Over the many years of keeping chickens we’ve tried lots of systems and techniques for housing, feeding and managing them. For week 8 of our Crisis Gardening series we made a video about some of the current systems that make it work really well. You can watch it here, or just keep reading :-).
The deep litter system
Chooks are originally jungle birds and need a deep litter to scratch into – you never want them on bare earth as it’ll become stinky, unhealthy mess. Instead we put in loads of dry carbon materials to soak up all the poo and rain so it’s never stinky. Once-twice a year we dig the whole thing out and replace it with fresh carbon (i.e. woodchips, straw, brown leaves). The stuff we dig out heads straight to our compost bays or our orchard – which the trees love.
Our “self-cleaning” chook house is a winner. We never have to crawl in there to dig out poo, it’s easy to harvest eggs and the ladies are nice and comfy in there. You can read all about it on a previous blog we wrote here.
But what about foxes?
We don’t have foxes in Tasmania (I know, amazing), this means we don’t have to build really secure structures to lock them up in each night. If you do have foxes (or other predator animals), then we recommend building a straw yard as explained here by our dear friends at Very Edible Gardens.
The little chook tunnel helps connect the chooks to their green foraging area where our young hazelnut shrubs live – and lots of grass and weeds. They love it in there and we love it because it means they can help themselves to fresh greens whenever they like. Win win!
The chicken tunnel/passage can been seen above. It connects their main yard to their house, then to their feeding station and then down this passage behind our compost bays, under a little tunnel and into the forage section which you can see below around our rain tank.
This has been a life changing system for feeding our chooks. They can feed themselves and not attract unwanted flocks of birds or rodents – seriously, seriously great. You can read all about it here on a previous blog we wrote.
Overall, we can’t imagine a home without these feathered friends. They’re a wonderful addition to any home, helping turn it into a thriving, pumping place of production, rather than just consumption.