Breaking new ground

I’ve been feeling guilty for quite some time about the lack of fresh grass in our two runs for the hybrids and Araucanas. They’ve been bare earth for a while now and quite apart from the fact the girls love nothing better than scratching about to glean insects in between the blades, if it becomes waterlogged, bare ground can harbour a greater number of parasites such as the various worms that prey on hens.

The hybrids have decimated what was once lush grass

When we first set up the coops and chicken-wired enclosures, we’d no idea how voracious poultry are. Completely green to the whole delightful hobby, we imagined the runs were so large (and they’re a very good size), that the parcels of pasture would sustain them for years. Bald patches started to appear however and soon the grass had receded completely.

The hybrids’ run is so large that we’re planning to divide it in two and rest one half and re-seed it. Once the grass has grown up in that one, we’ll move the hybrids across and tend to the other. Simple.

Due to the fact there are only two, Araucanas Mabel and Audrey, in our other flock, I’m going to find a mobile coop with an attached run that I can move around the garden, rotating areas of grass so the lawn isn’t destroyed and the girls get plenty of greens. The theory is with these that – if moved frequently enough – the fox doesn’t have a chance to excavate under the run, as this can take several attempts in the same place.

In an ideal world, we’d be building this henhouse and run out of salvaged materials, but considering we’ve been renovating a house for almost six years, I feel that’s unlikely. So a purchase it will be, though I don’t want to spend very much (though I want one that, if wooden, was made with sustainably sourced timber) and would prefer a second-hand option if possible. I’ve been looking at funky Omlets, arks stocked by a nearby farmshop and searching eBay (sadly, the most bargainous buy is in the West Midlands) and Freecycle (where chickens were on offer but not a coop!) for suitable candidates. Does anyone else have any suggestions about where to buy?

Audrey and Mabel have been browsing for new digs

4 thoughts on “Breaking new ground

  1. I very much enjoy your blog, thanks for a your tales. Did you see the following options on the web:
    http://www.chickencoopsdirect.com/medium-chicken-loft.htm
    http://www.chickencoopsdirect.com/eco-chicken-houses.htm
    This one is is pricey but hilarious:
    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Eglu-Classic-Green-Chicken-House/dp/B006MWYJ34/ref=pd_sim_sbs_kh_20

    I currently don’t have chickens but grew up with a grandfather who had about 50 chickens at one time and then reduced it to a flock of about 20 chickens. His philosophy was keep the run apart from the lawn. He would either let the chickens into the garden for the afternoon (us children would then use the big feather duster to get the ladies back into the run..) or he had a second run with grass, permanently. It can prove to be a tedious task to get the barren part of the chicken run to recover and alternate between the two parts, especially if it has become rock hard. Good luck!

    1. Dear Anka,

      Thanks so much for those links – really helpful. When I’ve a little more time today I’ll enjoy browsing those sites. Your grandfather’s system sounds like a very sensible one, always good to hear what other henkeepers do!

      Best wishes,

      Ruth

  2. Hi Ruth,

    I completely understand what you’re saying about them trashing the grass… we’ve gone the wood chip route see: http://hencorner.com/2012/03/09/chicken-and-chips/
    If you’re asking for recommendations, I’d go for Omlet Eglus link all the time. We started with a Classic (which was wonderful) then upgraded to the big Cube (fab for up to 10 hens) and now have the more economical Go (which we use for hatching, hotel or hospital!). The smaller ones move around a lawn quite easily and can happliy house 3 hens….

    They are easy to clean, less like to harbour mites and have a fox proof run…

    Hope this helps!

    Sara

    1. Thanks Sara, that’s wonderful advice. Good to have your help on this one. Have done a little more research so will update later in the week. Hope your brood is well!

      Ruth

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