Get the rules sorted be­fore count­ing eggs

CHB Mail - - Farm Focus - BY EMMA GEURTSE

Fear not dear read­ers, this is not a philo­soph­i­cal dis­cus­sion. I am in the early stages of es­tab­lish­ing a small hen­house in my quest for a more sus­tain­able life­style. Re­cy­cling the dog’s old ken­nel which has a hinged lid for ac­cess in­side for clean­ing and egg col­lec­tion and an old milk crate for a nest­ing box.

A per­ma­nent run will al­low ac­cess to an­other mov­able net­ting run, this will con­tain the chick­ens to spe­cific ar­eas of the veg­etable gar­den. Oth­er­wise those newly planted beans will van­ish, the sil­ver­beet will look like it’s been through a hail­storm and my newly prepped and sown car­rot bed will be­come a per­fect dust bath.

It is about that time the words roast chicken start to be men­tioned quite fre­quently!

At the end of the sea­son the run can be put over a veg­etable bed and the chooks can clean up any bugs, plants and gen­er­ally get the bed ready for me to plant again. I’m go­ing with three chick­ens for the size house they will have, which still gives me 18-20 eggs a week. As a new chicken owner here are some things I have had to con­sider:

■ Chooks need ac­cess to fresh clean wa­ter, they go through a lot in sum­mer to keep cool (chick­ens can’t sweat).

■ Feed — chick­ens will eat food scraps, greens and weeds, bugs and slugs they for­age for, qual­ity layer pel­lets.

■ Nest­ing ma­te­rial for in­side the chicken house — op­tions in­clude straw, hay, shred­ded pa­per, pine nee­dles plus a roost for them to sleep.

■ Preda­tors — while your pets may han­dle hav­ing feath­ered fam­ily mem­bers oth­ers may see them as fair game, the house and run will need to be preda­tor proof.

■ Coun­cil by­laws for keep­ing chooks in town — ac­cessed on CHB coun­cil web­site the by­laws de­tail how many you can chick­ens you can keep (12 max­i­mum, no roost­ers, as well as the sit­ing of the run re­gard­ing dwellings and bound­ary fence).

■ What if I go on hol­i­day? — most neigh­bours will hap­pily check the flock in re­turn for some eggs.

It is about that time the words ‘roast chicken’ start to be men­tioned quite fre­quently!

■ For more in­for­ma­tion check out the Sus­tain­able Ewe web­page www.sus­tainewe.org.nz

Most neigh­bours will hap­pily check the flock in re­turn for some eggs.

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