Chicken Power in the garden

Chicken Cruiser, Mobile Chicken Coop, Chicken Tractor, or Chicken Ark in our neck of the woods, the names all mean the samething in general, a moveable pen where your chickens get to be both confined(aka Safe) and yet have a fresh feast available to them in the form of greens, bugs, slugs, worms and many more, while giving them excerise/fresh air and meeting all their natural chicken urges all in one.

Now when most folks talk about a chicken tractor in my area, its one of the bigger “eco” chicken farmers that have 50 to 100 chickens in a huge flat trailer that gets moved around with the tractor or truck,  with batches coming and going between eight to twelve weeks and the going rate for those pasture raised birds locally are around 5 dollars per pd of dressed out birds, in a way its a best of both worlds, the produces get all the safety for the birds, and the much! higher income, and the buyers get the health benafits of the birds being on pasture while still getting O so tender confined chicken meat with more flavor..

Now a Ark or Cruiser is different then the tractor in two main ways,

a) Size, the typical Cruiser holds half a dozen to a dozen birds at a time, a Ark hold 4 to 6 birds typically, and they are movable by one person with a little work and fairly easily by two peaple.

b) They still give alot of the bonus’s listed above but they are used in the garden for the purpose of weed and pest control but also as tillers, being allowed to bring the garden patch right down to bare soil, where if you throw in some half done compost, they will also work it in for you.

Now most Cruisers or Arks on the small side typically are 8 feet long by 4 feet wide by 2 feet high give or take, however do you think I could get that thought though to my Dh?

Because we do have a issue with fox’s mainly, he was not about to build me a nice lightweight ark, so he layed out the materials needed to make the 8 foot by 4 foot and then asked me to pick it up and haul it, he won.. so instead I am getting a couple mini arks tailored for our garden, he also did not want to redo the size of our beds from 3 feet to 4 feet, so our arks are 4 feet long, 3 feet wide and just over 2 feet high, It has a solid two peice roof, a wire front for air and light, and three solid sides, with the open bottom for eating and tilling, I’m not so worried about anyone digging down to get in, but if we ever see signs that is happening or have loss, I will add a hot wire with a 9 volt charger to the outside.

This also allows me to keep back my older good broody hens, that are not as heavy of a egg layer any more, not only do they earn their keep by being broody hens, but they also earn their keep with much reduced feed costs by being chicken tillers.

I would love to go out and take a picture of my finished mini Chicken Ark but its been raining since I woke up but I will do a second post to show the before and after and how its going in the garden with the girls at work.


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5 Responses to Chicken Power in the garden

  1. Inwick says:

    It will be great to see a picture. I’m a big fan of the moveable Chicken Ark. Would love to try it for Rabbits too sometime. Mine is partly a two story affair, for just 2 chickens. Upstairs is a perching area, food hopper access – I can fill that from outside – and 2 nest boxes. Downstairs is the garden scratching area where the real work is done, and I hang the water there too. The upstairs part is pretty small, so I doubled the downstairs scratching area by adding a netting run on the side. Overall it is about 5 1/2 feet by 2 1/2 feet with the run, but it takes two to move it really due to the upstairs part. I usually put some heavy boards or slabs on the ground around it, so if Mr Foxy wants to dig, at least he has to dig a fairly long way. Your hot wire idea is a good alternative though.

    • Hi, I like the idea of the two story, I can see just what you are saying, otherwise, you loose the floor space to the nest box and the feeders will have to think about that, I can also see how it would make it harder to move around.. hmmm still good thoughts Well this is our first one, so will see what improvements the next one or two we have planned have done to them.

  2. Lynn says:

    Can’t wait to see a picture so we can consider building one. The idea has crossed my mind — containing chickens within a garden zone. I don’t want them running outside of their range area because they’ll destroy perennial beds. Still raining here but it’s on the way out.

    • Picture are up on the second post, if you want pretty its not it, but it will function for the job required, I will paint the outside wood to help it last longer, I normally let them out in much bigger flocks in the very early spring at the compost piles and also in certain non-perennial area’s of the garden, we have a snow fence on instant fence posts that we put up around the no-go zones in the main garden, as they had so much other room, they don’t normally push the issue, but I to wanted a way to use them the whole season long, once things are planted, I tend to move to the ducks as they are lighter on the plants while they eat the bugs/slugs first pass.

  3. Deb Weyrich-Cody says:

    Hey FarmGal, Sounds like another of your awesome ideas. Particularly smitten by the “no-till” aspect. I HATE hoeing – it let’s out too much precious moisture when you can least afford it)

    But, speaking of slugs… Anybody else ever seen one of these? (Wish I had taken a photo, but I was wet and unhappy because it was raining out and well after dark) A couple of nights ago we, the dog and I, went to clean leaves out the pool overflow basket. Well, he’d brought something inside and was goofing around with it on his bed. When I checked to see what he was doing, there was a slug the size of a walnut, dark brown with black “camo” mottling. I have never seen a slug that size before. Another invasive species perhaps? It got flushed down the toilet anyway… maybe keep those giant snakes and ‘gators company (actually, more like dead mice and goldfish in our neck of the woods; )

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