Brad Sondahl's Chickens
I've mostly had hens for the last 20 years or so.  I don't go overboard.  I think each chicken can eat about as much as a person, so feeding a lot of them can be expensive.  I do raise them anticipating eggs, but we usually rely on them to die of natural causes, and after a few years their egg laying goes down.  To my mind, they are an important component of a home composting system, besides being nice pets.

Anyway, in March, 2005, I got 6 chicks. (the last year's hens died from varmints and old age).

Here they were, in their first chosen home, the pie plate that was supposed to hold their feed.
From left to right, Two barred rocks, two Rhode Island Reds, and two (one visible) Buff Orpingtons.
Because of the varmint problem (I've seen a least weasel right where the chickens are, and one time a bobcat was seen killing some), I rethought their cage with security as the first consideration.

The cage I built looks like this:

This came first: A nursery, turning into a nesting box and roosting area. Both windows swing open, and when the front window is open, the tray under the roosting dowels can be pulled out for dumping.

At the time I'm writing this, the chicks have seen the exit to their outside area, but only one went down, got lonely, and couldn't figure out how to get back to the group.

Here's the outside area, to the left of the roosting area shown above:

It's designed to walk in for cleaning.  There's a sort of stair steps of dowels for the chickens to get up into their roosting area. The whole thing is secured with 1/2 inch hardware cloth, and bricks under the bottom.  Something could dig in with a lot of effort...

Here's how the chicks look at a little over 2 weeks:

They can fly up to the roosts a bit.  They've moved to the nesting box, where they look out at the world through the window.

At about two months, the chickens that used to fit in the pie pan in the picture now each fill the pan separately.  The one in the foreground, nicknamed Big Buffy, is the biggest, but always follows the little black and white one (in the right corner) who is the lead hen.  The stairway to their roost took some modifying to get them to use it, adding flat stair steps. Even then they wouldn't leave the roost until some chick feed was sprinkled on the steps.  Before that, if one of them ventured out into the enclosure on its own, it would cheep piteously until I'd help it get back into the roost with the others.  Now they often perch on the steps in the daytime, and always go into the roost at night.  We're using grass clippings for bedding in the cage, since they soon peck  bare the existing foliage.

to Brad's main index
to Brad's garden index
Send comments to brad2@sondahl.com