How To Keep Chickens: Tips & Tricks

May 11, 2020

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.

Older deep litter on the left we’re digging out and some fresh woodchips that will replace it all. 

Chook house

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.

Chicken tunnel

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.

Chook feeder

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.

your thoughts:

9 Comments

  1. Gabriel

    Hi Hannah! Love the video and the description here. Thank you, it will be very useful for when we go ahead and get some little birds in the future. Just one question, what pellets are you giving to them? Is any way to get it in bulk to save some money in the long run? Cheers

    Reply
  2. Laney

    Hi Hannah,
    I love your set up!

    How do you protect your baby trees from having their roots decimated from the scratching chooks? I would love to have mine around my fruit trees but they have proven themselves to be very effective diggers….

    Reply
    • Hannah Moloney

      We place medium-sized rocks around their base so the chooks can’t scratch there. You can also place chicken wire around the tree (like a donut shape) to do the same 🙂

      Reply
  3. KRISTY

    Hi Hannah
    I just made the automatic feeder and the chooks (and me) live it. They caught on within 10 minutes with a bit of yoghurt on the toggle to help. I was wondering if regular straw is fine to use in the deep litter – is that what you use?
    Thanks

    Reply
  4. sarah

    this has helped me alot thanks for the info

    Reply
  5. brendan

    i wish i could have hens but i am in the city. some day i hope

    Reply
  6. brendan

    i wish i could have hens but i am in the city. some day i hope

    Reply
  7. Aaron

    Hi Hannah, I remember seeing somewhere that you were growing specific greens to feed your chickens. Do you have any recommendations for which greens are best for chickens that can be easily grown at home? Thanks!

    Reply

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