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 Post subject: Building a chook garden
PostPosted: Fri Jul 05, 2013 1:33 pm 
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Proud Rooster
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Location: Wee Waa, North West NSW
I have started to build a chook garden for my girls.
My aim is to provide somewhere for them to forage, rest, exercise and basically stay away from other gardens in the yard. :-x
I have mulched an area close to their coop and run where there is plenty of shade trees, shrubs for hiding, dirt patches for bathing, small structures for shelter from elements and a few large herbs for them to peck and eat (rosemary, mint, nasturtium)
My next step is to build some small veg beds that I will mesh and plant out with things that they like to eat and are beneficial to their health. I will rotate the mesh on the beds to allow for turning soil, growing veg and then eating (kale, comfrey, cabbage, spinach)
The girls seem to really enjoy hanging out there and so far have been staying away from other areas in the yard.
Does anyone have any other ideas of what could go in a chook garden that they would like to contribute to this thread.
I am open to all suggestions and it may be useful for other members who have a chook garden or are thinking of starting one.
We all know that a happy chook is a healthy chook! :smile blink
Cheers
floss
:peece


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 05, 2013 2:03 pm 
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That sounds great Floss :peece your chooks will be so spoilt!

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PostPosted: Fri Jul 05, 2013 2:10 pm 
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Clever Cockerel
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That sounds like a really nice area, and it's no surprise at all that they like it (I AM surprised they leave the rest of your garden alone, if you don't actually have it fenced off).

My girls LOVE digging through the compost heap, so maybe a couple of blocks of straw somewhere that they can scratch about and spread around? Kale was a HUGE hit with them. They also liked silverbeet. Everything we planted for them was decimated within just a couple of days - we really should have a frame and netting over it so they can only eat what actually grows through.

Green Harvest has a good Clucka Tucka mix that grows really quickly and was very popular with our girls too. I plan to get another bag of it and cover 2 beds in the next month or two.

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PostPosted: Fri Jul 05, 2013 2:33 pm 
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Proud Rooster
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Location: Wee Waa, North West NSW
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That sounds great Floss :peece your chooks will be so spoilt!

Thanks Redjohanna.
They are pretty spoilt, but then again they do spoil us with lots of yummy eggs! :bg

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(I AM surprised they leave the rest of your garden alone, if you don't actually have it fenced off).

I think it is because the rest of the yard is quite exposed and we have had heaps of hawks circling lately. I do sometimes see them wandering towards the veg patch which is some distance from their area, only to get spooked by hawks or the next door neighbours dog that can see them through the fence in that spot. They then hitch their skirts and run like hell back to their garden. :laughing Give them a chance though, I'm sure they'll work something out! ;-)

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My girls LOVE digging through the compost heap, so maybe a couple of blocks of straw somewhere that they can scratch about and spread around?

Will definitely do this. They have already turned over mulch that I had spread there a couple of weeks ago. Good idea!

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Green Harvest has a good Clucka Tucka mix that grows really quickly and was very popular with our girls too.

I have been meaning to get some of this. Looks great! Will add to my spring order, which I probably need to do very soon considering this beautiful weather we have been getting.

I also thought of building a couple of roosting posts. The shrubs are to bushy for this and the trees are very tall with no low branches. I have a couple already in their run which they like to sit on when they can't get out for free ranging.

:th
Regards
Floss


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 05, 2013 5:11 pm 
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Old Mother Goose
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Some ideas that I've either tried myself or have seen posted in BYP by others...

If space permits, a few large branches that they can climb under & over acts like playground equipment as well as a great place for hide & seek.

Hanging CDs on a piece of string can provide something of interest to peck at.

Hanging foods up for them seems to be popular... cabbage seems to be the most often cited (my lot show no interest in food hung up... I'm coming to the conclusion that it's because they have plenty of greens that are more easily accessed by them).

Tomatoes, gooseberries, capsicum are a few other things that I've noticed my chooks and/or chooks of other flocks are very taken by.

If you have some cover for insects, arachnids & invertebrates... such as a few bricks or rocks... then they'll get the odd one that escapes cover... the closer to the side of their pen/run for this the better... and you can roll them over periodically to allow the hens to play hunter !

