So yesterday, was the big day! I could finally reveal to the little peeps, what all the commotion was about, over the past week. It was time to go from this, temporary housing arrangement...
...to this one, with a slightly larger footprint. I'm sure they will outgrow it, in no time. They're like weeds at the moment. Turn around, and they'll double in size!
I already have plans to build another, just so we can house them all when they're older. It won't be the same kind of tractor, but hopefully, a little easier to build!
The idea will be to split the boys from the girls, so they can have their own tractor. I suspect we already have six boys, out of 14 chicks. Which could go up further still. It's kind of hard to tell for sure, at almost 3 weeks.
Our lone, free range Australorp hen, took an interest in them right away. She quite likes their company, and will often sleep nearby. I even saw her do a broody position, where she opened her wings like a tent, ready to receive little chicks. But I won't be testing to see, how genuine that mother's instinct might me. Because the flip-side, if I am wrong, isn't something I'd like to deal with.
I'm really loving the pin-stripes and speckles, on some of the chicks feathers. That's number 20 (brown coloured) to the right, and I'm happy to report, is a girl. She has been a favourite of mine, since she hatched. I will look forward to her, joining our layers in the permanent coop, one day.
So how about a proper tour, of our finished chicken tractor?
The design is simple, but it was far from simple to construct. Worth all the toil though, now our chicks can live outside permanently. We have an old mower catcher, we put in there at night, with wood shavings inside. Which gives them some protection and warmth. As their proper feathers haven't grown in yet. Only then, will they be able to handle the elements.
Speaking of protection from the elements, this is inside the sheltered part. Their removable perch is in the middle. I used some old political signs, made from corriflute, as insulation. They are supported in the middle, by some black woven bands, stretched over the rafters. This corriflute material, provides some insulation, to lessen the heat radiating from the tin roof .
I don't know if it will be a mistake or not, using corriflute, as it looks like the perfect ant motel - with all those little hollows in the corriflute. I know I've had problems in the past, with ants wanting to move into the tractor, when heavy rain was around. As far as insulation goes though, it's better than having a hot tin roof.
This is the side, with the door. It opens towards the tin, as opposed to the former configuration, where it opened upwards. It was a pain to hold chickens and go through the door at the same time. It was best done, with someone else to hold the door. This new configuration however, works very well. Also, plenty of space for a person to get in and out.
It's covered in snake mesh, which I'll write another brief post on why I chose this material, over regular chicken wire.
The end of the sheltered area, made use of a resource, which came into our possession, kind of in a bad way. It's part of a small garden shed, we managed to warp, when the tip of a tree came down on it. We only had to replace one wall panel, and the roof, on that garden shed - but we had plenty of bent panels to make use of, once they were removed.
Here I am, to demonstrate the overall size of the tractor. I'm kind of leaning a little forward, to touch the top of the roof. This tractor, can be moved successfully, by two people. It's a little heavier than I would have liked, but still much lighter than the original.
I've been taking a much need break from construction. But there was still one more thing to do...
...put the eager, clean-up crew to work. ;)