Hello from South West Victoria

reeeen4

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Hi everyone,
Recently my husband and I and our 2 young kids moved out to the country to my family farm with the hopes of being self sufficient. We have been setting up our vegetable garden which we hope to grow most of our own produce and have a cheap Chinese incubator which we currently have a few eggs in (which is not going well haha) we are hoping to raise our own chickens for meat and eggs and maybe quail too. Foxes are a real challenge due to our location so thinking of building some chicken tractors. We are also hoping to set aside some of our beef and sheep to live off too once we have taken over that part of the operation from my grandfather who owns the farm we have moved to.

Any advice on chicken tractors or incubating eggs would be greatly appreciated!
 
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ClissAT

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Hi there reeeen4, welcome.
I hope you are feeling ok today with this extreme heat. I know being in the west of the state you aren't in the worst of the fire zone, but it doesn't take much to spark one off anywhere.
Now re the chicken tractor. I'd be very careful using a tractor if you've got foxes because those darned critters can get into anything.
I doubt you could make a tractor that would be light enough to be mobile, yet heavy enough to be properly fox proof.
Anything that has a door in it that doesn't have a strong heavy frame that closes securely against concrete will eventually let a fox in as they will work on that slight gap until it yields a smidge.
The door of a chicken tractor is going to be a weak point from the get go. A fox can get through a gap in a solid frame that yields less than 3 inches wide. And anything that is not solid, ie wire netting, they will work on the hole until they can fit their nose in. Then their whole body will follow.
 

Wedgetail

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Hi reeeen4 you live in a great part of the country we lived for 3 years in Warrnambool loved the area but boy it got cold.. Built a chook pen year's ago first dug a trench about 300mm deep filled with rocks then poured concrete on top and flatten off and fixed a 4x2 hardwood board to the concrete used 1800mm high chicken wire fastened the bottem to the 4x2 used solid gate posts and good fitting steel frame gate never had a bushy tail get in and there was alot about chicken wire on the roof is a must if you have anything that likes to fly out early in the morning as the old fox is still out and about after sunrise We lost a couple of ducks that way before I put the top on. Cheers Dave
 
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reeeen4

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Thank you everyone!!

@ClissAT & @Wedgetail Thanks for the advice you made me rethink my designs for my chicken tractor!

Thanks @Mark I have been watching your youtube vids and learning heaps. Very excited to start our own self sufficient journey.

I've been attempting to incubate my own eggs and learnt a very expensive lesson that incubators need to be calibrated. Sadly I lost 18 eggs not realizing my incubator was set to 38.8ish. I have calibrated it now and have bought a bunch of eggs for a test run. Fingers crossed it works out, I don't know very well what I'm doing haha
 

RobinsSea

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Welcome, reeeen4! Wow, your experience with incubators has firmed our resolve to get some "rescue chooks" for now. The chook house is in process of being built (kit) but first, going to put down a solid foundation... thinking either railroad ties or concrete beams, and then dyna-bolting the house and chook run to that. We can only have 4 chooks - council regs - so the house and run will suffice and of course, when we're out gardening we'll give the chooks a pen-free day scratchin' around and stuff. We have foxes and goanas and an eastern brown down the back, but my magpies - who I feed every so often - have promised to let me know if any intruders call... :)
 

DTK

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Hi reeeen4, and welcome. At the moment we have no chooks because we have been travelling a bit immediately post retirement. We will restock shortly. Our "night pen" is a commercially purchased, large bird cage and we have it sitting on a concrete slab. There is a day yard built with chainwire fencing which surrounds the night pen, but no roof on the day yard. We have foxes here a plenty and they have taken birds/chooks previously when we have neglected to lock the chooks away at night or the neighbour has done similar. Good luck with your restocking!
 

ClissAT

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RobinsSea that's very altruistic to reuse older chooks. I got mine several years ago from a free range organic farm and they gave me two good years of laying and delight before succumbing to chook diseases.

Can I just mention a few things about the flooring for a chook pen.
Some people think it will help them keep the pen clean to concrete the floor or stop animals digging in or chooks digging out.
But what mostly happens is the chooks wear down their claws to the stubs which then get infected.
Using rail sleepers sounds better but they often get big splinters coming off them particularly when chooks are scratching around.
Chook legs and feet are very powerful!
Again their feet can get a splinter and get infected.
Dirt is by far the best flooring for a pen. It is easy to rake clean and refill their scratching holes every so often to move them to a new bit of soil.
You must allow them to dust bathe in a hole they create for themselves.
Make sure the floor area drains well in wet weather.
Dig the fence mesh into the ground all around the pen or lay it onto the ground and apply your sleepers on-top of it to hold it down.
That's the best way to critter proof your pen. Have the door closing against a sleeper so it only opens outward and you have to step over the sleeper to enter the pen.
 
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RobinsSea

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Very good points, Cliss... thank you for the insight.

By "foundation", I failed to say that I'm only considering it for the perimeter of the run and the pen, in order to dynabolt the house and run to something secure - we have foxes and an Eastern Brown and goanas and other curious critters who wouldn't mind calling in on our little feathered family.

The inside flooring is going to be just plain (filtered) dirt: built this UBeaut dirt filter - sieve - in order to remove the rocks and roots from that donated dirt from what is going to be a pool, eventually. You can see that sieve in a little video on my website... easy enough to build, and all that detrous - rocks and roots - can help build swales down the bottom of our yard to hold in the water.

But yeah, I so want the chooks a-scratchin'... it is one of the most important things they do! We're going to let them out of their run when we're home and out gardening so they get a bit of variety, too.
 
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GKW

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Very good points, Cliss... thank you for the insight.

By "foundation", I failed to say that I'm only considering it for the perimeter of the run and the pen, in order to dynabolt the house and run to something secure - we have foxes and an Eastern Brown and goanas and other curious critters who wouldn't mind calling in on our little feathered family.

The inside flooring is going to be just plain (filtered) dirt: built this UBeaut dirt filter - sieve - in order to remove the rocks and roots from that donated dirt from what is going to be a pool, eventually. You can see that sieve in a little video on my website... easy enough to build, and all that detrous - rocks and roots - can help build swales down the bottom of our yard to hold in the water.

But yeah, I so want the chooks a-scratchin'... it is one of the most important things they do! We're going to let them out of their run when we're home and out gardening so they get a bit of variety, too.
Good vid!
 
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