I’ve been keeping Chickens in the Garden for nigh on 15 years now, they have a large Pen but whenever possible and I’m outside to keep an eye on things they free range.
During this recent ghastly weather of rain and wind I’m sure that most Hen Keepers are finding the same as me..
1. Walking up to the Coop is a danger within itself, the well trodden pathway accross the Lawn has become an Arena which would not go a miss for Skaters at the forthcoming Winter Olympics!
2. Every Bowl is usually clogged.
3. The floor of the Coop is also slippery and reaching over to retrieve an Egg is an art form.
4. The Run itself is just impassible, one step and you’re down for sure. I attempted it today, made two steps and gave up!
Well, that’s our problems out the way, what about the Chickens themselves, do they enjoy it?
The fact I rarely see them strolling through the mud tells me they don’t. They’d much rather hang around in their Coop or the attached ‘Restaurant Area’ I have (another small three sided Shed.
Luckily as I said earlier, if I’m home they’re allowed out and feel the grass beneath their feet. They’re not that interested in the grass though, only what’s underneath it!
To deter this I’ve been doubling the free ranging with digging, that keeps them busy. Also, if you have a Lawn surrounded by Hedge, they’d much rather scrape away in there although for some unknown reason they like scraping on to grass side, so a Rake is a pretty handy Tool to have around!
If you haven’t sufficient space for them to have a wander round, a good thing is to have something to relieve their boredom.
I’ve never done so but many say hanging a whole Cabbage down from their roof allowing it to be about 12″ to 15″ above the ground helps.
They don’t eat it all in one go, just the occasional peck and it’s good enough for them.
What I do is to simply dig up a large turf and put into their sheltered part, it’ll keep them busy for a while anyway.
Without grass or ground below hedge for them to search for tasty worms or insects, they’re going to be pretty cheesed off, so it’s well worth giving them a few extra treats now and again.
We have to remember their natural habitat is more jungle or high grassland and we don’t want to deprive them too much of that.
They’ll get by through the weather, a darned sight better than we will, but keep an eye on them. Spring will soon be here (although it’ll probably rain everyday then!!).
I’ll be buying them a SAD Lamp soon!!
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