Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Chicken Tunnels

Some of our "girls" in a section of the tunnel

In an effort to allow our chickens to "free range" yet still provide protection from the many predatory birds we have around here, we've been working to create our chicken tunnels.

These are a series of 5 or 10 foot chicken wire hoops that I can move around the yard and let the girls out to eat the weeds and bugs and work my yard for me while benefiting from the extra nutrition that this foraging gives them.  Currently I have a couple of corner sections to help with changing directions for my tunnels.  The tunnels are heavy wire sections of chicken fencing that we've cut and folded in half to create the hoop.  To secure it we've added wire that we've run through a piece of PVC to keep the chickens from cutting themselves on the wire. I used U shaped wire pieces that  you can buy in packs to hold down weed fabric to hold the sections in place along with some logs or blocks to block any escapes on hills or to be able to move these sections as they move through the tunnels.

The tunnel coming from the door we have on the side of the coop and up the side of  a planting bed to the cage at the end

Another view of the chickens in the tunnel

The tunnel running from the coop up the hill to the new A frame tractor

This was the very first day and short sections we had originally

As time goes on we'll add more corner pieces and hoops of varying lengths to be able to better cover the yard.  Initially I used an empty animal cage to serve as the end of the tunnel. And still will use this as the area I'm covering requires, but thanks to Kevin's re-purposing a couple of old screen doors and creating an A-frame chicken tractor I have another end piece that can hold several hens at once as well as some water cans while they work to clear my yard of weeds.

Kevin's handiwork as he's fit the two screen doors together and needs to add a door to one end and chicken wire to the other end to complete this chicken tractor that can be attached to our tunnels
Getting ready to add a door

We are now down to one rooster.  Our Polish Roo is the last man standing from the 15 roosters we had after originally getting a straight run of 28 chicks and then purchasing 2 more pullets a few months later.  Over the last year we've culled 8, sold 1 other Polish Rooster, re-homed our 3 large Cochin Roosters, our BLR (called Blur) and our Blue Cochin Max (he was called this because his crow sounded like the beginning of the Maxwell Smart theme).  It's A LOT quieter around here now!

One of the large Cochin Roosters

Hannah and I holding the 3 for a quick picture for the people who came to get them. They wanted an idea of their size. These were BIG BOYS, but as is Cochin nature they were sweet and gentle. Just noisy! As a disclaimer for my motley state, I'd been cleaning out the coop and dressed for that, and planned for the girls to hold the roosters while I acted as photographer. Unfortunately their size was too much for the girls so I had to step to the other side of the camera with Lauren handling the picture taking duty.

Saying goodbye as they get ready to leave for the farm the couple from Lakeland, Fl own.

Blur and the reason he had to go to another home- he loved to be heard!

Blur and his "girlfriend" who really misses him. Both are pretty Blue Laced Red Wyandotte's or BLR's for short

Max another really gorgeous Cochin, but sadly loud and who crowed constantly.  Again he and Blur went to a large farm where they will have more space and girls to watch over.

This last Rooster, Fumi - short for Fu-man Roo (Kevin's choice of names) is doing a great job of organizing the girls that are all interacting now that we have the door between the two sections of our large coop open for them to mingle.
Fu-man Roo Posing for his photo op

Oh Yea- he's the man!

Time for my close up "Dawling" - sorry had to have a bit of fun with these. 

The girls are doing a wonderful job on the yard and are LOVING the freedom the tunnels give them and we're enjoying the clearing they are doing in the yard and the reduction in feed because of the extra nutrition they're getting.

Now we just need a few more chicken tractors to add to the two we have to be able to more effectively move the girls around to other areas of the yard. Additionally some more sections of tunnel and we should be set to let our hens and rooster enjoy in safety the free range experience during the day before they are all safely returned and tucked away in the coop at night.

So that's the latest news on our little homestead.