As we learn and gain more experience with animal husbandry, our chicken keeping skills and techniques grow and change.  When we began keeping these beautiful birds we let them free range around the property, which quickly became problematic, with the poop in the driveway and the constant eating of the garden starts.  After trying many different locations for the flock we finally created a very large, permanent run for them on our south facing slope.  There they have lots of room to forage, as well as, a safe shelter for them at night. 

Our flock is changing season to season.  The breeds we currently keep are Welsummers, Bard Rocks, Light Sussex, Blue Laced Red Wyandottes, Americaunas, Black Australorps, Leghorn, Old English Games, Buff Rocks, Rhode Island Reds, and some Indian Runner ducks. 

Some tips we have picked up along the way to keep our birds happy and healthy...
-Keep on top of cleaning out their coop.  They need clean living quarters like we do!
-Dust their coop periodically with diatomacious earth to kill mites and keep their living quarters clean. 
-Feed your chickens whey.  If you have whey from your cheese or yogurt making, you can mix it into your chicken feed making a mash.  Their egg production goes up and they will be healthier with the extra protein, especially during molt.

Barak, our Leghorn rooster

We built some lightweight chicken tractors to harness the energy of our chooks.  We give them food, water, and a place to lay, and in turn they scratch, turn the soil, eat the insects and weeds, and clear the grass, leaving behind a new area ready for planting.  We have been leaving the tractor in place for 1-2 weeks, lightly tilling, then sheet mulching.  The tractors are 5' x 10', made from PVC pipe, deer fencing, chicken wire, and bamboo (just what we had lying around here).  No more scratching in the garden or pooping on the driveway around here!

a little lopsided but holding strong:)

first 2 beds prepared by chicken tractor (planted with pumpkins and zucchini)
chicken tractor 2.0, much more durable and stable



  1. on the 25th it will be a year for us raising chickens, too. I highly suggest that when you plant to figure out a way to fence off the yard or them because they will destroy your plants. Well, minus any basil you have growing. :) Fencing them in does have a different effect on the environment, i do like when they can roam freely but I also like being able to feed my family off of what little bit of space we have dedicated for that purpose. We have come with a compromise. right now we did some amending so chickens can roam freely. but once we start planting back to their predator proof enclosure.
    hope this helps.

  2. Thanks Erika. Yes we very quickly recognized the need for fencing around here so I did fence off the kitchen garden and we are working on fencing off a large area to actually farm but that may take a litle while. Hope you can come by some time to hang out.

  3. Yes, fencing is a must if the chickens are to free range. You may want to consider some type of moveable enclosure to keep the chickens enclosed and still ranging. (chicken tractor type of thing) The other option is too keep them enclosed and get some guinea fowl. They are interesting creatures. Can be a bit loud when they alert, but the benefits are many. They eat weed seeds and insects almost exclusively! That means they can be allowed into the garden and they do no damage. I had a flock of about 15 and would coral them into my garden and watch them move stealthily through, disturbing nothing but the pests. It was really quite amazing.

  4. Thanks M. We have a chicken tractor but it seems so small for them to all stay in. I think we will end up building a much larger coop. Guinea fowl sound interesting. Did you have them for their eggs and if so how do they taste?

  5. Is the box in the tractor for laying eggs? Do the use the box?

  6. Yes The box is filled with straw and they do lay in there.