A chicken tractor, sometimes called an ark, is a movable chicken coop lacking a floor. Chicken tractors may also be used to house other species of poultry, but the name is most often applied to chicken enclosures.
It is usually of light construction so one person can drag it around the yard, and it may have a couple of wheels at one end to make this job easier. The most common shape for smaller chicken tractors is an A-frame, though any number of designs see prolific use.
Chicken tractors can be moved frequently, providing the advantages of free ranging with the protection of the enclosure. In a chicken tractor poultry have access to fresh forage, including grass, weeds, and bugs, though these resources will quickly be depleted if the tractor is not moved. This supplements their diet, reducing the amount of feed they consume. Because the enclosures do not have floors there is no need for periodic cleaning out, unlike stationary chicken houses. The frequent moves to fresh grass can also avoid a buildup of manure. Chicken tractors imitate a natural, symbiotic cycle of foraging in which the animals eat down the vegetation, deposit fertilizing manure, and then move on to a new area.
By using chicken tractors, flock owners are able to raise poultry in an extensive environment, where the birds have access to fresh air, sunlight, forage, and exercise, which caged birds in commercial houses do not have. By using one small section of a field at a time, allowing all the other sections to recover, the field can sustain more birds than if they were turned out on the whole field all of the time. Because of this chicken tractors enable people to maximize the use of their land. The enclosures also offer some protection from predators and weather, and in the case of egg producers, the birds lay eggs in designated nest boxes rather than hiding them in foliage.
|This article includes a list of references, related reading or external links, but its sources remain unclear because it lacks inline citations. Please improve this article by introducing more precise citations where appropriate. (April 2009)|
- Lee, Andy; Pat Foreman, Patricia Foreman (2004). Chicken Tractor: The Permaculture Guide to Happy Hens and Healthy Soil. Good Earth Publications. ISBN 0962464864.
- Padgham, Jody, ed. (2006). Raising Poultry on Pasture: Ten Years of Success. American Pastured Poultry Producers Association. ISBN 097217703.
- Pangman, Judy (2006). Chicken Coops: 45 Building Plans for Housing Your Flock. Storey Publishing. ISBN 1580176275.