Chicken Care (Total Care System)

Thursday 6-21-2012

As part of my permaculture design course, one of the homework assignments involved developing a system for taking care of laying birds. Since I was already doing this, I thought it would be a good opportunity to get another homework assignment done, and also share my system for taking care of my hens. Below in italics is the question I was given.


Discuss the advantages and responsibilities of keeping Birds

that frequently lay eggs in a Permaculture system. Design a

suitable system for your home situation. What are the options

for a Unit dweller?


The hens love cauliflower leaves. The chicken fun run pods are being used for shade until it is time to graze the garden plots.


Advantages for laying hens

-Fresh eggs to eat

-Nitrogen rich manure

-Insect control

-Weed control

-Good for eating kitchen scraps and damaged produce


-Makes a garden feel more like a garden when you have animals

-Scratching good for garden prep


Responsibilities of keeping laying hens

-They need access to fresh clean water

-Unless you have a really good system, they will need some feed

-Access to good pasture

-Predator proof housing

-Laying boxes


-Need shade in summer


 My Chicken System


-5 Hens are housed in a moveable, insulated chicken coop

-Chicken coop has 2 nesting boxes, with outside access and roosting bars. Feed is hung on the door.


Inside the moveable coop                                                  Outside access to nesting boxes                                                                               


-Water is kept outside, and hung in various places along fence, or in chicken run.

-Waterers are overhead systems that cannot be fowled



-Chicken Run is fenced with tight strong wire

-Chicken coop is predator proof with a door that shuts automatically at dusk, and opens at dawn via a solar cell and solar powered battery

-Chickens are kept in zone 1 for better access and security



-Their chicken run is 1350 square feet.

-I planted (2) nectarine trees, and (1) plum tree for shade and fruit scraps. Other than those trees, the pasture is made up of mostly of fescue, plantains, clover, and dandelions.

-I have observed what they really like, and I would like to plant the following in their pasture to lessen the amount of feed they consume: Chickweed, comfrey, swiss chard, amaranth

-I really like paddock shift systems, but with only 5 chickens the pasture doesn’t seem to need rest. If I had more chickens, I would break up the run into (4) sections and move them once a week. This can be done with the chicken fun run system.


Garden prep and clean-up

-I like to put them to work in the fall and winter cleaning up my annual garden beds.

-I run them through my plots with the moveable coop, and my moveable pod system, the chicken fun run.

-The moveable run is great, because I can put them exactly where I want them to graze, scratch, eat bugs, and fertilize.

-This also gives their run 4-5 months of rest.



-I put a piece of plywood under the slatted floor to catch the manure

-Once a week, I add this to my compost pile or to fallow areas in the garden

-This helps keep disease pressures down

-The coop is moved once a week



-With the slatted floor, the coop is never very dirty, but I do a good clean-up once a year in the spring.



-On average, I get (4) eggs per day. These must be collected daily. I have found that if I collect after lunchtime, all the chickens will have finished laying for the day, so I only need to go out once per day to tend the chickens.

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