Chickens are an easy start for the new hobby farmer because they don't require a huge amount of capital, land or fencing to start bringing in those farm fresh eggs. This set-up is easy to maintain and keep clean, in addition to keeping your birds safe and healthy.
We started our 2010 season with 6 Leghorns kept in a coop until we finished what we call the chicken tractor where they stayed the rest of the season. The chicken tractor is a unit that features a coop and run built on skids that can be moved around the yard allowing the chickens free range access to greens, worms and bugs while at the same time enabling you to weed and feed (manure) your lawn without creating those ugly and useless dead patches in the middle of your yard.
The access to fresh greens gives your eggs the good cholesterol known as Omega-3s that make eggs a healthier choice for those who need to watch their cholesterol intakes.
The chickens will eat all the greens, weeds and weed seeds in the run area and will scratch and manure the ground which is like getting your lawn aerated and fertilized for free. Your grass will be greener and free of weeds if you practice this type of grazing on a regular basis.
Fresh Eggs with naturally occurring Omega3's
Our coop has a wire mesh bottom that allows droppings to fall through (in theory) so there is less actual clean-up to do inside the coop. Our chicken tractor has the coop sitting on a platform at the back where it can be completely lifted if necessary. There is a door at the front that completely comes off and allows access into the run to replace the food and water. The coop is at the back of the run and the eggs can be collected from the next box from outside.
There are several ways that chicken tractors can be used in the garden to control weeds that require a long and narrow design that will keep weeds down, cultivate and fertilize the soil and enrich your garden. They are placed between the rows and allow chicken to access the weeds in the rows without destroying or eating your valuable vegetables. I'll write more about this in the future.