Keeping Chickens…

We have been keeping laying hens for quite a few years now, they all have names and the children can tell them all apart… They are so amazing to watch… We often just sit and watch their movements around the garden , the way they scratch in the dirt for small bugs, how they sandbath in a soft sandy spot and the way they run, this is all very entertaining. After they sandbath, they are covered in damp sand and if you pick them up, they feel incredibly heavy…
This photo above is of our chickens’ housing, it is a wooden house 3 metres by 3 metres, with a verandah, we have also enclosed a small area with wire fencing for them to roam around. After they have eaten in the morning and layed their eggs, we open the door at the back of their house and they are free to move around the entire front garden. Most of the day they range free eating grass and small insects and grit. The little pebbles / grit aid with their digestion. We have planted a number of fruit trees around their enclosure to give them shade over the next few months / years. We have planted apples, a prune tree and  a Peacan Nut tree and as well as providing the chickens with shade, we will also benefit from the fruit and nuts…
This is the inside of their house with perches on the sides. Chickens really like to roost when they sleep and every afternoon around 5:30 pm they all walk into their house and find their spot on their perches, we close their door to keep them safe and warm. They all know exactly where their specific spot is and that is where they sleep every night. We also spread fresh straw over the floor to keep it clean and they also love to scratch in it.
We only have seven chooks and these are their laying baskets that are lined with straw. Every morning, after they have eaten their laying mash, they all take turns to lay their eggs in a basket. They only like to use one basket at a time, so they seem to alternate between the two but either use one or the other, never both at the same time.
We feed them laying mash everyday and into this we add additional seeds, barley, oats, mealie meal etc… We also give them ground up egg shells once a week to help with digestion and give them calcium, but we make sure that the shells have been finely crushed first so that they don’t have any ideas about eating their own eggs:) We also have a bowl in the kitchen, where we keep any leftovers that they can eat, oats porridge, scrambled egg, salad vegetables etc… All of this is really good for their diet. It is also vitally important that they have fresh water everyday. And in return we are gifted with the most beautiful free range eggs, with yolks that are golden yellow…
This is Bumbles (named by the children)…
Today we took them to the back garden where we have our compost heaps, they are scratching through our middle heap, aerating the compost and giving it a good turn over.

We all went and sat outside in our little fruit orchard to watch them while they were scratching on the compost heaps…

Wishing you all a wonderful week ahead…

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29 Responses to Keeping Chickens…

  1. Sharon January 10, 2010 at 6:48 pm #

    Wonderful to know how rewarding having hens is. I hope to get some later this year but need to learn more about feeding, housing etc. Your blog is so inspiring. x

  2. Joanne January 10, 2010 at 10:13 pm #

    Thanks for your interesting blog….it’s nice to hear how things are done and the process of what goes into it all! I will never have laying hens of my own so I found it very educational. You are an inspiration in all you do!

  3. Jill January 11, 2010 at 2:14 am #

    I LOVE chickens, Linda! I grew up with them in California, and have missed hearing their little chuck chuck chuck’s from the yard. Your hen house/coop is lovely – did you build it from a plan or create it yourself?

    Jill

  4. Jen January 11, 2010 at 5:14 am #

    Well hello Linda! I haven’t visited in too long – but I loved this post 😀 Your chickens are so well cared for and it was so interesting to read about caring for them. I can’t wait to see your fruit and nut trees grow so please post pictures in the future! Your home just sounds so lovely and it’s so nice to see such a nice family having such a wonderful life! You deserve it, my friend!
    Blessings,
    Jen (whose twins are still loving their knitted animals from you!)

  5. Dawn January 11, 2010 at 5:46 am #

    I would love to have chickens someday. Your chickens seem to have a very nice nice life, and reward you well for that!

  6. Mellie January 11, 2010 at 11:28 am #

    I LOVE this! It’s been one of my dreams to get some chicken someday soon… I love the coop you have for them.

  7. Linda January 11, 2010 at 1:25 pm #

    Sharon
    Thank you so much for your kind words:)
    Warmly
    Linda

    Joanne,
    Thanks for stopping by:)
    Warmly
    Linda

    Jill,
    It is lovely to hear from you:) The hen house was bought in pre- made sections and then they were just riveted together. We love having chickens:)
    Warmly
    Linda

    Jen,
    Thanks so very much for all your kindness, I am so happy your little ones are enjoying their knitted treasures:)
    Warmly
    Linda

    Mellie,
    Thanks so much for your comments, it was great to hear from you:)
    Warmly
    Linda

  8. Joy January 11, 2010 at 4:35 pm #

    Your chickens are so cute! It’s definitely on my list of things to do. I think my kids would love them. 🙂

  9. Heather January 11, 2010 at 4:44 pm #

    Oh I love this post! My husband and I have wanted to keep chickens for some time now, and seeing a post like this is so inspiring. What an amazing environment you have created for your chldren, and for your chickens 🙂

  10. Jeri Landers January 11, 2010 at 7:02 pm #

    I have come to love chickens ever since a mother hen appeared on my property with 13 little chickpeas. They have all grown up here and even though I new nothing about caring for chickens at the time, I have become a happy observer of chicken behavior. They are quite comical and filled with personality. And they do crow all day long!
    I enjoyed your post very much.

  11. angela January 11, 2010 at 7:33 pm #

    I love your chicken coop it is so beautiful. Thank you for sharing with any luck we will start our flock this sprig. I will keep this post for then.

