on March 9, 1999
In this book, Andy Lee demonstrates that a market gardener can raise chickens. Sadly, his chicken tractor design (Chapter 3) is both too heavy and too fragile for use in even such a mild climate as western Oregon. It is also too tall to step into, but too short to walk into. No animal pen should be so difficult to work in.
A better chicken tractor design can be found in Joel Salatin's _Pastured Poultry Profits_ or by searching the Web.
A better book on raising chickens is Gail Damerow's _A Guide to Raising Chickens_, which I consider the best book for a novice to chickens.
on April 9, 2001
I will add my voice to the other reviewers because there seems to be a wide swing in opinion and maybe my thoughts will help others to decide whether or not to get this book. First of all, I know absolutely nothing about chicken-raising...starting from "scratch", as it were. I think the most serious flaw in "Chicken Tractor" is that the author barely mentions how to set up for laying hens and concentrates mainly on raising broilers and fryers; yet he always refers to slaughtering the chickens as "processing", a euphemism that is confusing at best. He refers to "processing plants", i.e. places that you take your live chickens and return to pick up "dressed", frozen chickens, but says that using this method is costly. He mentions home-slaughtering with the briefest of references to machines with horrifying names like "killing cone, thermostatically-controlled scalding vat and table-top plucking machine", but only says the machines are expensive and then leaves the reader totally in the dark (perhaps mercifully). I agree with the other reviewers that the author rambles and repeats himself endlessly, although when I realized that he would present the same information twice in a row, I just skipped the second go-round. I also agree that the cartoons are not very helpful in figuring out how you actually go about building the items needed. His instructions on building the chicken tractor could be followed, with some difficulty. But anyone trying to figure out how to build the perches and egg-laying boxes would have an almost impossible time trying to find that in this book. Also, he does a lot of cost calculations that date the book and are only minimally helpful. You will have no idea how to raise chicks or how to determine which rooster will be less noisy from reading this book. I gleaned only a fuzzy idea of how to protect my flock from predators or dogs.
The book's strengths lie in the explanation (albeit stated MANY times over) of the bio-ecological circle (he calls it "stacking) a small farmer strives for between the chicken manure enriching the soil, the soil producing more vegetables, scraps of which in turn feed the chickens, and so on. Another strength of the book is the list of suppliers and resources. The list of chicken breeds is quite long, but would have benefitted by adding more information about each variety. Bottomline, I think the book has some worthwhile information, but I definitely agree with the other reviewers who say that you will need other books in order to understand how to optimally raise chickens on a small farm. It might be better to start with another book.
on July 22, 2000
I bought the Chicken Tractor book two years ago. After reading the book, I built my first chicken tractor using available materials and soon had chickens installed and laying eggs. I soon made more chicken tractors with improvements to the first design and filled them with chickens. It didn't take long for me eggs coming out my ears. I also enjoyed some fine pasture raised broilers. My first chicken tractors were made from wood, but now I am making them from PVC pipe with plastic roof panels as they are lighter and easier to pull.
I am getting ready to start a goat tractor and a turkey tractor. And I am really looking forward to a home raised turkey for Thanksgiving.
The book gave me the ideas and I was able to implement them with no trouble. It was also helpful with places to order chickens, chicken raising equipment, and full of great information on rare breeds of chickens. While it is written in a simple style and does go over the material a couple times....I realize that people who have never raised chickens before need that kind of help. Even though I have had chickens for 25 years, I still learned some things. I was using the traditional chicken house design and the chicken tractors are so much better and much more useful.
on December 15, 2000
This book is a great source of poultrykeeping ideas, containing descriptions of the different approaches taken by a large number of individuals. It sheds light on the innumerable possibilities and styles of poultry raising and how poultry can be kept synergistically with other farm or garden activities.
However, the book does not provide the detailed, step-by-step instructions that novice poultrykeepers often long for. It attempts to do so in places, but not successfully.
Still, this is a must-have book for anyone interested in poultry. Other books provide the nuts-and-bolts details, yet do not present the sweeping range of possibilities that this one does.
