Ron has been working on our chicken tractor. It’s kind of an A-frame contraption on skids. One end will hold nesting boxes, and the other will be open, with chicken wire nailed on to keep them from taking off. We’ll move it all around the garden before we plant anything, and then after we’ve planted, we’ll reserve the west end of the garden for crops and let the chickens scratch around in the east end. Next year, we’ll switch the garden to the east end and the chickens to the west.
Rotating it like that will dramatically reduce the available space for planting, but I figure the chickens’ efforts — fertilizing the soil and eating the weed seeds and bugs — will result in substantially higher yields (and substantially less work weeding and trying to figure out how to get rid of stinkbugs and Japanese beetles and whatnot), and we won’t have to spend all our time cleaning up after the chickens to keep them from smelling weird if we’re moving them around every couple of days.
Our tractor is based more or less on the “Cadillac poultry ark” design, which you can find on this page. (Scroll down to see the graphic. There are tons of interesting designs on the page.)
I’ll keep you posted on how this experiment goes. If it doesn’t work out according to plan … well, that’s why God made Hooters sauce.