On of the things that has really helped us in our frugal and environmental journey has been keeping chickens. They get given any kitchen scraps that we have, and in exchange we get to use the beautiful soil we create and eat the eggs.
These tips are just what has worked for us over the last 4 years. We bought our first chickens when they were just three days old and cared for them under a heat lamp in a cardboard box in the lounge room.
We’ve had many trials and tribulations but the system we have now is perfect for us.
My tips for beginner chicken keepers:
Chickens always sleep in a dark coop with a waterproof roof. They need a roost, a piece of wood or branch to perch on while sleeping, and some where to lay eggs. We built our coop out of leftovers from our house build roughly using these plans.
Chickens need an outside area to roam. In their pen we use a method call deep bedding, also called deep litter. We have adjusted it to work for us. I first heard about it here. Every couple of weeks we buy a bail of straw from the local hardware store. This straw replaces the straw that is inside their little house, in their nesting boxes and under the roost. The dirty straw gets scraped straight out and into the coop. This dirty straw then gets scratched around, has compost added to it and eventually turns into delicious soil that we can use in our garden beds.
We feed all of our compostables to our chickens, if they don’t eat it, that’s fine. Because of the method of composting and chicken cooping we use, everything just ends up decomposing and becoming that beautiful soil we’re aiming for. We also feed them two scoops of pellets a day and are lucky enough to have friends who save their scraps for our chickens.
We recently built a chicken waterer. This was one of the best things that we could have done. The water stays clean, there is nothing getting inside it and we only need to fill it every couple of days.
We feed our egg shells back to our chickens. Throughout the week we save any egg shells from the eggs we use in an old oven tray. When the tray gets full and we are using the oven we stick the tray into the oven so that the egg shells can dry out. Once dry we crush them up and add the crushed shells into their grain.
We have recently planted a fig tree in the chicken coop. The plan is that eventually this tree will grow up so big and not only provide the chickens with shade but they will also be able to snack on the fallen fruit. This however is a long way off, so this summer we will try and find some shade cloth on a local buy swap sell site and put that up so that the girls will have some shade.
Chickens love fresh greens and because we have decided not to let our chickens free range in our garden we are very cautious of making sure they get lots of fresh greens. Throughout winter we hung massive heads of silver beet upside down from the eaves of the chicken coop. This gives the chickens delicious fresh greens and a little entertainment.
We’ve fenced off two 1m rounds in the chicken coop and thrown some quick growing greens seeds in there, along with some nasturtiums. Once these seeds all grow up big and strong the chickens will be able to poke their heads in the wire and eat the fresh growing greens.
I love keeping chickens, it’s a joy each morning to go out and feed them, have a chat and collect the eggs.
I hope this has been helpful. Please let me know if you have any more questions. And comment below with your favourite chicken keeping tips.