An Introduction to Working Chickens

| 12/1/2016 12:53:00 PM

Tags: Chickens, Flock Management, Haven Homestead, Lindsay Hodge, Washington State, Southwest Washington, Pacific Northwest,


We've put our chickens to work...

When it comes to keeping chickens, you'll hear all about how they eat things they aren't supposed to and that they poop a lot! It's true, and it can be very frustrating. Here at Haven Homestead, we’ve experienced several iterations of chicken habitat and systems. We’ve learned a lot of lessons from each period. The main lesson we have learned is that you need to put your chickens to work!

During our free-range period, we learned that chickens will roost and poop wherever the heck they want to. It makes a huge mess. I had to fence off my front porch at one point so that they would stop pooping in my shoes! They also have favorite plants, and they will eat them into nothing-ness. Our one and only blueberry plant (at the time) was picked clean almost as soon as it leafed out, but they wouldn’t touch the dang ferns and blackberries that abound in our wee forest.

During our chicken-tractor days, we learned that they will roost in (and poop in) the nesting boxes. That required almost daily cleaning of the nesting boxes. Plus, we had too many birds in that tractor, so it needed to be moved twice a day. That was a lot of work, and a lot of money spent on nesting material. The work we put into the tractor did not equal the amount of work we got out of our chickens. 

The hens needed to be put to work, or else we were going to be worked to the bone. In the past two and a half years, we have tried about four different housing and run methods, including free ranging. We are still experimenting and growing.

mother earth news fair 2018 schedule


Next: April 28-29, 2018
Asheville, NC

Sit in on dozens of practical workshops from the leading authorities on modern homesteading, animal husbandry, gardening, real food and more!