We have added a few chickens to our family. The grandchildren and I went down and purchased some chickens. Each grand child was able to pick 2 chickens Dallas chose Black Australorp, Marina chose 2 from the assorted chick bin. Aiden wanted Partridge Rock and Autumn Black Star sex link. Now since then they have all changed their minds on who wanted which chick.... but that is the list!
For my birthday Karl bought some Easter Eggers (which is what I wanted the most!) and I picked up a few polish imperial chicks.
When I was growing up we had chickens. Cleaning the coup was not my favorite thing. The smell and having inches of chicken manure to clean was an experience I did not want to repeat. After a great deal of research I decided to go with a chicken tractor. The specifications where simple: Easy to move, Animal proof, Easy to clean. Year round home for the chickens
My favorite was the Hen Hideout. Easy to move, made of PVC. It is much fancier than ours, but it was a good starting point for us. Karl made the pvc framework and I added the chicken wire. We opted for chicken wire instead of the smaller wire they used. It has worked out fine.
Raccoons concerned me. They are very strong and could easily get under the edge of the coup. We also have ermine and mink. Of course, we have bears as well. But I cannot stop a bear. There is an electric fence on the edge of the orchard that should help with bears.
For the smaller animals, I put a row of 2' wide chicken wire around the edge of the coup. It worked like a champ, nothing could get it. But it made moving the coup very difficult. This year I removed the wire. Arrow, our border collie, is out there all night. I decided to remove the wire. So far so good.
My axle needs work. I can move the coup but it is a tad heavy to get it up on the wheels. I knew using plywood on the sides would make it heavier. I am working on figuring out a way to make it easier to move.
Keeping the coup clean is easy. I am thrilled with the way it is working out. When I clean the coup I lightly spread the manure around the fruit trees. There is not much so I do not worry about burning the trees with to much fertilizer. I move the coup once a week, to I get the orchard fertilized.
There is a hidden benefit to having the chickens - we call them the grounds crew. This spring I used the backhoe to rotor till the garden and I was dreading the spring raking. I knew my ribs were going to be sore. But the rains came in and I could not get out there. The chickens leveled the garden out. It was wonderful! They did it again for me in the raspberry bed. They leveled the dirt out as neat as could be. Today I put a load of dirt by the hole the voles dug and the chickens leveled it out. Great workers!