Once we settled in here in Oregon, we started thinking about chickens again. There's just nothing as good as fresh eggs from your own hens! We did wait a while, since I was vastly pregnant most of last fall/winter/spring, and I didn't want baby chicks to be forgotten when baby came.
But we bought 6 new chicks at the end of April, and they are close to laying eggs!
We thought for a long time about having a chicken tractor, since we have so much gorgeous grass for chickens to live on. That is still the long-term plan, but for now, we are making do with what we have: an old woodshed in the backyard.
My husband got pretty excited about this building project and closed in half of the woodshed for the chickens. He wanted it to be easy to access and clean, so he built a full-size door on the left, and a nesting box with hinged roof/lid on the right. The next phase of the plan is a door in the left-hand wall that will go out to a large fenced area for the chickens to roam. We like the idea of totally free-range chickens, but there are so many predators in our very rural area, that it doesn't seem like a good idea here.
The chickens have a 2-story house, with this little ramp leading up to the top (they usually just fly up, but it's cute, isn't it?) Side note: does anyone have good ideas for keeping chickens from kicking litter into their water?
These are the new girls: 2 black sex link, 2 yellow sex link, and two Americauna.
The next step, once the outdoor area is built, is figuring out whether/how to clip their wings so we don't have to build a roof over the whole enclosure (the only threat from above here is turkey vultures, which apparently only eat dead things...hopefully we won't have that problem!)
Our chicken-keeping is very much a work in progress. Ideally, I'd love the chickens to be out on grass in the sunshine all the time (not that there's much alive on the ground during the summer here), and be able to eat all the grass, bugs, and worms they want. But I think our chickens are still happier and healthier than the average factory-farmed hen. We are moving in the right direction.
What do you think is the most important factor in raising chickens for healthy eggs? If you have chickens, what kind of housing do you have for them, and what do they eat?
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