Category Archives: Chickens

Chicken feeder

The shop-bought feeder we have for the chickens is fine, but not perfect. It’s an attraction for rats, which come from next door (they climb through the chicken wire). We’ve hung the feeder and put a shroud around it to confound the rats, but they’re not particularly confounded. The feeder is also short-term, lasting 4 or 5 days before needing a refill.

There’s been a long-standing plan to make a higher-capacity feeder, but it was never really necessary so wasn’t on the priority list. We’re going on a holiday later in the year, though, so we thought we’d get it sorted out and make life easy on whoever ends up looking after the chickens.

It turned out to be unreasonably easy. We used a piece of 100mm PVC pipe as the main chamber, with a pop-on pop-off lid. The feeder part is just a 100mm PVC T-junction with the bottom half of the tee-bit sawn off. The screw-on cap on one end of the tee makes for a convenient emptying thingy if we need to empty it.

To stop the feed just pouring out the hole, another 50mm piece of PVC is set up inside, with the bottom just above the level of the bottom of the tee bit. It’s attached by putting a 100mm to 50mm reducer inside the tee piece and gluing a short length of 50mm tube to it. Then a coupling is used to connect the feeder bit to the main chamber. Two hanging strap clamps screwed to the side of the coop keep it in place.

Shopping trips aside, it only took an hour or so to make, with a bit of time spent getting the length of 50mm tube inside perfect so that the level of the feed inside was as high as it could be without any falling out.

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Too easy! Should have done it ages ago!

More bulbs

The great bulb planting exercise continues; a border next to the chicken run would also make things look a little nicer over there.

Can be a bit hard when the chicken decides to take a bath in the spot where you want to plant them, though.

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C’mon Popples, givusabreak love!

We also put bulbs by the meadow steps and in strategic locations around the meadow.

Free ranging

The new chickens have been around long enough now to know where their home is, and the passionfruit have grown tall enough so that the chickens can’t kill them completely, so it’s time to let them out of the run.

Popples goes off by herself; the others are still a bit young and always hang together.

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Eggs!

One year, two months and 11 days after first rigging up the chicken run, we have an egg.

Other people buy ready-made coops off the internet and chickens that are laying already. They’re probably more clever.

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Frame goes up 2nd Jan 2014.
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Chicken lays egg 11 Mar 2015

Wish we knew which chicken is responsible so that we can give her a big high five.

Update: definitely Popples. Caught her going nuts while the other three chickens stood around looking confused.

The Young and the Eggless

OK, so let’s just ramp up the drama another notch. You wouldn’t think there’d be more notches, but there are always more notches.

Since Dynamite died, we’ve planned to get another chicken as a replacement. But the other two black ones were a bit suspect. Those hackles were very pointy. Those wattles very red. That comb quite luxuriant. We waited to see. The guy who gave us to them assured us they were pullets. They were from a different bloodline; that’s why they didn’t look like the grey one.

Last week Silvie turned out to be Silvio when he awoke the neighbourhood with his scratchy sounds-like-a-small-child-being-strangled cry. This morning, Silvio’s cry was added to, just a bit, by a second voice from White Streak.

Can’t say I was too surprised. They’ve been developing some nice colour in their tails, and little ochre splotches on their sides. This is not girl-chicken style showiness.

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No mucking around this time. We went off to the professionals and got three new ones. The Australorps they had were all a little small, and we didn’t want Popples getting too overbearing with them, so we got 2 Sussex (one Light, one Coronation), and one black Australorps.

R has already named the Light Sussex “Fern”.

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The black Australorps shall henceforth be known as “Foxy”, since she’s so quick and nimble and can’t be caught.

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We’ll see what S comes up with for the Coronation.

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Oh, and a chicken post wouldn’t be a chicken post without a couple of snaps of Popples, who has proven herself a stayer and a keeper.

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The fellow at Abundant Layers was very understanding of our story, and offered to re-home the two cockerels.

Encouragement

These chickens.

They’re very outdoorsy sort of animals. They’d much prefer to sleep outside, on a stick, in the rain, than go into their nice coop. In a bid to encourage them in, their favourite stick was taken away, the big wood blocks re-arranged, a ramp constructed out of waste wood, and the run-facing end wall of the coop taken away. The food dish was put inside the coop and the old water thingy put in there as well.

Tried plonking one of them onto the curtain-rail roosts in there to see how they like it, but it seemed a bit slippery and smooth, so the lowest one was wrapped in wire to give a bit of holding power.

Hopefully they’ll start thinking of the coop as a nice place to go. We’d like our eggs to appear in the nesting boxes, if we can, thanks ladies.

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Dead chicken

It turns out Dynamite was not so dynamite. Dynamite was unhappy, or sick, or something, and just up and died without warning some time on Wednesday. Checked her for signs of trauma, but there was nothing.

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Here she is the previous evening, looking all rested and content.

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RIP Dynamite.

 

Climbers

The idea with the chicken run is that it’s covered in green leaves, providing a nice shady arbor for the chickens to live under. We’ve noticed that when it’s hot they prefer to go down to the bottom of the run, where the tall grasses and the orange tree provide some shade, rather than going into or under the coop.

We have Happy Wanderer and passionfruit on the west-facing side. The Happy Wanderer found the wire a few weeks back, and is now powering up the face. Two out of the five passionfruit have just found the wire and latched on.

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The kaffir lime has got some new leaves after being shredded by hail back in September. At the top of the rise here, next to the coop, jalapeño chillies.

Now that we’ve got some plants, we’re also mulching this summer to keep the moisture in over the hot months of January and February.

New chickens

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We swapped our three boys for three girls. The breeder didn’t have any of the blue, so we have black ones. After a few days in the run they’re starting to settle down, and Popples is starting to socialise a bit more. She was lonely there for a while.

These chickens aren’t laying yet, but they’re not crowing either. They’re clearly a bit older than Popples, so maybe we’ll get eggs in a couple of weeks.

Rotten luck

This week we were woken by a strange sound. An odd cry, sounding a bit like a child. But it wasn’t a child, it was Captain Cluckwash, chief chicken of the run.

Oh no, the Captain is a boy.

Then, a couple of days later, more cries. Going down to investigate, there they were, three of them, singing hello to the new day. Singing in that strangled, just learning how to crow kind of way.

Oh no, three out of four are boys.

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That’s not going to wash, so these guys are going to have to go. The breeder has agreed to take them back, so we’re off today to swap them for girls.

Goodbye Captain Cluckwash.

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Goodbye Sefuffle (or should we say Sir Fuffle).

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Goodbye Flashy (or should we say Flash Gordon).

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We’ve had our suspicions for a few weeks. Once the comb and wattles come in they look very different from Popples, the only true girl of the bunch:

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