Upgrading Your Old Tractor: 6V to 12V Conversion, Roll-Over Protection, and More

What upgrades and old-time tricks should you consider for your old tractor? Is a 12V conversion a good idea? A roll bar? A comfy seat?Read on!

I bought my tractor a year after moving to my 37-acre farm in Western Oregon. I needed a tractor just to keep the pastures from turning into forest. In addition, I raise free-range hens in portable houses, and the houses need to be pulled to a new location from time to time.

My tractor is a 1957-vintage Ford 640. Like the more numerous “N” series tractors — 9N (1939 model) 2N (1942 model) and 8N (1948 model), it is a gasoline-powered four-cylinder utility tractor with a three-point hydraulic hitch and a PTO (power takeoff unit) on the back. It’s bigger than the N-series tractors, with about 35 HP. At the time I bought it, I thought it would be nice to have a tractor that was powerful enough to pull a ground-driven hay baler, though now I know enough people who have been injured by balers that I’ve lost interest.

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Robert Plamondon
Robert Plamondon has written three books, received over 30 U.S. patents, founded several businesses, and is an expert on free-range chickens. His publishing company, Norton Creek Press, is a treasure trove of the best poultry books of the last 100 years.

FAQ: Baby Chick Care

Getting started with baby chicks? Robert Plamondon, author of Success With Baby Chicks, tells you what you need to know.

1. How should I brood day-old chicks?

For a complete list of steps, see my baby chick checklist.

Baby chicks in their mailing boxBaby chicks need an external source of heat. Naturally brooded chicks are warmed by nestling against their mothers. Groups of chicks can maintain body heat by huddling together, which is why day-old chicks can be shipped by mail.

People brooding fewer than 1,000 chicks at once generally use electric brooders.

Large commerical poultry operations generally use big propane brooders with a central brooder and a metal canopy, or hover, that retains the heat. Each brooder handles up 1,000 or more chicks.

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Robert Plamondon
Robert Plamondon has written three books, received over 30 U.S. patents, founded several businesses, and is an expert on free-range chickens. His publishing company, Norton Creek Press, is a treasure trove of the best poultry books of the last 100 years.

Chicken FAQ: Managing Your Roosters

My rooster is attacking people. What do I do?

Kid 0, Rooster 1The first thing to do is to ask yourself, “Am I smarter than a rooster?”

Most people aren’t. They let the rooster take charge. If the rooster decides it’s time to have a fight, you fight. You don’t question his decision, just his judgment: “He’s crazy: I’m the one who’s going to win!” But you’re not making the decisions—he is. You’re taking orders from a chicken!

Luckily, if you follow my program, you can become smarter than a rooster. Learn how, right now.

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Robert Plamondon
Robert Plamondon has written three books, received over 30 U.S. patents, founded several businesses, and is an expert on free-range chickens. His publishing company, Norton Creek Press, is a treasure trove of the best poultry books of the last 100 years.

Chicken FAQ: Should You Put Dropping Boards Under Your Roosts?

What is a dropping board? It’s a board you place under the chicken roosts, where it collects manure and smells bad.

Why would use use a dropping board? Beats me It seems to be one of those 19th century poultrykeeping ideas that hang on forever.

Disadvantages of Dropping Boards

In Fresh-Air Poultry Houses, Dr. Woods wrote the following:

Recently I was in a plaster-finished closed-type poultry house where the dropping boards are scraped clean daily and sprinkled with earth. The house was decidedly smelly, though apparently clean. The manure-saturated wood of the dropping board, which has been treated frequently with disinfectants, contributed largely to the stench. I would not want a house like that and would find it unpleasant to work in one, but it seemed to suit the owner, and as he appeared so well satisfied I made no comment.

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Robert Plamondon
Robert Plamondon has written three books, received over 30 U.S. patents, founded several businesses, and is an expert on free-range chickens. His publishing company, Norton Creek Press, is a treasure trove of the best poultry books of the last 100 years.

The Cure for Culling Male Chicks?

beth_and_baby_chicks_smIn a world where egg-type chickens such as White Leghorns are valued only for their egg production, and there are very few people who want a White Leghorn cockerel for Sunday dinner, what happens to all the male baby chicks? An article in The New Food Economy called The Cure for Culling explains both the problem and a promising new cure: in-shell sexing.

One of the authors, Harry DiPrinzio, contacted me for my take on the issues here, and in particular a spiffy new technology that can tell the gender of a chicken embryo fairly early in its development.

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Robert Plamondon
Robert Plamondon has written three books, received over 30 U.S. patents, founded several businesses, and is an expert on free-range chickens. His publishing company, Norton Creek Press, is a treasure trove of the best poultry books of the last 100 years.