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.
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?