Moving the chickens

About a fortnight after I probably should have shifted them onto new ground, I finally got round to moving the chooks and their Eglu and Cube yesterday.

Spot the difference between old and new! 25 November 2008

Spot the difference between old and new! 25 November 2008

It’s harder than you might think. At mum’s, the hen house was attached to the side of her old aviaries which meant that they could come and and out of the house as they pleased but at night were restricted to a fully enclosed concrete run measuring about 15′ x 12′. So, whenever we rotated them onto fresh ground, they had to stay in the run until we were done. As this was a simple matter of opening one gate and closing another, it took a matter of seconds.

Moved the chooks, now got to move the houses - 25 November 2008

Moved the chooks, now got to move the houses - 25 November 2008

Now, however, they’re in an orchard, enclosed in a run using 50m of electric netting. Readjusting the run by a few feet is simple – you just pull up the stakes and put them down somewhere new. But a full scale move means distracting the chickens long enough to pull up the majority of the stakes and netting and move them to roughly where you want to go (making you you don’t wrap yourself around immovable objects like ancient apple trees), make sure they can’t get out and then shoo them towards the new grass. you then get a second window to move the bits of netting that haven’t yet been moved and to untangle the inevitable knots and chaos. When it’s set up nice and tight, move the Cube and Eglu to their new sites (if you’re smart, you will have put the end stakes somewhere handy so you can open and close the “gate”. If not, you’ve got to lift up the netting so they can go under it!), replace the roof, litter trays, water bowls, feeders etc and remember to open the doors if you closed them to stop the chickens “helping” as you shifted it back and forwards to just the right place.

All done! 25 November 2008

All done! 25 November 2008

It gets a little bit more complicated if you have a hen and chicks as they need somewhere safe to go while you move them about. Luckily, the move seems to have put the second Silkie off her sitting duties (helped by the fact that her egg ended up in the run and was stone cold by the time I found it) so I decided to move Mother Hen and chicks from the old wooden ark to the Eglu. This made their move very easy – I scooped up two of the chicks and carried them over, hoping the cats weren’t in earshot, then went back for Mother Hen and the remaining two. She was furious and has decided to make her point by making their nest right in the doorway…

What a silly place to make a nest! 25 November 2008

What a silly place to make a nest! 25 November 2008

Doesn't the proper nest look warm and cosy? Daft chicken! 25 November 2008

Doesn't the proper nest look warm and cosy? Daft chicken! 25 November 2008

Still, at least the chicks will be nice and toasty as they nestle right underneath her. So much so, that you have to be careful when you pick her up as at least one will plop back down to the ground after a few seconds of being in mid air!

The remaining three eggs didn’t hatch, which I’m quite pleased about, really, as four seems like the right number going into winter. And she’s such a good mum, showing them how to peck away at the bread I gave her as well as eating the grass!

The whole thing took a lot longer than I thought so I left the farm a bit later than anticipated. Which was fine, as for once I got to enjoy sunset from terra firma instead of behind the wheel of the car:

Sunset at the farm - 25 November 2008

Sunset at the farm - 25 November 2008

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6 responses to this post.

  1. Oh joy…we are going to be doing this and moving the netting today or tomorrow…..

    Its all good fun, isn’t it! ;-))

  2. They’re ungrateful sods, that’s the problem. At least the pigs have the decency to appreciate their new grazing spots. The chickens just squark and fuss because they’ve got to figure out where the water hoppers have been moved to!

    I added a couple of branches to their run today, which the bantams are enjoying.

  3. I now have the extra bonus of the Rhode Rock girls, Babs and Goldie, now wanting to be in Cluckingham Palace with all the other hens at night BUT wanting to lay eggs inside the Broody Ark nest box, where they first lived when they were being bullied……………

    so I have a merry dance opening and shutting dooors to various runs for them all….

    Arrrrrrrrrrrgggggggggghhhhhhhhhhhhh !!!

    They KNOW they are playing with us , you know…….and they laugh at us when they are away from us……

    and I now have hens coming in through the cat flaps………..thats worrying…..I feel like Tippi Hendren in “The Birds”…………..

  4. I wish I could let ours meander around the way you do, they’d love it. Unfortunately, both dogs are confirmed chicken killers and though I think I could probably call Snipe off if I saw it in time, Midge, being a Jack Russell, wouldn’t give me the chance. John Wayne, the Pekin Bantam, spent most off the summer sans his glorious tail feathers thanks to a near miss with her…

    Cap’n Flint, the Lavender Bantam, is spending his days sitting on top of the Eglu run, staring forlornly at “his” house which he’s now banished from. The poor guy gets picked on by everybody and it was his secret place to snuggle up with “his” girlfriend, the second Silkie. Trouble is, her separation from him when she was broody has caused a few problems as absence did not make her heart grow fonder.

    No wonder they had such good material for the Chicken Run film. You could write a soap opera about the trials and tribulations of being a chicken!

  5. We have trouble with the cats…Sid is continually chasing them and is quite capable of hurting or killing one, especially the chicks…although Sweetie HAS gone for him a few times so he is a bit more careful now….

    Kitty would easily kill them, he has had full grown Cock and hen pheasants in the not to didtant past BUT he is now totally deaf so has given up hunting.

  6. Our cats were ok with the chooks when we were at mum’s. Queenie ignored them completely and we got the boys as kittens so they grew up being a bit scared of things with big beaks. When they began hunting, they eyed the chickens up but being chased a few times put them right off! The chicks, however, were a different question but we kept them in their ark until they were old enough to know to run for cover and their “mum” was a buff hen who didn’t hold back if there was a threat to her babies!

    The cats at the farm haven’t shown any interest in the chickens, but that could have something to do with the electric netting!

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