Monday, July 28, 2014

Polyface Farm Tour Part 1 - Broilers & Chicken Tractors

Spent Saturday, July 19th at a Field Day at Polyface Farm in Swoope, VA.  this series will talk about some of the different parts of the farm i learned about, and how they all work together.

Part 1 - Broilers live in Chicken Tractors

75 cornish cross broilers are kept in each tractor. there is a handle on each side - on the back side, they pull it up just a bit and slip a dolly-like thing under it that has wheels.  they go around to the front side and DAILY move it forward the length of the tractor to a fresh plot of grass.  half of the tractor is covered with corrugated siding - the rest is just wire.  this helps both keep them cool in the summer and keep them warm in the winter.    there is a food tray under the covered side (to keep it dry, their feed is locally milled and GMO free).  there is a wire that runs like a "+" through the middle to keep the sides from bowing out.  it is otherwise made from wood and the size is 10' x 12' x 2'.

that red tray is a waterer - gravity fed from a bucket via tubing sitting on top of the tractor.

the back of the tractor has a spot for wire (can be covered with siding) for ventilation/cooling in the summer.

 moving the daily helps with sanitation.  it also is only 1 day-s worth of nitrogen/manure on each square of grass.

one would have to be committed to a regular moving schedule.  if you weren't as concerned with using no-gas, then it'd be cool to have an attachment on the front of the tractor that could make hook-up and moving quick and easy with a 4-wheeler.

polyface's fields are pretty even (not a lot of holes) and the ground is sloping.  so, i think you'd need relatively even terraine with slope for drainage. 

the salatins have dogs for pray control - hawks wouldn't be a real issue because the tractors are covered.  however, i'm not sure if they'd keep out a determined raccoon.  if one had to add a portable electric fence to the daily chore of moving, then that'd make it even more work.  

still, though, it's a cool idea.  and, it works at polyface.

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