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A chicken question. January 31, 2009

Posted by ourfriendben in chickens, gardening, homesteading.
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No, our friend Ben does not want to know which came first, the chicken or the egg. (Hint: It was the egg.) What I would like to know is this: Backyard chicken keepers everywhere, what are your setups like? How many chickens do you have, and what breed(s) are they? Do you also keep a rooster? Do your chickens have an enclosed yard, or do you let them run free? What sort of coop do you have? And how well do you (and your chickens) like your setup?

Our friend Ben and Silence Dogood are quite happy with our kennel-fence enclosed chicken yard and coop, and our six heritage-breed chickens enjoy it, too. But over the years, I’ve read about many an interesting and ingenious setup, and last night, it occurred to me that I’d never really heard about them firsthand. Our friends Delilah and Chaz keep a tiny flock of three chickens in a churchlike coop with a heated floor (!), and a gardener I know keeps his fancy bantam flock in a one-of-a-kind designer coop, but they’re the only other backyard chicken keepers I know.

So how about it? Please tell all! Who knows, you may inspire other readers to get their own little backyard flock. (If they could just taste our flock’s rich, apricot-yolked eggs, I know they’d all get a few hens of their own. Chickens are easy-care, personable, and fun, a perfect complement to a backyard food garden.) Let us hear from you!

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1. bill price - January 31, 2009

I have kept bantam chickens for a little over 4 years in an upscale beach community. I built a coop w/one side open to the south that has 3 nests and perches for roosting. The yard is fenced and covered w/1 x 2 wire and raised 6″ from ground level. I have had 3 different kinds of bantams, because I travel a lot and if I am going away for long I just give them away and get some more. I have had black cochins, Japanese black tails, and now Old English games,Brassybacks. My cochins were prolific egg layers but they were too big and couldn’t fly up to the perches. The rooster was loud too, not that my neighbors mind. They just love them. My brassybacks don’t crow much at all, and you can barely hear them. I would advise anyone to do it,but you just have to be sure they are protected. They are so small that hawks and cats can get them, not to mention the coons and otters that live around here. They don’tlike wet feet either. I wouldn’t bother w/heat. They can stand just about any temperature.

Thanks so much, Bill! I love the name “brassybacks.” I’ll have to look them up in my chicken books! You’re quite right about the dangers from all sides—we put kenneling panels over our chicken yard as well as around it, and ran hardware cloth out a foot on each side under the wall panels to prevent burrowing under.

2. shibaguyz - January 31, 2009

Check out the Seattle Tilth website for their links and information on urban chickens. Also, Urban Hennery (link on our blog) has a ton on information throughout her blog. Alas, we are not among the urban chicken keepers. :(

Thanks, guyz! Seattle has certainly been at the forefront of the urban chicken renaissance. So why don’t you all get a couple? They’re so much fun! (Maybe a little TOO much fun for the boyz, though… )

3. jgh - February 1, 2009

You may have gleaned that I dream of having chickens someday, so every once in awhile I start researching coops. One that I saw (maybe on Garden Girl TV?) that really intrigued me was a portable one that could be moved to different places in the garden, over the raised beds for fertilizer! They were designed in such a way to fit perfectly over them.

Yes, those are called chicken tractors, Jen! (Not because they look like tractors, but because the chickens in them till and fertilize the soil in the garden beds like a tractor.) You might want to order the book “Chicken Tractor” and check them out in more detail!


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