14 March 2013

Chicken run

Before we got chickens we had decided that we wanted their coop and run to be mobile so that it was easier to preserve the lawn by moving it around periodically. Their coop isn't too heavy, and Grant added wheels to one end too, so that is easily moved.

Of course the hens would need more space than their small coop could provide, so we set about planning their run. We talked through various designs and materials and then I came across this idea for a trampoline chicken run which we thought was genius.

By the way, for those who are wondering why the run wasn't ready before we got the chickens, Grant has had whooping cough and wasn't able to do much while he was sick. He's on the mend now, thanfully, although it takes about 10 weeks or more for the cough to go.

Before he started wiring in the base Grant decided to remove the poles and net. The kids don't actually use the trampoline that often and it would make the whole structure lighter to move. Of course, once converted to a chicken run the boys will have to ensure the chooks were in their coop before jumping on the trampoline anyway.

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Then he got some chicken wire and started caging in the bottom of the trampoline.

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Just be patient, Doris, not long now!

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Noah does a bit of quality control.

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Grant also made a little portable tunnel. The coop door opens and fastens onto the tunnel, or we are able to unlatch it and close and fasten the coop when we want to lock the girls in for the night.

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At last it was done and the girls moved in.

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Here's an overview. (The towel is pegged on because the roosting area has barred doors and we wanted to keep them cosy from draughts. We will enclose the doors properly.)

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So far they seem quite happy in there, going about their business, running about, scratching a little, pecking the ground, eating bugs, and establishing their pecking order without too much fuss (which lets us know that it is enough space for them). FYI, Marble seems to be top of the pecking order, and I think either Kiki or Tulip comes second. Doris is very submissive and gets pecked on her bum by Marble when she wants her to move. Marble pecks Tulip too, although today I saw Tulip give her a peck on the bum back, which made me laugh. But overall they seem to be getting along just fine.

Obviously the ideal, once we can buy a house of our own, is to let them free range in the back yard. Hopefully that won't be too far off in our future - but for now, this will have to do. If it becomes evident that they need even more space we'll build a portable run that is bigger / higher. But they are able to stretch out, flap their wings, and even run a little under the trampoline.

And I couldn't finish this post without some gratuitous pictures of the girls!

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Doris's mature tail feathers haven't come in yet, hence the stubby look.

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The queen bee.

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