Participants working together to tie on chicken wire

     Recently many of our Grow Appalachia participants have expressed interest in raising chickens, so this past Saturday we held a Chicken Tractor workshop at Pine Mountain for 9 of our Grow Appalachia families. At the workshop we helped each family construct a chicken tractor to take home with them and put to use right away. The day was hard work but it seemed that all our participants really enjoyed the opportunity to build the chicken pens with their families, and Maggie and I were grateful for the chance to do some hands on work with the participants. I think we all went home with a feeling of accomplishment after the workshop. Most of the participants also went home with fully constructed pens in the back of their trucks, with the exception of several families with roofing or chicken wire left to add onto the pens.

GA participants and their
 completed chicken tractor

     For those of you who are thinking “chicken tractors, what the heck is she talking about?” A chicken tractor is a floorless moveable chicken pen. The pens provide shelter, predator protection, and keep the chickens out of places you don’t want them to go (garden, flower bed, porch, etc.) while allowing the chickens to forage on a new area each day. The pens provide a healthy environment for laying hens or broilers to scratch and feed on fresh grass, seeds, insects, etc. Raising chickens on this type of green forage is also a great way to save money and can reduce feed bills by an average 30%.

     Chicken tractors also provide a great source of fertilizer. Simply move your chicken tractor through your yard or garden when you are not growing crops, such as after you have harvested a section or planted a cover crop that you are ready to turn under. You can move your chicken tractor to a different section of your garden each day and the chickens will eat insects left in the garden area and provide nitrogen for your garden plot.
      The chicken tractors that we constructed are made from a design courtesy of Maggie’s parents who raise chickens on their family farm and have come up with a sturdy, yet lightweight model that has proven very durable over the years. The pens are made out of 1 inch PVC pipe so they are lightweight, and just about anyone is capable of lifting up one end of the pen and pulling it to a new area each day without too much effort.
Chicken tractors stacked one on top of the other, ready to go home!

       Keeping chickens is a great way to provide yourself, your family and your friends with fresh eggs or meat at little cost. Eggs are a great way to whip up some quick and healthy meals and can also be sold for extra income, so, we encourage anyone interested to look into raising chickens and feel free to contact one of us for more information about building chicken tractors!