we could have our scratchy hens out there doing their thing over weedy areas and manured patches down the paddock.
We took an old farm trailer and have so far had the tyres fixed, and have some wire mesh at the ready as the base (easy for chook droppings to fall through). Scavenged steel for the frames and sides, and we found some core flute under the house to use for insulation.
A work in progress:
Or go ready-made
You may not have the time or inclination to make yourself a chicken tractor. If not, there are plenty of options to make use of someone else’s skills and buy yourself a ready-made version.
Or you might do a bit of both, like we did. We bought a fantastic chook feeder that allows our hens to eat the grain (once they are trained to use it) while keeping out wild birds and rats. We’re planning to fix this feeder to our home-made trailer, and Bob’s your uncle.
Trawl the web and you’ll find free instructions to make movable chook houses out of bamboo, old trailers, pallets, polypipe, and even an old table! Here are a few links to get your started.
– Emily Stokes