Come Home To Roost

As some of you may know, we pasture our animals in portable, secure structures that grassfed industry types call ‘tractors’.  They keep our animals on fresh grass daily, allowing them a clean and natural living environment that supplements their diets with a salad bar (bacon sprinkles being bugs with this analogy) and keeps (the many) predators from turning our critters into an All You Can Eat Buffet.  It also stops them from using my children’s swing set as an interactive toilet, depositing their waste on my front doorstep (a time honoured favourite) and destroying my garden.  Last year four hens decimated my one hundred freshly planted strawberry plants in one afternoon.

Our first year having layers, we kept them in our small barn and let them out into a static yard, with permanent fencing.  Quickly we learned that regular fencing is simply a suggestion to chickens, who even with clipped wings, will just flap harder, and opt to roost ten, twelve feet off the ground.  Since they turned their lush grass yard into a dust bowl within a matter of weeks, they also chose to clear the fence, to eat the green grass on the other side.

We then moved to the small portable chicken tractor, designs of which are innumerable via Google, and it housed half a dozen birds easily and happily.  Our grass was greener, the chickens were happier, nobody had to open their front door and step into a fresh pile of shit.

We’ve increased our number of laying hens, and required a bigger coop at home.  We had a variety of structures to chose from, and converting my garden shed seemed like the best route.  I purchased PoultryNet from Premier (whose catalogs have inspired, thrilled and educated me for years now) one roll of 48″ x 164′ netting and a solar energizer.

Craig Colquhoun of Hosbilt went about building me the Hen Hilton.  A coop beyond my wildest dreams.  Classic yet inspired, and built to last.

Here’s a picture of the chickens out in their yard.  We will rotate the position of the netting as the hens mow it down.  So far, nobody has realized they could fly over it, and it delivers enough of a wallop to keep them off of it.

The interior of the coop is exceptionally pleasing.  Branches were used for the perches and the roosts.  Very natural, and enjoyed thoroughly by persons and poultry.

Very proud to have a Hosbilt chicken coop!


  1. Elizabeth · April 20, 2012

    Gracious, SWANK quarters, chickens!!! heh That’s really gorgeous, my poor chickens would be so envious.

  2. Mom · April 20, 2012

    Totally cool to see them outside! They must be the happiest hens this side of Lake Huron!

  3. Twwly · April 20, 2012

    I’ve let them out at the end of every day here, against my better judgement and brief determination to stop the reckless crapping.

  4. heidi · April 20, 2012

    Wickeddddd! We offed our chickens last fall – sorta pre-baby panic to lighten our load, plus our chicken house was kinda nast. I still feel guilty about it. But hoping to get layers again soon… that poultry netting looks rad. Thanks for the tip about the Premier catalogue… I’ll likely enjoy browsing it.

  5. Daniel · April 20, 2012

    I did a huge double-take when I saw Craig Colquhoun’s name. I’m a piper and his company makes a lot of the bass and tenor drums used in pipe bands around the world. Small world :).

  6. Brenda · April 20, 2012

    Are these the same chickens that you rescued? If so, they look great. Please give us an update.

  7. Twwly · April 20, 2012

    Daniel – Craig is an expert in creating… drums or chicken coops, world class all the way!

    Brenda – some of them are yes. There are also a couple of my older hens, and some newer hens from a nice free range operation. The rescued hens are very happy themselves. They are not very good however about not sleeping in their nest boxes (when life was a box, I would imagine it’s where they feel ultimately comfortable, even though it was horrifying). So they crap all in their nest boxes, which is a daily battle for cleanliness. They don’t know how to fly like everyone else, so they’re not roosting where they should be. They have gotten over their urge to lay their eggs on the floor and sort of bury them, which was a TRUE pain in my rear.

    So they are happy. Am I happy? A little less so. But they have finally learned how to use the ramp to get into their coop, and are making progress. They are all slowly getting feathers again. The most damaged still have pretty bare necks, but they are healing I am glad to report.

    Heidi – you will LOVE the catalogue!

  8. Minnie · April 20, 2012

    Have you heard of jackets for ex battery hens?

    Apparently when they are warm and sung they are a little less mental and a bit more chicken-y. Its a pretty good website for anyone dealing with post industrial farm hens too.

  9. 6512 and growing · April 20, 2012

    what a lovely spot for a hen to live. lucky, lucky girls.

  10. Nancy · April 20, 2012

    I miss you and wish that you were not so far away!

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