Posts tagged ‘chicken coop’

The chickens are coming Pt.III – Building chicken coops

When building your chicken coop I suppose you have several options. The first choice I think you need to make is how many chickens you plan to keep. Many councils limit the number that can have in suburban areas to 6 hens. Any more than that and you are probably beyond the scope of this article.

Once you have determined the number of hens you are going to keep, then you really need to decide whether you are going to have a mobile coop or a fixed one. I have already shown my decision, a fixed coop, in a post here, but for the benefit of readers I’ll run through some of the reasons why you might chose either.

One of the chicken coop posts in place.

One of the chicken coop posts in place.

Mobile chicken coops have many benefits if you aren’t able to let your chickens roam free. You can move the hen house to various locations around your garden enabling them to graze on different areas, improving their nutrition and giving some of the benefits of free-ranging. Mobile coops are often also cheaper to build or buy.

Fixed coops on the other hand are more of an undertaking. They do limit you in that unless you let the chickens out they will be stuck in the one spot, but I have found that it is easy enough to put up some temporary fencing and let the chickens run free where I need them (such as turning over the vegie garden).  Fixed hen houses can potentially cost more to build, or on the other hand they may be cheaper. As mobile coops are constantly being moved and bumped about their construction needs to be extra sturdy which limits the chance to use mixed or recycled materials. With a fixed chicken coop as long as you aren’t too fussy about the appearance you can incorporate many different materials in the construction, much of which can be recycled. I constructed my coop out of hardwood timber and welded mesh. For the roof I used some sheet metal that I had lying around. continue reading..

Shhh, the chickens are coming, Pt I – The Reasons.

I’ve been wanting to get chickens into the garden for some time now and the time has come to take some action. The reasons for getting chickens are many and before I launch into my series of posts on setting up and actually getting them, I’ll cover some of the reasons why you would want them in your backyard plot.

Firstly chickens add another layer of productivity to the garden. Permaculture maintains that the inclusion of animals in the productive space is necessary to create a more natural ecosystem. I’m not an obsessive permaculture fan but I do subscribe to their theory on the need to include livestock. Unfortunately I don’t have the space to include pigs and the like and living in a metropolitan area they can’t be included without Council approval, but chickens don’t take much space, and you can have several without needing to involve the bureaucracy.

Chickens can also be used for pest reduction in the garden. When a vegetable area has finished its productive spell at the end of the season, fence that area off (so the chickens don’t wreck the rest of the garden) and put the chickens in there to scratch over the soil and eat any remaining insect pests. In the process they’ll also fertilize the soil and start loosening up the soil as well. Your garden will benefit and the chickens will benefit from the extra insects in their diets. Just don’t forget to return them to their coop in the evening!

Initially when looking at getting chickens I was a little disappointed with the possible loss of vegetable scraps into the compost, as they would go to the chickens instead. Like all gardeners I love to be able to get my hands on as much compost as possible and anything that looks like it will reduce it tends to meet with resistance from me. However I think the opposite will be the case. I plan to use straw in the base of the coop and the pre-fertilized carbon rich material will add to the compost beautifully. My compost tends to be too nitrogen rich generally due to the grass clippings from the lawn, so adding the straw should balance it and bulk it out well.

My last reason for including chickens is that they add a beautiful ambiance to the garden. Which I think is reason enough.

Do you have any other thoughts? Reasons that I may have missed? Let me know by posting a comment below.