Basically, you're going to have to buy at least two books. For the backyard poultrykeeper, it would be this book and STOREY'S GUIDE TO RAISING CHICKENS by Gail Damerow. For the small farmer, PASTURED POULTRY PROFITS by Joel Salatin is an absolute necessity. But CHICKEN TRACTOR has its own unique merits and should not be neglected.
on September 6, 2003
I used this book for some research and experiment ideas in agriculture. while it has some great general ideas and concepts, i found that the entire instructions for building the chicken tractor were lacking in detail and had conflicting drawings and steps. some required materials were not listed, and the process was vague. in reading the book, it seemed to me like a great book idea, but was very hastily presented and lacked thorough attention to detail. it looked very "thrown together". it is a book i recommend checking out from a library if you want some ideas, but i wouldn't waste my money purchasing it in hopes of practical steps for a chicken tractor. (the book might give inspiration, but YOU will have to come up with the practical details of trying and experimenting to build your tractor.) hint...lightweight and portable materials and use creativity to adapt their basic (and vaguely presented) tractor
on February 27, 2006
Because of the reviews I read here, I didn't buy this book when I bought Salatin's Pastured Poutry Profits, now I wish I had. It has a lot of good information and is entertaining to read. I borrowed from the library and am considering buying one for our home library in the future. Andy Lee gives you some good examples in both the NE and NC of how he has raised chickens, for meat and eggs. He has a good background with lots of hand-on experience. He does this for his own food and for some money, these are not just pet "no kill" animals. I found the most interesting part to be his ideas on using a greenhouse to start chicks on the ground in hay under the benches in the spring, then after moving the birds out to tractors, making your greenhouse into a naturally fertized and mulched bed for summer vegetables followed by a fall brooder for another crop of egg laying hens that can overwinter there. He moves his greenhouses and tractors, leaving behind beautifully fertilzed mulched garden beds, that's the most exciting thing for me -- my wrists and arms hurt when I dig with a shovel! He also gives a good idea of costs, of course you may need to adjust for the year and place you live, but it does give a good basic plan to follow. If you want to know how exactly how to build a chicken tractor, follow the basic plans and get some wood and nails and tools and try to do it! They are good enough if you have common sense and want to use what you have on hand or can scrounge up! I gave this only 4 stars (it would be 4-1/2 if I could) just because everyone needs room for improvement, but that's the highest rating I usually ever give. Best of luck to everyone with their farming enterprises, we need to step away from Walmart and the rest!
on May 6, 2004
I originally got some chickens because Martha Stewart said they love to eat crickets and here in the desert we have quite a problem with crickets. I found out that chickens are wonderful pets, not much trouble, very friendly and they have personalities. And they really eat bugs - best pest control you can have. I read this book on the concept of the chicken tractor and realized for the suburban gardener this is ideal. Hens eat bugs, grain, and vegetable scraps from the kitchen. Hens are great little composters, and they eat weed seeds and pests up to and including scorpions and baby mice and snakes. They don't need much except food and water, and protection from predators. We allow ours to roam a fenced in yard freely, and pen them up at night. This is a useful book if you just want a few hens and want to improve your soil (we don't move our hens around, once a year we take 4 inches off the soil in their yard and spread it around our trees and gardens.) The eggs are great - I like giving green eggs to little kids because they all have read Dr. Seuss. This book isn't for someone who is more interested in egg-laying or meat production on a large scale. And, by the way, we don't eat our hens. We are running a chicken retirement home - they don't lay eggs any more, but they still till, compost, eat weed seeds, and control pests.
on February 16, 1999
This is a great idea. I built a chicken tractor and recommend it to anyone interested in raising poultry for fun or profit. The authors are experts on raising chickens but could use a good editor and advice from a technical writer. The book rambles in places, is repetitive in places, and is in places not very "user friendly". For example, there is not a single clear photograph or a detailed drawing of a chicken tractor! Anyone who really wants to build one can figure it out, but the instructions and drawings could be much better.
on November 28, 1999
I purchased the book because I was interested in raising chickens and building a chicken tractor. The technical aspects of building the chicken tractor are not clearly outlined, but after many re-readings I was able to construct one. The authors also mention nesting boxes and pop door on the chicken tractor but show no pictures or diagrams. Much of the information was repetitive in spots, and I thought that many of the cartoons were in bad taste.
on February 20, 1999
As would-be Permaculturalists, what a great idea to raise a few chickens for eggs, occasionally throw one in the pot, in the meantime fertilizing gardens and orchard. We bought "Chicken Tractor" on the promise that everything we would need to know was contained therein. We are very disappointed. The authors do a good job with the chickens' abilities to fertilize. However, their focus is on raising chickens for slaughter and sale. Although they refer to "eggmobiles", one is referred elsewhere for plans. We wish we had foregone this book, and started elsewhere.