Sustainable Farming; Chicken Tractors
Whats is sustainable Farming? Sustainable agriculture is farming in sustainable ways (meeting society's food and textile needs now without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs) based on an understanding of ecosystem services, the study of relationships between organisms and their environment. It is a structure that incorporates profit, environmental stewardship, fairness, health, business and familial aspects on a farm setting.
Do not take the name literally, we do not put our chickens on tractors. A 'chicken tractor' is a shelter with no flooring inside (open to the soil) & is built to move along a pasture. It can have wheels or it can slide, and it generally has open sides to allow air flow but a closed roof to protect the birds from the elements. The purpose of these shelters is to create a symbiotic relationship between birds and the land.
So through out the summer months we raise chickens & we keep them in these houses. Every day we pull the houses forwarded so that the chickens have a new patch of grass to eat and hang out on. If you were wondering, there is someone inside the house when we move it, they direct the chickens forward. The shelter provides protection from the elements such as wind, rain, & predators like coyotes, hawks, & foxes but we also have a big guard dog named Luke looking after the birds as well.
We love our pasture raised animals, why?
- Allows animals to be out & about, doing what they do.
- Provides a heathy, mixed variety diet. (bugs, grass, minerals)
- We get a good price as the grass is free most of the time ! (some years we will seed down the grazing fields to replenish the grass mass)
- Soil health; this is a big one. The manure left behind by the chickens makes the soil very very healthy.
- Controlled Grazing, this keeps the grass healthy & allows it to grow back. It also allows us to generally know how much the chickens consume so we can monitor weight gain.
- Makes a great tasting end product, you can really tell the difference.
There is solar powered tractors that move themselves! They're very high tech and take great of the birds. We have looked into these houses as they would make our farm much more labour efficient but they are still testing them so they are not ready yet. They are made in Manitoba & Steve is looking forwarded to travelling to check them out to see if they would worked for our farm.
We also raise our turkeys in the tractors. They graze really fast & they can munch down on a lot of pasture. This means it is important to monitor their intake to keep the fields in good condition. Keeping turkeys in the tractors controls their grazing and gives them shelter. We put a lot less turkeys in a house compared to chickens as they are much bigger.
So in conclusion, sustainable farming is important to us. It is great for the animals, the soil, our impact on the environment, and it keeps our cost of production lower.
Just a little farm for thought on a different way to raise poultry!