Laura Sweany wrote:We've lived with chickens in Seattle and surrounding suburbs for 20+ years now, and one of the best innovations I've tried with the hens is using an old dog run as a chicken tractor. The neighbor who lets us garden in her sunny back yard just happened to have a very old chain-link dog kennel sitting around. We salvaged an old canopy tarp from another neighbor's trash can, and covered one end (using bungee cords) to make a windbreak and rain shield. Then we took a bamboo branch and strung in horizontally about 2.5' up from the ground within the covered end to make a chicken roost. You don't need to worry about creating an enclosed chicken house; our climate is so mild the chickens will do fine with just one end covered. String some chicken wire or fencing over the top, though - raccoons will climb up and over and take your precious hens if you don't! I'm posting a photo of ours; hope you can see what I've done.
Once the chickens have plucked the weeds and scratched to the bare soil, I move the "tractor" to the next patch and use a broadfork to loosen the soil down to 1', and then either cover with mulch and let it rest, or plant into it. The width of my beds are dictated by the width of the kennel. The general rule of thumb is 2 sq. ft per chicken, which can be fudged it you're letting many chickens use the whole area. I have 3 hens and one rabbit (in her own cage on the ground) in this kennel and it feels HUGE! Could easily contain another 3-5 chickens. If you suspended the rabbit cages from the chain link, you could put several cages within the kennel and not sacrifice any floor space for the chickens - plus then the chickens would scratch in the extra rabbit food and pellets. Makes it easier to feed the rabbits if they're eye level, too.
I keep both the rabbit and chicken foods in a metal garbage can just outside the entrance. Very important to use metal to avoid vermin problems - plus, we only feed once per day, in the morning. No extra food laying around to attract unwanted guests.
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