Brothers M. MiM ’23 – We like to Move it, Move it

Brothers M. Mondays in May is our tradition of sharing our excitement about our chickens every Monday in May.

It’s easiest to have a long enough piece of pasture that you can run the chicken tractors in one direction from start to finish.  Our pasture is long enough to do this; however, the contour of our pasture makes it better for the chickens to start near middle.  So we have to change direction midway through the growing season.

Our pasture is high near the middle, highest maybe 1/3 it’s length toward the road end.  The slop near the road is a gentle slope and the house end is more aggressive.  This makes the road end a marshy area in the early spring when all the rains come and the house end a river. Neither are good for young chickens in the cold nights of spring.

Moving1-1Our solution is to start the chicken tractors on the high ground and head toward the road, then reverse direction and head back toward the house.   This means we need a wider area to run the chicken tractors so we don’t overlap where they’ve already been.  Basically 6 lanes, 3 forward, 3 reverse.

It’s easy to move the chicken tractors in either direction, but moving over out of the previous track has proven harder than it sounds, at least for me.

My first thought was to sit the tractor on four 1 1/4″ PVC pipes and just sliding it over.  It was easy to slide the tractor over, but since PVD pipes come in 10′ lengths and the chicken tractor boards are 10′ 1.5″ apart, I needed extra sections of pipe. Additionally, the chickens were confused about which way to move and it’s harder to convince them to move sideways.  Overall this was more labor intensive and frustrating.

moving2-3Next I played around with turning the chicken tractor hard in one direction.  Either way I tried this, it always took more distance than I thought to get the tractor on the right path.  When doing a hard turn it’s difficult to push and the side aprons bend under the chicken tractor and you have to pull them out.  Again, the chickens are used to going forward and you have to be careful not to run over them with the side of the tractor.

The method on the right in this illistration wasn’t too bad, but this method took up a lot of space with wise.  Our pasture has a V shape and drains down the middle, so we only have enough “smooth” area for the 6 paths plus the “river” in the middle during heavy rains.   Also the first move in the reverse direction was pretty long, so I didn’t like this method either.

Moving4-1Finally I did a LONG walk forward with a medium turn to the side, then reversed direction with another medium turn and this worked much better.  I modified it so instead of a LONG walk, I do a generous move of the chicken tractor twice, then reverse direction.  The first reverse move is a little longer than normal, but not a Long walk. Occasionally a little corner of the previous path overlaps, but it’s under the front cross member and not a problem.

I consider myself decent at geometry and puzzling things together and these moving patterns may seem obvious; but, there’s nothing like doing a hard turn forward with a chicken tractor, then doing a hard turn in the opposite direction just to realize you’re basically where you started.    Also, my drawings are not the best and may not be completely accurate, but I CAN tell you the last one is the one that’s easiest for me even if I cannot exactly explain/demonstrate what was wrong with the others.

Brothers M. MiM ’23 – Feeding Frenzy

Brothers M. Mondays in May is our tradition of sharing our excitement about our chickens every Monday in May.

Sharks get all the attention for their ferocious feeding frenzies, but chickens frenzy too.  Chickens are not ferocious, but they can injure each other as they are trying to get to the food.

FeedingIn the early years, I adopted the line of thought of keeping food always available to the chickens.  This meant 2 feeders were adequate to feed all the chickens, because they were not all hungry at one time.

Now I’ve grown to adopt a twice a day feeding method.  The birds seem healthier and more energetic when they are not allowed to eat constantly.  They also seem to forage more in between feedings. This requires more feeders to accommodate more birds “at the table”, and to hold more food, but the results are worth it.

Brothers M. MiM ’23 – Chicken Tractor Life Expectancy

Brothers M. Mondays in May is our tradition of sharing our excitement about our chickens every Monday in May.

As I said in the last post, more on wire rusts and wood rots.  Ten years ago I built 2  chicken tractors and this year some of the chicken wire is rusted beyond protection and the rest is questionable.  So to cut to the chase, 9 years is how long my chicken tractor lasted.

NewWireOne of the two tractors developed holes in the chicken wire late last year, I think from birds landing on it, so I knew I needed to replace some of the wire this year.  What I didn’t know was that ants had destroyed the front board of that tractor.  Here’ a picture of what I replaced at the 11th hour to get me through this year, one section of wire over the top, new front board, and new chicken wire on the front.  The 2nd tractor didn’t have holes yet, so I just added some fencing over the same area I replaced on the first.  That will get us through the growing season.

Most of the wood frame could probably go another year or two.  There’s evidence that ants have started homes in the wood, but most of it still seems solid.  Where I went wrong was that I added a board to the front of this chicken tractor because there was a big knot where we pull from.  The ants crawled between the boards and got a foot hold.  Also, I think the board I added may not have been treated. I probably meant to replace it and forgot.WoodAnts

rusted wireRust is the main factor in rebuilding the chicken tractors.  All the chicken wire needs replace.  Some would easily break off while the rest is getting there. Here’s a flattened pile of the wire.  The top, is the worst place, but the sides are not too far behind.  I think next time once it appears the wire may start rusting, I’ll treat it with some anti rust spray.

