Sunday, July 19, 2009

Good question

I received a good question recently, to do with my chicken coops. I was asked why I had so many? It's one of those things you don't really think about explaining, because the process has still been one of learning for me. But I'm glad they asked, because it's a way of accounting for the process so far.

1st Coop..."Middle Ridge"

When I made a decision to keep and breed, different heritage varieties of chicken, I knew it would require multiple housing arrangements. I just didn't realise to what extent or how urgent separate housing would be sometimes.

I learned a lot of fatal realities after I got chickens. Most sudden deaths I experienced early on, had to do with not understanding flock life and suitable housing arrangements properly. The most susceptible breeds died first, and while I can't bring them back I've always learned something new.

For my set-up now I've learned that happy, healthy chickens - especially for breeding - do best in separate, self-contained housing. The optimal arrangement would be to let them free range all day too, but I have Wedge-tail eagles, domesticated dogs and foxes to contend with also.

I've had to whittle down my chicken ambitions recently, to meet our current financial situation. But each coop is still being used - a different rooster in each coop with hens of their own breed. In one coop I have included a different breed of hen as well, but that's for an intentional cross. I'm looking forward to how that develops in future.

The A-frame remains empty most of the time now, but when I've had chickens become suddenly ill or hen-pecked in the main coop - the A-frame tractor has been an incredible emergency accommodation.

A-frame tractor...

I'd have more coops and tractors if I could, but I've learned to balance need with finances and realistic expectations. I can only spend so much time building chicken accommodation, while the rest of life calls. It's nice to have a dream and working towards fulfilling it, but you've also got to have a life. Mine at the moment also involves raising a daughter, looking after my medical needs so I'm around a lot longer, and being madly in love with my husband.

2nd Coop..."Hilltop"

But when I want something unique to exercise that natural curiosity of mine, I turn to keeping chickens. I love what they teach me about responsibility, life, limitation and renewal.

It would be interesting to hear why others keep chickens too, and what lengths they've gone to in the name of poultry addiction. :)

By the way, thanks for asking the question Spots - I've never stopped to think why before.


  1. Since you where so kind as to thoroughly answer my question, I should respond in kind.

    We recently ( started keeping chickens as it was the "natural" first step in having some type of farm type animal. But specifically the reason why we feel that chooks are worthwhile is for their eggs, meat, fertiliser, and utility purposes. Thus far we are only really using them for their eggs and fertiliser. In the future (once our proper coop is built), we will start breeding them and eating the cockerels. I also plan to build a lightweight poly pipe chook enclosure so that one or two can work a section of the veggie garden without destroying everything else. Currently they free range during the day, thus they have bare earthed a number of the ornamental gardens.

    As for the coop, it has just finished the foundation stage. The dimensions are 3.6 by 1.8 m. The floor will be 15 mm compressed fibre cement which is expensive, but also fox and rot proof. The fibre cement is making this a costly coop, but I am trying to use recycled materials for as much as the remainder as possible.
    I am also designing the coop so that I can have two separate sections in the one coop. This is for future breeding purposes.

  2. Thanks for jumping in. I love hearing from other chook keepers.

    We use the manure rich straw from the coop, in the compost heap. Breaks it down real fast and our citrus trees love it too - as long as it's been aged in the compost heap first.

    I admire anyone who can kill their own surplus chickens. I keep daring myself to do it, but I'm such a classic whus!

    Good luck with finishing off the permanent coop. Would love to see some photos on your blog later on.

    Happy farming & building! :)

  3. I had to reply to this one! The question of multiple chicken coops is, for me, a bit like bookcases - the more you have, the more books seem to fill them up (strange that!). We started with one - the portable Dome a la Linda Woodrow. Then of course once we got chooks and they decided to go broodie we couldn't resist getting some fertile eggs then you have to separate the chooks from the brood then they grow up to be roosters and you can't put five roosters with three girls then you find homes for the boys but still want more girls so you buy more then they turn things over much quicker and wouldn't it be good to have a more permanent home? then you're planning things on the backs of envelopes and looking online and something starts growing down the back yard then before you know it, it has a screen door and you're calling it the Summer Palace and thinking you've now got room for more then you broodies start again and you feel sorry for them and you go looking for eggs....well, you get the picture :)

  4. I can soooo relate Jacqui!!

    I still want to try some Barnevelders & New Hampshires, and I'm eyeing off a dingy old trailer wondering if it could be turned into a mobile coop!

    Terrible aren't I...

    Still, you've got to have dreams. :)


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