So, I’ve got chickens. I’ve raised egg laying chickens for more than a dozen years but I’m finding it to be a bit of a challenge here in suburbia. Mostly because the chickens are refusing to follow directions. See, we have little in the way of predators, so unlike some of you, I don’t need a coop as solid as Fort Knox.
I’ve been letting them roam free around here and they’re doing a fine job of keeping down the slugs (slug eggs? Like chicken caviar!) and bugs. But these chickens, they have a mind of their own. They’ve snubbed my suggested nesting boxes and made their own comfy spot to lay. They insist on scratching in my garden area, tilling up seedlings and making me crazy. And now they’re venturing into the neighbors’ yards.
I needed a way to contain them without building a big, expensive coop, something I could put together quickly and before my neighbors start giving me stink eye. I like the idea of a chicken tractor, so I can keep them contained and yet offer fresh grass. Necessity, meet invention:
Tacky? Absolutely! But it took me, alone, less than an hour to implement this plan.
This patio table has been sitting here, idle, for nearly a year because we have nowhere to put it (I’ve mentioned the steep aspect of our yard, yes?). With some chicken “wire” we had on hand and a few zip ties*, I managed to convert the underside of the table into a portable chicken pen. It’s a little smaller than I’d like for four chickens, but what I’ve found is that when chickens are restrained from roaming for several weeks, they’ll stick close to home for awhile once they’re allowed to free range. We’ll consider this their “retraining” phase, after which they’ll be allowed to free range as much as possible. This allows me to rein them in when they start getting too friendly with the neighbors.
*Zip ties and plastic chicken netting. I know. The netting we had on hand, so I felt like recycling it was a good option. I toyed with using string to tie on the netting, but knew it wouldn’t be nearly as strong or long lasting as the zip ties. I’ll placate myself with the fact that since I’m raising my own eggs, I won’t be using and throwing away an egg carton each week.