As I said, I’m not going to repair the old ones, it’s too much work just to get a couple more years.  I’ll spray and re-use the cattle panels, re-use the old doors as they have already been replaced once and are easy to replace, but the rest will be new.

Here’s a picture of the back of the tractor so you can see how well the pallet planks held up.  Really not bad considering the age.


Here’s a link to my ‘How to build a Chicken Tractor’ page.

Brothers M. MiM ’23 – Fun, not so much?

Brothers M. Mondays is our tradition of sharing our excitement about our chickens every Monday in May.

I had a different post in mind for today, but it’s raining and the chickens need fed so I thought it’d be a good day to share some of the not so fun things of raising chickens.


  • It doesn’t matter what the weather is like.  Most of the times we’re able to plan around the weather, but some days you just have to cover the food with plastic bags and go.
  • You have to plan around the chickens.  Family trips away from the house have to be arranged around and/or cut short to care for the chickens.
  • Chickens don’t care if you’re sick.  Even though there are several family members, when one gets sick, usually others do to0.  With the older kids working and away, that just makes it more frequent that chicken care is done while not feeling well.
  • Stuff breaks.  Tarps blow off, things get loose, tires go flat, wire rusts, and wood rots.  More on those last 2 to come.
  • There’s lots of cleaning, pickup, and storage.  Almost everything needs cleaned before the season starts, during the season, and when it’s over as well.  It all takes up a lot of space, brooders, barrels, water tanks, feeders/waterers, and coolers.  And, when the season’s over, the chicken tractors still need moved, even if we raise them on blocks, or they will get “rooted” to the ground with vegetation.
  • Chickens aren’t that bright.  They’re frequently underfoot, don’t move when you want them to, or they do move and you have to catch them.

So, do we still enjoy raising chickens?  The basic answer is yes; however, enjoy may not be the correct word.   I think I’d use the word appreciate.

I’ve heard the kids call it work, but I know they’ve all appreciated the opportunity raising chickens afforded them.  Things like earning their way to the National Jamboree, or that one “must see” concert.

I appreciate it because I think it’s good for my soul.  I don’t know how to describe it; maybe it’s that it gives me focus.  Spring is usually the busiest time of my year.  I have so many plans and things I want to do, even though I cannot do it all.  I think it’s maybe that the chickens give me a focus during all the chaos.

Brothers M. Mondays in May 2021 – Week 2 Back to Snow

Brothers M. Mondays is our way of showing you how excited we are for the first Seymour Farmers Market

Cold is always a risk raising chickens on pasture especially freezing temperature, such as what happened on 4/21.  We start our birds as late in the season as we can while still having chicken available for the first Seymour Farmers Market.  Fortunately when this cold and snow came this year, the chickens were still snug in their brooders with the heat lamps.

However, the cherry trees didn’t have that luxury and they are one of Olivia’s favorite trees.  I’m not sure if it was the right thing do to, but I sent her out to get the snow off the trees to help protect the blossoms.  Not only was it fun to watch, but we have plenty of cherries growing, so I think it helped.

Enjoy the video.  Music provided by Wintergatan –

Brothers M. Mondays in May 2021 – Week 1 The Peeps

Peeps1Brothers M. Mondays is our way of showing you how excited we are for the first Seymour Farmers Market

Since it’s still the Easter season, I thought we’d start out with this post.

I went out to the brooder to check on our new chickens, who had arrived the prior day.  When I looked in, their resemblance to marshmallow Peeps was striking.  They were all lined up with one eye on me.  The pictures don’t do the initial pose justice as they moved around a bit when I lifted the lid to grab a pic, but you can still see what I’m talking abouth.

While these youngsters may look like they have a marshmallow center, I assure you they’ll grow into high quality protein. Peeps2

Brothers M. Mondays in May 2020 – Week 4 Fun time

Brothers M. Mondays is our way of showing you how excited we are for the first Seymour Farmers Market, LESS THAN A WEEK AWAY!

It’s been a fun year so far and this week I thought I’d showcase some of it.

First is the dynamic between Matthew and Samantha.  Over the last year or so, these two have really come into their own and seem to bring out the good fun loving qualities in each other.




That attitude carried over into the care of the chickens.  It has been interesting and a pleasure to watch these two work together; everything from joking and encouraging the chickens, to war cries when moving them







…and of course running.


And then there was a cow


And as a bright spot for the future, Olivia has been joining in the fun.  She says she’s learning so she can help too.








Brothers M. Mondays in May 2020 Week 2

Brothers M. Mondays is our way of showing you how excited we are for the first Seymour Farmers Market on May 30th and to get you psyched up for it too.

This week we’re showcasing replacing two rotting chicken tractor doors.  And of course the kids had to have their fun.  Hope you enjoy this video as much as I do.