The chicken tractor
QOn the occasions we are able to give our three bantams the free run of the garden, they make a bee-line for our small vegetable patch. They obviously love the roots, grubs and insects and, when things go to seed, we throw it into their run – and they spend hours pecking about through the leaves and roots. Is there any way we can combine the veggie patch recycling more efficiently?
AJeremy Hobson says: Should you want to be really clever with your vegetable garden and chickens then look no further than this possible scenario. In America, there is a system of keeping poultry called ‘chicken tractors’ – named primarily, I think, after the title of a book written by poultry-keeper Andy Lee. Put simply, chickens are kept in moveable coops and runs and, once they’ve fertilised the ground, the soil is either then used to grow vegetables, or the land is kept as improved pasture for other forms of livestock. There can be no doubt that, as well as improving the soil fertility, clean conditions and a more natural diet produces happier birds – and more eggs.
You’ve not mentioned whether your bantam house and run is movable but if it is, maybe you could try adapting this system on a mini-scale and, once a particular part of the vegetable garden has been cropped, put the run over it so that your bantams can scratch, clear up the weeds and fertilise the ground before you plant crops there again in the spring.