Bantams and Small Moveable Pens Equals Yard Birds


BrandonThe first farm animals I ever had growing up were chickens. A coop stood at the edge of our backyard and we kept Buff Orpingtons, Black Sex Links, BB Red Old English Game, Golden Sebrights, and a multitude of other breeds, but no matter what breed they were, bantams were always my favorite.

Fast forward to adulthood, and though I’ve had my share of chickens since my youth, I hadn’t raised bantams for quite some time. Until recently, I was raising standard dual-purpose chickens in two different spots on the farm. One was a stationary coop, while the others were free-ranged birds. Both techniques had their share of problems. The free-range birds were dying faster than I could replace them (although the roosters seemed to survive fairly well … my lot in life I suppose), and the chicken coop stayed wet and nasty year-round. Even letting the cooped chickens out for an afternoon proved deadly from time to time, mostly from roaming dogs.

Although the solution to my dilemma was fairly simple, a pastured poultry pen would solve both of those problems, but since I had goats and a cow or two in the back pasture, I would have to keep them separate so the livestock wouldn’t destroy the pen from rubbing, knocking, or jumping on it. With only a small number of pullets (about ten bantams), it wouldn’t be feasible to block off a section of pasture long enough for the hens to eat their share of bugs and grass and then let it grow back for the rest of the critters.

The solution hit me while I was mowing the yard as I seem to do daily (at least it seems like that). Why not just stick the pen in the yard? I don’t use any synthetic fertilizers or pesticides so poisons weren’t a problem, and I have lots of Dutch clover that I encourage since I have a beehive.

So I set out to make a pen that was easily designed, a fast build, and left little scrap wood behind. Based on the number of bantams I had purchased, I decided on an 8 x 4 x 2 pen constructed of 2-by-4s and 1-inch mesh wire.

Moveable Pen

Brandon Mitchell
8/5/2010 9:24:32 AM

Yep, they'll lay in the tractor, or anywhere else for that matter. I haven't gotten to that point yet, but I'm getting close with a couple of pullets. When I see them start laying, I'll put in a nest box. Usually one box is recommended for every 5 hens, but I may stretch that out a little since more boxes equals less room.

8/2/2010 5:06:43 PM

We are planning on starting chickens this fall and want to pasture raise them as much as possible, with a coop for the winter. I like bantam eggs because they are so petite--more in line with how much egg we need to be eating--but do they lay in the tractor? I have so much to learn!

Brandon Mitchell
7/28/2010 11:06:47 AM

Right now I'm just using a pet carrier. It slides across the ground when I pull the pen and it will hold all the half-grown bantams I have now. It's under the covered portion of the pen so some of the chickens roost on top as well as inside. Later, I'll probably change to something different.

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