Chicken Chronicles: Growing Fast and a Trampoline Chicken Tractor

Chicken Chronicles: Growing Fast and a Trampoline Chicken Tractor

The chicks are now 4 1/2 weeks old, and have been home with us for 3 1/2 of those weeks. I can’t believe how much they’ve grown just in the past ten days! They are so much bigger and are doing so many more things now. I even made them a trampoline chicken tractor because they want to spend so much time outside!

Getting Bigger

To give you an idea of how much they’ve grown, this photo was taken 9 days ago, when the chicks were three weeks old:

3 week old chicks

And these were taken last night, at 4 1/2 weeks old:
Chicks 4 weeks old
 Wyandotte and Easter egger chicks 4 weeks old

They’re so much bigger! They easily fit in my hand a week ago, and now they are much larger than my hand – and heavier too! As you can see, their favorite place to be is on the top edge of the box. When they hear me coming downstairs, they jump onto the branch and wait eagerly for me to open the lid! I have even started letting them stay out while I’m on the treadmill.

To prevent yucky messes on the floor, I cut open some trash bags and laid them under the edges of the box… because apparently, roosting = pooping. In case you didn’t know (like I didn’t), chickens poop a LOT!! Even while they’re asleep! They don’t urinate at all, so pooping takes the place of both. I can be down with them for half an hour and they will all go 2-3 times. I’m starting to get a little anxious for them to be outside, as I’m sure they are too!

Spending Some Time Outside

To let them adjust, I have taken them outside several times in the past week when the weather was nice enough. The bigger three enjoyed exploring even in the cooler weather, but Bijou preferred to stay close and snuggle into my hair!!

3 week old chicks outside
3 weeks old. Looking alert in case there’s danger in the backyard
4 week old chicks outside
4 weeks old. It cracks me up how they look like real, miniature chickens. Of course that’s exactly what they ARE, but it’s still funny to see!

Trampoline Chicken Tractor

On Sunday we had extra-warm weather for March – 80 degrees! We also got a trampoline from my parents on Saturday. So what’s an urban homesteader to do? I made a chicken tractor out of the trampoline, of course! (Don’t mind the kids’ shoes everywhere! The box is what I used to transport the chicks, and to give them a shelter in case they needed it.)

Trampoline chicken tractor
Trampoline Chicken Tractor. Not fancy, but it gets the job done!

A chicken tractor is simply a moveable pen where your chickens can hang out. Some people use these as their primary coop, but mostly they are used to keep chickens contained while allowing them some freedom and access to new “grazing” space. Chicken tractors can be made out of wood, PVC pipe, or anything, really. Sometimes they’re on wheels to make lifting and moving easier. They can even be customized to fit between the rows of your garden, allowing your chickens to do some of your weeding and pest control for you! Just be sure that your tractor is predator-proof if you plan to leave your chickens in there for extended amounts of time or without supervision. They will also need water, and possibly a nesting box if they’re older.

I only had a partial roll of chicken wire, so I ran to the store and got an extra 25′ roll. This particular type has 2″ holes rather than the 1″ I would prefer, but it matched what I had at home and was a little bit cheaper. The roll had thin wire twisted around it to keep it together, and I used that to attach the chicken wire at every trampoline leg. I left the last section loose at one end to act as a gate, keeping it closed with a carabiner hook.

 

Voila – a chicken tractor! It doesn’t really move, which I assume is where the term tractor came from, but it worked perfectly as a temporary pen for young chickens. They were safe, contained, and able to stay outside for a couple hours. I made sure to bring their water out too, and left a small box in with them for shelter.

 

Trampoline chicken tractor
Trampoline chicken tractor – approved by chickens and children!
I should also mention that we were outside with them the whole time. I definitely would not leave them in such an insecure coop without supervision! We’ve been spending a lot of time in the backyard lately, as we started building our chicken coop last week! It has been a time consuming project, and expensive, but no more so than I expected (yet). If you are planning to build your own coop too, you’re in luck! This summer I will be posting our experience start to finish, with detailed instructions, to make your job easier. Stay tuned!

 

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