The Chickens and Ducks
We currently have a small number of laying hens, 1 rooster, a few ducks and 1 drake, and refer to them collectively as chucks. Keeping birds alive has been a struggle for us over the years. We are constantly adapting our housing and fencing to address threats: from foxes, coyotes, and bobcats, to hawks and mystery predators. It is important to us that our animals have access to fresh pasture throughout the year (which makes securing them even more of a challenge), but at the moment we have a system that appears to be working. Our flock is fed organic grain and left overs from the garden, and we hope to expand the population more in the future.
Chicken Summer House
The chickens move around our property in a rolling A-frame with an assortment of shade structures, which is surrounded by electric net fencing. We move the whole set-up every 2-3 weeks and at the end of the season they get to help clean out the garden, which reduces pests and weeds while adding nutrients.
Chuck Winter House
The electric fence loses efficiency in the winter so we have built a more sturdy house for winter dwelling. We've never had chickens who enjoy the snow, so we installed a tunnel connecting their winter house to the summer one, providing more space to stay indoors while still enabling daily outdoor access. No amount of snow or ice seems to deter the ducks, but they also appear to enjoy the extra protection on cold windy days.
I prefer ducks to chickens, I feel they have more personality and are smarter than chickens. They LOVE slugs, making them a great fit here where we use lots of mulch, which can lead to lots of slugs. They also LOVE water and can make a real mess while enjoying it. They have their own rolling house and a kiddie pool but share the same fenced area as the chickens. They are more of a challenge to keep here in the winter with their love of water and the freezing temperatures, but I'm working on ways to keep them healthy and happy.