Lizzards and Chicken Tractors

Today while Dave was taking Shorty for one of her mandatory walks around HTF, they spotted a rather large lizard.

Are we going for a walk NOW??!
Are we going for a walk NOW??!

I was going to try to catch a photo of him….but he evacuated the area when I moved in for a closer look.  FAST!

He was hanging out (literally) on a big stalk of some type of weed that grows around here.  I will keep my eyes peeled for him and try to convince Mr. Lizard that he wants to pose for a photograph.

(Fortunately for him, Shorty did not see him, or I am sure she’d have been in hot pursuit.  NOT something we really want to encourage as I am skeptical as to what the results would be if she were to actually catch a lizard)

chicktractor3

This is the enclosed portion at one end of the eventual enclosure.  There will be wheels attached in such a way that when the opposite end is lifted the entire unit can be moved to fresh locations.

Dave is building a chicken tractor.  This was necessitated by the fact that the recently hatched HTF chicks are actively pursuing escape from the inside of their current digs via leaping for it.

The frame is unfinished in this photo- we'll be adding chicken wire and additional structure.
The frame is unfinished in this photo- we’ll be adding chicken wire and additional structure.

Since chickens are not altogether welcoming of new members of the flock…..at least not immediately, we can’t just put them out with the others until they get a bit larger.  We do not wish to evoke a chicken war on the farm.

Placing the young birds in a mobile pen (chicken tractor) – will serve the following:

  1. Give them an adequate space in which to grow as they get too big for the brooder set-up.
  2. Allow the other chickens to get accustomed to the newbies prior to the actual integration of the flock.
  3. Serve the purpose as a place in which to segregate chickens who may need it for whatever reason in the future.  I’m thinking that the first order of business after the new chicks no longer need the tractor will be to separate some of our original flock members one by one in order to allow their back & tail feathers to grow back….see more on why below.

MISSING FEATHERS

A little more than a year ago it became necessary to pen our normally free-ranging chickens in their coop for a couple of weeks in order to keep them from sabotaging our garden.  I do not think they enjoyed this one bit.  It was at this time that some of them started missing feathers on their backs and around their tails.  The conclusion was reached that they were doing this to each other while they roosted in the evenings- I think it was a result of their anxiety at being confined.

I read everything I could on the internet regarding why this might occur and what to do about it.  We tried various things to stop it and get the feathers back.  Not all the chickens fell victim to this behavior…apparently a few of them are beyond reproach in the pecking order and suffered no such indignities.

Nothing I tried worked.  Potions, supplements, more roosting perches spread out.

The only thing we were not able to do was segregate each chicken until the feathers grew back completely, thereby eliminating the temptation to pluck feathers growing back in.  (I suspect the feathers are not able to grow back because as soon as they start another flock member obsesses over the bit sticking out on an otherwise naked rear and picks at it.  Chickens are very visually obsessive.)  We previously did not have an area suitable for doing this.  The new tractor will solve this problem.

The new tractor is being constructed of materials that were lying about on HTF when we arrived plus a few items we had.  So no $$ spent….which is always a good thing! 🙂  I will paint it.  This will tie the miscellaneous parts together and protect it from the elements.  I will likely not be able to control myself and get somewhat creative with the job.  Pictures of the final finished project will be posted.

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