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.

It’s time for Turkey

No, these are not velociraptors; it’s Turkey time!

We’ve raised a small batch of turkeys to have more to offer.  We have a couple whole turkey, ground turkey, and turkey wings & drumsticks for sale starting this weekend.


Whole turkeys are frozen in a bag.  They’re $4.25/lb and weigh ~12 lbs.

Ground turkey is in 1lb bags and $10/lb

Turkey wings and drumsticks are $6.50/lb


We will have ground turkey and wings and drumsticks on hand at the Seymour Farmers Market starting 8/1 while supplies last.

** Preorder by 8pm  on Fridays until 8/8 and receive a 10% discount.   Deadline by 8pm 7/31 for 8/1 pickup or 8pm 8/7 for 8/8 pickup.  Pickup at Seymour Farmers Market, times in Eastern.

Whole turkeys are preorder only, we will only bring them to the market once they are sold.  *Preorder discount does not apply to whole turkeys.

Contact us via email or contact page if interested.

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.




2020 CSA Update

Wow, what a month February was.  It’s been a little over a month since we kicked off the 2020 CSA season and our CSA slots are almost full.   A huge thank you is in order for everyone who’s supporting us by ordering.

If your considering a CSA order, we have a couple slots open so let us know what you want.

Thanks again for getting 2020 off to a great start.


Portable Chicken Coop / Tractor – Solar non-freezing chicken waterer – Best design yet

frozen water previewProviding unfrozen water in the winter can be a challenge and time consuming.  Since we pasture the chickens “tractor” style with the portable coop, power to heat the water is the issue.  I believe I’ve finally figured it out.

First year we started with multiple plastic waterers that we swapped out multiple times a day.  This works decently, but the water still freezes, it’s labor intensive, and someone needs to be around during the day to swap waterers.

The next year we steped it up by heating the waterers with a light bulb.  This worked pretty good, but required us to keep the coop within extension cord distance of an outlet and periodically water would freeze in the top  of the waterer.

I did not do a post on the tire waterer.  It was disappointing and it was easy to find info on it.  However, I still had the tire and pan laying around so I threw together a quick pic for reference.

Last year I built a tire waterer to try and keep the chicken water from freezing.   I put a board inside the tire on the bottom side, stuffed the inside of the tire with old tarps for insulation, and fitted a plastic pan in the tire.  My experience with that was poor and I do not recommend it.  The biggest issue was that the chickens would stand on the tire and mess in their water all day.  By the time I got home to change it, it was pretty bad.  It did help slow down the freezing process; however, being open air, it still allowed the water to eventually freeze solid, especially overnight.

I’ve been playing with an idea of an enclosed PVC and nipple system.  Basically building an insulated box and filling it with 3″ tubes of PVC, shown in the graphic.  There would be a cutout of  frame and insulation in one top corner to allow access to add water. One bottom corner would have a smaller PVC tube that protruded through the box with a water nipple on the end.  The front would be Twinwall Polycarbonate glazing to let the sun in and the inside would be painted black to absorb as much heat as possible.

It was getting cold this year and I needed to get a waterer made for the chickens so I decided to not build the PVC waterer for the following reason.  One,  my chickens are not trained to a nipple system yet.  I’m having trouble figuring out how to attach the PVC box to the ‘Pequod’ chicken coop, especially since it’s going to be heavy and need decent support.  The 3″ PVC fittings are expensive and I have concerns the metal part of the nipple would still freeze and cause issue.

I was basing the PVC system on principals I learned from this solar horse tank.   Then it hit me, how about trying to replicate the horse tank at a chicken waterer size!  Since the amount of water would be significantly less, I wouldn’t want to leave the top exposed, but chicken heads are small, so I took a gamble that they’d stick their heads through a hole instead.


My first thoughts were to use a bucket, but I didn’t like the clearances nor dealing with bending and attaching the polycarbonate glazing.  So I decided to use a tote, black obviously  so it will absorb the heat from the sun.

Using similar principals as the solar horse tank. I first put 2″ foam on the bottom to have an insulated base to sit the water on.   I measured from the top of the foam to the bottom of the lid and subtracted 2 inches for the foam that would be attached to the lid.  This gave me the height for the foam sides and Twinwall Polycarbonat glazing

Next I added the 2″ foam to the sides.  I looked at the shape of the tote and measured across the end where I could fit a straight piece of foam.  The bottom of the tote is narrower than the top, measured top and bottom and cut sloped pieces of foam.

