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The Daily Telegraph (Sydney) - Home - - FRONT PAGE - With ed­i­tor Robyn Wil­lis robyn.wil­lis@news.com.au

Lay­ing it on for a great hen’s life

Now that spring has kicked off, it’s be­com­ing in­creas­ingly ap­par­ent that the gar­den could do with some at­ten­tion.

In par­tic­u­lar, the hen house is look­ing worse for wear.

It’s not that sur­pris­ing given it’s the same ram­shackle set-up we’ve had since the chick­ens ar­rived al­most a decade ago, but what I once thought of as ex­hibit­ing rak­ish charm now just looks a lit­tle sad. With a prime spot in the cor­ner of the back­yard, an up­grade could well be in or­der.

And these days, there is no short­age of op­tions. In­deed, a quick in­ter­net search of chicken coops re­veals a plethora of well-ap­pointed hen houses, from ba­sic tri­an­gu­lar pens made for just a chook or two, to pala­tial two-storey ac­com­mo­da­tion not un­rea­son­ably named “the pent­house”.

For al­most $1000, these lux­ury chicken coops keep your hens off the ground in all weather while of­fer­ing easy ac­cess to their eggs via an ex­ter­nal flap so that you don’t have to en­ter the chick­ens’ do­main.

Par­don the pun, but I don’t think that’s go­ing to fly at our house.

Our chick­ens al­ready en­joy a free-range life­style, con­tained only by the fence line. Al­though they have been known to lay on the roost, they’d rather pick their own spot in the gar­den, which at the mo­ment is in the warm, soft earth be­hind the plumbago.

When they’re feel­ing par­tic­u­larly bold, they stroll up our back steps into the kitchen, gen­tly cluck­ing to them­selves for be­ing so clever. I swear they can also poo when they want — which seems to be right in front of the back door as they are be­ing ush­ered out.

In other words, they have a pretty com­fort­able life, de­spite their ba­sic sleep­ing quar­ters. I wouldn’t want them get­ting any ideas.

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