The “Chicken Tractor” Method
You know the problem – you have a number of chickens and they have a big fixed coop on the corner of your land. When it was newly built it looked wonderful, a big expanse of green lawn for the chickens to wander around on, a lovely concrete or timber floor which will be so easy to clean but then you encounter reality.
When chickens spend a lot of time in one area, a common consequence is bare dirt, which in wet weather becomes mud. If you confine your chickens to a run, you are quite likely to have a mud problem eventually, unless you live in the desert or on extremely free-draining soil. The problem is that chickens de-vegetate the area (thus, no roots to knit the soil together, also no greenery to draw up water to dry the soil) and by several mechanisms tend to slightly lower the soil level in the area, creating a sort of ‘bathtub’ that catches and holds whatever moisture comes its way.
Mud is not good for chickens. It can promote bumblefoot and internal parasites, as well as making it less easy and pleasant for chickens to get around. Mud is even worse for chicken owners. A muddy run looks awful, gives you brown bedraggled chickens, stinks to high heaven, and breeds a lot more flies than a dry run does.
Whatever happened to that beautiful patch of lawn that we built the chicken coop on?
Or, you can also use the “chicken tractor” method. Essentially what you have is a “free range chicken in a box” – every few days you move your chicken tractor onto a fresh patch of lawn as the spot on which they’re on gets worn down. This allows them fresh greens, grit, bugs and seeds. No more messy coops, a portion of their feed is fresh greens daily and your mother-in-law will no longer turn her nose up at your fowl house.
So next time you see your neighbour or friend struggling with a messy chicken coop, introduce them to the chicken tractor ….