I measured from the floor to top and between the insides of the sides to cut a rectangle out of the front of the tote for the window.  I cut a piece of polycarbonate glazing slightly larger, about 1/2 to 3/4 inch, than the hole on the sides and bottom so that the foam could help hold it in place.  I used duct to hold and seal the polycarbonate glazing in place; this also sealed the tubes.  I put the scrap piece of plastic from the side on the floor in front of the window to try and suck in more heat.

On the other side, I placed the water bowl in the tote and used the top of the bowl to mark the bottom of the drinking opening.  Using a hole saw, I cut two overlapping circles to make the oval shaped opening for the chickens to sick their head in to drink, cleaning up the oval edges with a utility knife.

I thought it would be better to use a thinner foam where the hens stick their heads in, so I cut a piece of 1/2 inch foam, from scrap I had, to cover this side, removing the same oval.  I used duct tape to hold the foam pieces together and seal the seams.  I also used several pieces of duct tape to secure the foam to the hole and prevent the chickens from rubbing the foam.

Next I cut the 2″ foam for the lid making it fit snug when placed in the tote, but not too snug as it’ll need to be opened and shut frequently.  With the foam in the tote and the lid on, I drilled 4 sets of 2 holes so I could use zip ties to secure the foam to the lid.   I also cut some small squares of plastic from something in the recycling to prevent the zip ties from digging into the foam and pulling through.

From the drinking hole, I wanted to minimize  the surface area of the incoming air over the bowl.  I used 2″ foam to make a bridge over the bowl, then added 1/2 foam on either side of the hole to create a smaller cavity where the outside air had direct contact with the water.

At this point I put the waterer into action; however, I forgot chicken peck.  I’m not sure why I thought they wouldn’t peck the foam bridge, but I did and they did, effectively destroying the bridge.

So… I redid the bridge.  I used corrugated plastic from an old ‘For Sale’ sign I had on all the pecking sides of the bridge and plenty of duct tape to hold it in place.  The 2″ foam was replace with 1/2″ foam over the bowl.  I didn’t account for needing to remove the bowl to clean it and the 2″ foam made it so I had to tip the bowl to get it out.  Now I don’t have to.

How well does it work?  Great.  Basically, overnight at 15-19 degrees Fahrenheit I had about 1/8 inch of ice frozen on the top of the bowl.  Down in the teens is a bit thicker.   In the morning if the bowl was full of water, pull the bowl out and bang it upside down on the ground to remove the ice.  If it’s half or less, then fill it with warm water from the tap and melt the ice that way.

During the day, in the teens and twenties the water stays unfrozen, especially if there is sun, but even on overcast days, there should be enough solar to keep it unfrozen.  Unfortunately, we only had a few days this winter where it stayed below freezing night and day for 2 or more days, so I cannot give accurate results for long cold spells; however, given what I’ve seen so far it should work great.  The heat from the warm water in the morning in conjunction with the passive solar heat should keep the water from refreezing during the day.

With all my scraps, this was a pretty cheap build and worth every penny.  $6 for the tote and $10 for the rubber bowl, and $20 for the polycarbonate glazing. (the link isn’t the one I purchased, but this is a similar 5 pack)   I had 2″  and 1/2″ foam left over from insulating the basement and other projects.

Back to main Portable Chicken Coop / Tractor page



2020 season kickoff


Our off-season hiatus is over and the 2020 season is officially kicking off.  We’ve been reviewing, planning, and scheduling so we could get the 2020 info out to you.

And here it is.


Now taking orders for our CSA.

We’re now taking orders for our CSA.  Please consider ordering a CSA to get our best pricing and guarantee your spot in line for chicken in case we sell out early again.

Your support through our CSA support it is the heart of our operation. Without it, we wouldn’t be able to provide produce our quality chicken for you.

This year we have to increase our prices for the first time.  To help compensate, you’ll notice we’ve increased the CSA discounts.  It makes even more sense than ever to purchase a CSA.

Check out our CSA Page for full details and to order.