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Chickens: Are we ready for them?

Chickens… Should we? More so the questions seems to be why shouldn’t we. This place could use a little henning up. I found some fleas on the dogs the other day, the grasshoppers are running wild and well, who doesn’t want chickens! It’s been a while since we have had some, but the last ones, were awesome. Couldn’t beat the eggs or the entertainment. We had a rooster in our last flock and I’d like one again in this one. (We had to get rid of the rooster since we were in city limits)

So the breeds I haven’t really decided on yet, but the housing is finally come to a concise point where its time to go source out some free lumber.

So what’s the plan? Same as it always has been, create a mobile chicken pen and divide up the acre into sections.

The sections as they stand right now are

Section 1 – Hugel Island

Section 2 – Fruit Tree Row

Section 3 -Middle of the acre ( Compost, double ponds, just east of shed

Section 4 – North West section of the acre

Section 5 – North East section of the acre

Section 6 – Back Lawn

Section 7 – East Side Lawn

Section 8 – Front Yard

Wow, a lot more sections than anticipated, but awesome all the same!! This way I’ll have be able to start developing a paddock shift system. If i can have them migrate through the section in order then I’ll have a complete rotation of the farm one area a week should do. We should start there. (Think about combining section 7 & 8)

Back to the mobile chicken coop. I know everyone calls them chicken tractors, a couple guys in Australia came up with a chicken caravan, that is quite ingenious in it’s design. Mine will not be that extravagant, nor will it cost anything close to what theirs did.  I’m working on the free route, unfortunately it means waiting for somethings to come available through the community. I just started my hunt yesterday and hopefully after I get home tomorrow we cans tart building.

Mobile Chicken Coop Tips:

I picked these up from a youtube video and lay no claim to them, but I can’t help to pass them on.

Fenced and Raised Feeders/Water – This way when you are moving the Coop the water and feed are built into the design so that they move too. The guy I saw had them fenced as well with standard garden fencing and even clipping some of the wires so that the larger chicken heads could fit through too. BUT everything moved with the Coop when it was moved. The fencing allows for them to eat, but now walk through the water soiling it.

Nesting Boxes – There are a ton of ideas online about these things. From what I have read the standard seems to be around 12″ deep, 9-10″ across and another 12″ high. Then I saw the bucket idea. This is great. So you get a 5 gallon bucket and take half off leaving a bit near the top.

High Roosting Box – Caught this little tidbit that they feel more secure higher off the ground. No need to go crazy, 3-4 feet should be fine.

Chicken Self Watering Nipple  – Simple little gadget that you install into a water feeder tube (PVC) and they get their own water when they need it.

Safety Push Bar – This little gizmo was installed inside the mobile coop where there was potential for the chickens to get caught while moving the coop.

SOLAR LIGHTS!!! – Amazing. One of those why didn’t I think of that, as I’m watching grasshoppers propel themselves at the light in the darkness only to be repelled by the glass window. This is a great way to bring the food to them.

Electric Fence – Simple yet possibly necessary if they are free ranging. Just an idea.

Self Feeding Bucket – I saw another youtube video where this gentleman had something hooked to a bolt where the chicken bumped and food would come out.might just be five gallon bucket with a bolt and some washers attached. I’ll have to watch that video again.

Gravity Feeding Pipe (Feed Silo) – This was PVC setup where on the bottom there were three piece that fit together to form a feed silo. there was piece cut out of the coupling piece as well as the end cap.

So that’s the tips, that aren’t mine. I’m going to use them though. Don’t tell.

So pricing on feed I found I was going to be able to pick up 150lbs of food for about the same as our 30lbs of dog food. Loving it, and hopefully this will easily take care of them over the winter.

That’s it for now… Maybe next time we’ll explore my thought son breeds.