Saturday, March 7, 2009

An automatic watering system for Chicken Tractors

Once you've built your chicken tractor, you're going to need a way to provide fresh water to your chickens constantly.

Here's one of the best ways we've found to provide water to our chickens. This watering system can be moved very easily.

This clever way of providing water to chickens was invented by Joel Salatin of Polyface Farms.

It utilizes gravity to fill a bell shaped poultry waterer.

This type of waterer is used in conventional poultry houses. It works off of water pressure from a water line that runs down through the house. The water flows down a 1/4 in. black plastic pipe to the top of the poultry waterer. The pipe is connected to the waterer by a small plastic screw on connector. The water enters the top of the waterer and comes out of two white valves on either side of the neck of the waterer. The water collects in the lower "bell" part of the waterer where the poultry drink.

A ballast underneath the red "bell" stops the water flow once the waterer has been filled.

In conventional poultry houses, the waterer is hung from the ceiling on a chain. In our case, we hang it from a middle support beam in the tractor. A "S" hook attaches the chain to the waterer.

A 5 gallon plastic bucket is seated on an edge of the tractor and feeds water to the waterer through a 1/4 in. flexible pipe.

To insert the pipe into the bucket, simply drill a hole into the bucket a little bit smaller than the pipe. Then, pull the pipe through. It shouldn't leak unless the hole is too big.

These type waterers are manufactured by Plasson and can be found on the web at:
Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Welcome to Chicken Tractors

So what exactly is a chicken tractor? Well it is simply a floor less, movable chicken pen that sometimes has an enclosed area for the chickens to sleep in and lay their eggs.

Since part of the chicken tractor does not have a floor, the chickens can eat bugs, grass, and seeds. This produces happier, healthier chickens, which in turn provides: healthy, delicious eggs from laying chickens and wonderful, finger-lick'n good, meat from broiler chickens.

Below is some info on how this chicken tractor (top right) was constructed.
The Chicken Tractor
This chicken tractor design was created by Joel Salatin in the late 80's to be able to produce meat chickens outside so they would have sunshine, fresh air and be able to eat fresh grass, bugs, and seeds. But, also provide shelter to the chickens from the weather and predators.

The pens are mainly used for raising meat chickens and hold about 75 birds, though they can be retro-fitted with nest boxes to accommodate laying hens.

Usually, the pens are made out of soft pressure-treated lumber, aluminum siding, and chicken wire.

3/4ths of the roof, one 10ft. end, and haft of both 12ft. sides are covered with aluminum siding. The rest is covered with 1 in. chicken wire stapled on to the wood.

Two 5ft. x 6ft. square doors are laid on top of the pen. One door completes the 3/4ths of the aluminum roof, and the other door has chicken wire stapled on to it to allow more sunshine into the pen. The feeder is placed under the aluminum door to protect it against rain.

These type pens cost between $150 to $200 depending on if you are buying all the materials new or if you can get some things used.

Moving the Tractor
The pen is usually moved once a day in the morning to allow the chickens to eat fresh grass, bugs and seeds. During the drier times of the year, it may be necessary to move the pen two times a day so that the chicken's manure will be spread out more and won't kill the grass as easily. It will also allow the chickens more fresh grass.

A special dolly is placed under one of the 10ft. sides. The pen is then pulled from the opposite end. A wire with a piece of cut garden hose on it(so that when someone pulls the pen, it will not cut their hands) is attached to the bottom board at each of the corners of the 10ft. side. The person then lifts up the end of the pen with the wire, holding on to the garden hose and pulls the pen with the dolly 12ft. until the back edge of the pen is where the front end was before moving.

The Feeder

The feeder can be many different designs, but, the usual method is a conventional long metal rectangular feeder about 4ft. to 5ft. long. It has a spinner down the length of the feeder several inches above the feeder, so the chickens can't get into the feed and kick it out.

The Waterer

A simple waterer is set up to allow fresh water to the chickens at all times. One round bell waterer is hung from one of the cross beams near the two doors. A white* 5 gallon bucket is set on top of the aluminum siding door and gravity flows water to the bell waterer through a 1/4 in. soft black plastic pipe. A hole slightly smaller than the pipe is drilled into the side of the bucket a couple inches above the bottom of the bucket. The plastic pipe is then pulled through the side of the bucket(with pliers) until it is two inches inside the bucket.

This efficient, yet simple waterer design is a great way provide water to your chickens.

* Note: It is a good idea to use a white five gallon bucket on top of the pen to prevent water from evaporating.


Movable chicken tractors are a great option to raising chickens. Even though the cost is some what a considerable amount for the size pen, these pens can last for up to 20 years.