Over the last several decades, many sustainable farmers have experimented with including chickens, particularly, laying hens into their rotational grazing system. Joel Salatin pioneered these efforts with his small broiler “chicken tractor” and later his hen mobile. Many variations have been made on these over the years.
When we decided to produce eggs, we began to research how to create the most efficient chicken tractor we could. The main flaw we saw with existing designs is the labor required to collect eggs and clean the nesting boxes. We wanted to be able to produce as much as possible with only our labor. So, we looked at the best practices of large commercial producers and looked for ways to incorporate these practices into a small pasture operation.
Adding commercial nesting boxes that would fit into a small building was the most time saving and affordable upgrade. We worked with SKA an Italian producer of center rolling communal nesting boxes (no USA producer would waste their time talking to us about such a small order) to fit their system to our building and use a hand-cranked wheel instead of a motor to run the collection belt. We also worked with Steel Masters engineers to design a skid that would be rigid enough to make their building portable.
You can see more in our video at Building a Better Chicken Tractor.
We are currently experimenting with raising all of our feed, including chickens and pigs, for on farm forage. See our Kickstarter video Forage Feed Project.
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