  12. Linda January 11, 2010 at 8:01 pm #

    Joy,
    You will love having these wonderful creatures roaming around your garden:)
    Warmly
    Linda

    Heather,
    Thanks so much for stopping by and for your kind comments:) We bought our first little flock of chickens as day olds and we went through the whole process of caring for them and now they are adult layers:) Our children have learned so much about these wonderful animals and how to care for them. It has and continues to be a lovely experience:)
    Warmly
    Linda

    Jeri,
    Thank you so much for visiting, it must have been so wonderful to have that mommy chicken and her little ones arrive on your property, how precious:)
    Warmly
    Linda

    Angela,
    How wonderful, you are going to have chickens, they are just amazing, enjoy them:)
    Warmly
    Linda

  13. goldenbird January 11, 2010 at 8:16 pm #

    I love seeing pictures and reading all about your sweet life. It was fascinating to learn about the chickens– I know so little about them. Now I wish I could have a few! Bumbles is gorgeous …

  14. Linda January 11, 2010 at 8:38 pm #

    Hi Stacy,
    Thanks so much:) Bumbles is a sweety and our only white chicken all the others are brown…
    Warmly
    Linda

  15. K January 12, 2010 at 4:36 am #

    I had a children’s book when I was little that had a picture in it of a child collecting eggs from nests – and I remember feeling, as my mom read it to me – those eggs right in the hollow of my hands. I have loved the idea of eggs in a nest ever since. We thought about chickens this year, but we have to do it right – we live on a river full of mink and raccoons and skies full of all sorts of raptors. We’d have to have a wonderful house like yours and a run that’s netted over, and fence buried in the earth a foot or two. Maybe some day. I will never forget your shot of the chicken asleep in your daughter’s lap.

  16. Hip Mountain Mama January 12, 2010 at 6:01 am #

    I love your little chickens! How fun that you kids name them. I think our next stop in this life will be a place where we can keep chickens! Hopefully this will be soon! Thanks for sharing…I just love your photos!
    suzy

  17. farmama January 12, 2010 at 8:06 am #

    Hi Linda,
    What a pretty hen house you have! Your orchard is very pretty as well! Oh….green and summer freshness is such a lovely sight for me!
    love,
    Sara

  18. Knecht Ruprecht January 14, 2010 at 10:49 am #

    Hi,
    I just linked Your Blog in my Blogs linklist:
    http://knechtruprechtdolls.blogspot.com
    and wanted to make sure if this is ok for You?
    Thank You very much,
    Marie

  19. Linda January 14, 2010 at 11:47 am #

    Hello Marie,
    Thank you so much for linking to my blog, that is wonderful:) I will link to yours as well, you make the most beautiful dolls.
    Warmly
    Linda

  20. Kelly January 14, 2010 at 12:50 pm #

    Hi Linda
    I have just been reading your post to the boys. They have always been eager to keep chickens but we are waiting for now. We all loved your post! Have a lovely warm day under that sun!

  21. Linda January 14, 2010 at 7:01 pm #

    Hello Kelly,
    Thanks so much for stopping by, it is always wonderful to hear from you:) I am so glad you enjoyed the post.
    Warmly
    Linda

  22. Lala's Pequenos January 15, 2010 at 3:46 pm #

    Wonderful post! We too have hens and they were so entertaining to watch that we moved their coop in front of the window where I can enjoy their shenanigans while I work!
    -Alessandra

  23. mommychick.com January 19, 2010 at 10:17 am #

    Thank you, this is very inspiring. I’d love to have fresh eggs, too:-)

  24. Donna Ashton January 22, 2010 at 1:33 am #

    I love the pictures and info on the chickens..we are so hoping to be moved by spring, so we too can enjoy this pastime! Love your blog!

  25. Claire Haycock August 8, 2010 at 1:02 pm #

    Such a wonderful way for children to grow up. I have just started with some guinea fowl, you can eat their eggs (so I am told)

  26. OhhoandBiGGs family September 28, 2010 at 4:52 am #

    ohh..is this the chiken coop? It’s look a like the hut for the people get into relaxed.
    In Thailand ,somebody make it is resort.

  27. peaces April 27, 2011 at 2:28 pm #

    Hi~~>Great!!
    We are new to chicken raising for eggs. We have Six Girls and boy are they growing leaps and bounds! They will be 4 weeks old tomorrow and all have feathered-out nicely but one….would you know why?

    They are all the same age and from the same batch [sort-to-speak] but the girl that has not matured at the same rate, is ‘picked’ on….what to do?

    Also, do we start NOW to feed them something called scratch?

    Thank you for helping us to be good parents to our girls! hehee

    Kim and Dan 🙂

  28. Charline August 2, 2011 at 7:20 pm #

    I also have chickens and love watching them!!! It’s great entertainment! Mine dearly love their black oil sunflower seeds! I give them laying mash of course and scratch feed, and they get to free range and keep down the population of mosquitoes and flies and other “bugs”! My girls are so spoiled! One, “Red”, pecks my leg to get me to pick her up! I love the fresh eggs and can’t imagine having to go purchase ‘store bought’ ever again!!!
    Thanks for the lovely pics! Charline
    http://charsbackporch.wordpress.com/

  29. Linda August 3, 2011 at 8:41 am #

    Dear Kim,
    Chickens are wonderful:) Sometimes there is just one that seems a little smaller than the rest, we have that too with our chickens. Then before you know it, they have a growth spurt and they appear bigger. We start feeding laying mash from about 12 weeks, I’m not sure if this is the same as scratch.
    Warmly
    Linda

    Dear Charlene,
    Thank you for your lovely messages:)
    xo
    Linda

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