Holding chickens is turning into an increasing number of widespread – and never only for permaculturists. Having a prepared provide of natural eggs (and, doubtlessly, meat) is interesting in a society the place industrial farming typically locations animal welfare low down on the record of priorities (resulting in the morally repugnant follow of battery hens), the place hen merchandise are routinely handled with antibiotics and chemical preservatives, and the place eggs and meat can journey a whole lot of miles to be bought within the native grocery store.
One of many different main impulses for many individuals to maintain chickens is that it supplies a comparatively straightforward and cheap solution to regain a reference to the pure world, and with the cycle of life that goes into offering us with meals. When a lot of what we eat comes pre-packed in plastic, it may be refreshing to have a private relationship with creatures which might be offering sustenance for you (plus, chickens are very characterful birds which might be simply enjoyable to be round).
Provided that the chickens are offering one thing to you, it’s only proper that you just present for his or her wants in return. In case you have determined to maintain chickens as livestock in your permaculture plot (and your native authority rules permit it) you’ll first conduct an evaluation of the wants of the animals, in an effort to design methods that may allow you to satisfy them. One of many main wants that chickens have is shelter. There are two main choices for the smallholding permaculture gardener in the case of offering shelter for his or her chickens. The primary is the everlasting coop. This can be a hen home that’s inbuilt an appropriate location in your plot, and supplies the chickens someplace to roost at night time, and has laying containers for them to deposit their eggs. Typically, the chickens will likely be allowed out to roam the location within the day, and shepherded into the coop (and locked in) at dusk.
The second important possibility for housing your birds is a hen tractor. Reasonably than some form of mechanical machine because the title implies, a hen tractor is definitely a kind of moveable hen coop. It combines a hen home or shelter with an hooked up run that’s floorless however coated in mesh. The hen tractor is light-weight so it may be moved to completely different places as required, typically by an individual on their very own, relying on the scale of your flock. There are a number of advantages to utilizing a hen tractor to accommodate your birds.
Some of the essential advantages that a hen tractor supplies is safety. If chickens are housed in a everlasting coop and let loose within the day to roam on the location, they and their eggs are in danger from predators, be they birds, mammals or rodents. Within the tractor, the chickens and their eggs are protected against these threats by the enclosing mesh. Nonetheless, due to the floorless design of the tractor, the birds nonetheless get the advantages that the free ranging birds get (entry to pure meals, grime and so on.).
One other profit is the portability of the tractor. It permits you to transfer the chickens to a brand new patch of floor each couple of days or, ideally each 24 hours. That is good for the birds as they’ve entry to contemporary meals and completely different environments – holding them consuming healthily and likewise curious and engaged – and good for the backyard, because it prevents the chickens from overgrazing or over-tilling anybody patch of the permaculture plot.
One of many locations you’ll be able to transfer the hen tractor to is definitely onto your backyard beds. This makes use of the pure behaviors of the chickens to enhance the rising situations of your plot. They’ll scratch on the earth, bettering the feel of the soil, opening it up for higher aeration and water percolation, and can eat bugs and bugs which will harm crops. Certainly, wherever the tractor is positioned on the location, the chickens will scratch on the earth and eat pests. Inserting the hen tractor on backyard beds over the winter is especially helpful, as they may root out bugs and grubs which might be overwintering within the soil, in order that they don’t eat the seeds and seedlings you plant within the spring.
Wherever the chickens go, they may poop. And that is one other advantage of the tractor – not solely does it permit the birds’ manure to fertilize any a part of the backyard, the movability of the system implies that manure ranges don’t construct up in anybody spot. Whereas hen droppings present the soil with numerous nitrogen, in too nice a focus it might probably overload the soil with urea, which might burn plant roots.
Much less Upkeep
Provided that the tractor strikes round daily or two, there isn’t a construct up of bedding or manure to clear up, that means you save time and power on its upkeep. Moreover amassing the eggs and making certain the chickens have sufficient meals and water, the one each day process required is transferring the tractor. Granted this may be problematic if in case you have mobility points, however for most individuals a wheeled hen tractor is simple to maneuver. A everlasting coop would require common alternative of dirty bedding to stop the construct up of micro organism and pest bugs.
Chickens will eat a lot of various things. If they’re allowed to roam freely on a permaculture plot, it may be tough to cease them consuming the seeds, seedlings, leaves and crops of crops you need to harvest in your personal use. The hen tractor means you’ll be able to shield these crops whereas nonetheless giving the chickens entry to pure, natural forage. Certainly, you’ll be able to se the chickens to eliminate undesirable crops.
In fact, each kinds of housing – the everlasting coop and the hen tractor – can be utilized collectively, with the tractor offering safety whereas the hen’s forage, an the coop giving them extra safety at night time and someplace to put their eggs. Nonetheless, a well-designed hen tractor that gives for all of the wants of the chickens is usually a very environment friendly solution to begin holding chickens in your permaculture plot.