Your hens sound like they're onto a VERY good thing.... and I love that you see it as a fair trade for their eggs. :yess


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 05, 2013 6:34 pm 
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For the old english game birds I have set up an old wooden ladder to climb up to a 'viewing platform' where they can see over the top of the bushes and plants outside their pen. From there they can fly up onto a swing (a branch attached by occy straps to the roof) so they have to flap a bit to exercise and keep their balance.

As Winglet says, branches are good to climb over and perch on, especially in a sunny morning spot to help to warm up on cold winter mornings.

Wish I was a chook at your place :biggrin:

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PostPosted: Fri Jul 05, 2013 8:16 pm 
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Proud Rooster
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Location: Wee Waa, North West NSW
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Hanging CDs on a piece of string can provide something of interest to peck at.

Great idea! I'm thinking I might use some sparkly wind chimes.

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If you have some cover for insects, arachnids & invertebrates... such as a few bricks or rocks... then they'll get the odd one that escapes cover... the closer to the side of their pen/run for this the better... and you can roll them over periodically to allow the hens to play hunter !

Also love this. Will also add some large logs that will eventually decompose and rot, which usually attracts some yummy bugs!

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Hanging foods up for them seems to be popular... cabbage seems to be the most often cited (my lot show no interest in food hung up... I'm coming to the conclusion that it's because they have plenty of greens that are more easily accessed by them).

Yes. Also tried this with same result. "Why the hell would we want to jump for that lady when we already have all of this great food at our wing tips". :shock:

Redjohanna, it sounds like your hens are also VERY well looked after, with ladders and swings and viewing platforms. Sounds amazing!

cheers
Floss
:bg


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 05, 2013 8:42 pm 
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Champion Bird
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Chickens and fruit trees do well together. The trees provide shade and fallen fruit for the chooks and in return they fertilise it.
Mulberry, plum, apple, apricot would be ideal. Or a grapevine or passionfruit.
Whatever you plant, protect the roots with some old pavers or rocks to stop it from being scratched from the ground.
Plant Lavender, Wormwood and Pyrethrum and throw some prunings in the nest boxes to deter lice and mites.


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 05, 2013 9:48 pm 
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Golden Kingfisher
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My chooks love chickweed. It self-seeds and grows back every year and is a good winter crop.

Floss, your place sounds like chook paradise.

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PostPosted: Fri Jul 05, 2013 10:09 pm 
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Old Mother Goose
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70%cocoa's post reminds me...

My lot LOVE broad leafed weeds of any persuasion. The backyard, where they free range daily, is completely devoid of broad leafed weeds... plenty of blade grass which they also eat lots of.

For that reason, we never weed the front grassed area, and let the weeds grow as they please, as long as they can survive the occasional running over with the lawnmower. We periodically let the hens out the front to graze, which decimates the weeds again !

Springtime visits out the front see them head for dandelions & clover first (although I don't see clover as a weed, as I rather like it), and then attack any other weeds they can get to.

They also do an excellent job of kicking any overgrown / dried stuff from along the edging, where grass meets concrete edging for the beds near the garden.... as they hunt for various yummy critters.


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PostPosted: Sat Jul 06, 2013 9:36 am 
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Wise One
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Floss I agree with the others. Your chook area sounds fantastic. Makes me enthusiastic to upgrade mine!

One thing that I have in my chicken run is an old camping table. It provides the girls with something to jump up on or to rest underneath out of the rain or sun. I put a bowl of food and a bowl of water on it each day, which is great to provide them with something that my greedy water dirtying ducks can't get to. The chooks love it. I often find one or two sitting along one edge snoozing.


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PostPosted: Sat Jul 06, 2013 2:04 pm 
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Proud Rooster
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Location: Wee Waa, North West NSW
Hi all :hiya:

There is quite a large shrub in the centre of the garden, not sure what it is but it's approx. 4 mtrs tall x 3 mtrs wide. This is where they mostly hang. I had a look under there this morning and it's perfect. They were all in there rolling around in dirt baths, there is a lot of leaf litter for them to scratch through, branches are low enough for safe cover and shade but high enough for sun to filter through in a few areas where a couple of girls were sunbathing.
I am going to hang some water containers in there and this should create the perfect micro-climate for summer. I haven't had to deal with chooks and summer yet and ours can be quite severe.

Now I'm off to find some largish rocks to place around the plants. Thanks for the tip Artemis. Will also add lavender, wormwood & pyrethrum to shopping list.

I will have to get some photos and upload when I have finished.
Would love others to do the same.

Cheers
Floss
:bg


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