This is our current hen set up. The chicks are still in the brooder, and I’m going to need more space pretty soon, but for now this is the setup we have for our 6 hens. We got a free 10×10 chain link dog run through our local Buy Nothing group, and it’s great at keeping the predators out. I have a pop-up tent with a tarp over it over them to keep them dry and keep the eagles out. I do need to put down a ton of sand in there, but it will have to wait until another day.
At the old house they had a big fenced yard to roam in, eat grass dig in the garden, and poop on the deck – but our new property has a forested area that isnt yet fenced. Since I had no idea what’s lurking back there, just for now, they stay in the run. Next summer we will be clearing out the brush (the “forest” is about 2/3rds of an acre of big beautiful trees surrounded by 6+ foot tall razor sharp blackberry bushes).
If you don’t let your hens free range it’s important to give them something to do. Add what you can to make the coop interesting for them. I always say hens are dumb as rocks (and they are), but bored hens will eventually start pecking at each other. Some fun chicken stuff includes tossing in a rotting tree limb (lots of bugs to peck at under the loose bark), a lettuce pinata, a tire full of compost (they love to scratch it in for bugs and tasty nibbles and even poop in there. Its a quick way to make garden compost!), and a dust bath made by putting dry sand mixed with food grade dichotomous earth in a tire. Or just dirt. I doubt they care either way.
Chicken dust bath, photo credit to Sheila on backyardchickens.com
Some folks have made chicken swigs by hanging a branch in the coop! Here’s a pic from PetDiys.com:
It’s a good thing hens don’t know their names, but because apparently I can’t keep track.
- 2 Buff Orpingtons (Cupcake and Nugget), 1 year old (bought from another family)
- 1 Silver Laced Wyandotte – raised from a chick last spring. I honestly cant remember her name (it might be Rainbow).
- 1 Salmon Faverolles (Jojo), 2 years old and one of our first hens
- 1 Barred Rock (Sunshine), 1 year old (came from the other family)
- 1 Rhode Island Red, 1 year – craigslist purchase. No idea what her name is.
It’s March and yesterday for the first time I got 4 eggs! I’m so glad the sun is coming back, because I’m way too lazy to run a light out there.