Something occurred to me this morning while I stood hunched over an inch of slippery, slimy chicken poop in the bottom of a kiddie pool, grabbing madly for 51 chicks desperate to not be caught. This is why nobody wants to be a farmer any more. There I was, splattered with manure, on the verge of falling on my face, while the rest of the world snored away.
By the time everybody else started waking up, fixing coffee and turning on the TV, I had caught the last chick and moved them all to the chicken tractor. While they sipped their coffee, I was washing and refilling feeders and waterers and making sure the chicks would have enough shade from the afternoon sun.
Not many people want to spend their mornings trudging through 18 inches of fresh snow, or sweating in the smothering humidity to feed animals that cost more than the nicely packaged meats in the Wal-Mart freezer. They don’t care about GMO corn, growth hormones, antibiotics, overfilled feedlots, and horrendous processing plants. There is an unspoken “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy in America when it comes to food. We won’t ask what or where it came from, and if you don’t tell us, and price it cheap enough, we’ll eat it. It’s a lot easier than asking questions, doing homework, and infinitely easier than raising food ourselves.
But enough of the rant for now. If you’re one of the handful of people who raises or is thinking about raising meat chickens, I highly recommend using a chicken tractor. My latest tractor is 10x10x2, and light enough one person can easily move it. For now it houses 51 chicks just fine, but I’ll probably move half of them into another tractor when they get a little bigger.
The Freedom Ranger chicks are about two and a half weeks old. They started foraging on grass within minutes of being moved outside for the first time. Definitely a big improvement over the Cornish X horror stories.
Unless you’re only keeping one or two chickens, build waterers and feeders like these. I had to buy buckets since I didn’t have enough around, but these still cost only a fourth of what a store-bought feeder or waterer would cost. They each hold about 6 gallons if you fill them all the way up.