This post is for another blogger who is thinking of changing her chicken enclosure. Just for those who worry; my dogs are all doing great! I haven't given up the shelties for the chickens just yet.
Our chickens have just become part of our family. They are just as naughty as my dogs and regularly escape and mix among the shelties. I have done many a running dog-walk session with Yay with chickens pecking around under the dog-walk.
The design of chicken-topia has fluidly changed as we add more chickens and learn more about how to keep them (and us) happy. I am sure there will be more changes as we go on but we are happy with the set up now. It is easy to collect the eggs and to keep clean. The chickens have a very safe enclosure for at night and for when we go away for a day or a night. What I like about this space is that it is fully covered so it does not get so muddy and wet. If we go away the chickens are safe for a day or two as they have access to food, water and can get in and out of their coop. When we are home they have a larger enclosed area to scratch around, find bugs and make dust baths. Lately the naughty hens are escaping into the main garden. I don't mind this but, of course, this is when they are most vulnerable to predators.
This is the entire chicken "paddock" with the secure enclosure in the back.
This is the chicken enclosure. It is approx. 5m x 3m and houses their plastic coop and plastic nesting boxes. It has both sun and shade and we also planted two shrubs in the corners.
During the day when we are home they have access to this large paddock. We also leave the greenhouse open in the winter so they rummage around in there when it is really wet out.
The interior of their safe run. Everything is plastic as I worry about mites. I wanted to buy one of the fancy plastic coops but they were so expensive! Instead we converted this garden box and it has worked really well. The chickens sleep in the converted garden shed and they lay their eggs in the 3 plastic nesting boxes outside. I need to add another nesting box as they sometimes queue up to get in and start loudly complaining if one chicken takes too long! They are so funny.
The enclosed run is made with very heavy duty (expensive!) wire. The original chicken wire was not as strong but was dug into the ground, so we left it and added the stronger wire fencing in front of it. The new wire fencing is bent out at the bottom like an apron for about 6 inches. This prevents the fox from digging under it. The fence is very high but to be extra secure we added a roof. Theoretically the enclosed run is 100% fox proof but it is still a worry.
When we did the extension on our house we had a trench dug to bring water and electric out to the chicken paddock. This makes taking care of the chickens so much easier and gives us lights when checking on the chickens at night.
So we do our best for our girls and they reward us with gorgeous eggs and lots of laughs. I still cannot believe how much fun they are even with all the work involved.