Chicken Tractor – an aid to healthy soil and plants
In permaculture terms the chicken tractor is a prime example of a symbiotic relationship between humans, animals (in this case chickens), earth and plants. This is a popular method adopted worldwide by permaculture farmers to enhance the quality of their planting soil whilst working with nature and not against it.
The chicken tractor can best be described as a ‘movable’ chicken coop normally made from light weight material with no floor (easily movable). This allows your chickens to scratch and feed in keeping with their natural lifestyle instincts in a specific area. The coop contains a thick layer of organic material, kitchen green vegetable scraps, etc. which is turned into rich organic compost with the added benefit of lots of chicken poo. Unlike the conventional ‘bare ground’ chicken coop which requires regular cleaning and stench control, the chicken tractor method is low maintenance and the chicken droppings put to good use.
When the compost is ready the whole coop is moved to a new location and the process started all over again. Vegetables and other edible plants are then introduced to the original area coop area that has been transformed into the perfect bed for a food garden.
The number of chickens used will depend on the size of the coop and overcrowding should be avoided. An additional advantage of this method is the constant availability of fresh ‘free range’ eggs.