As in food, in a fence, for chickens.
The goal of this project is two-fold:
1) Stop the chickens from scratching dirt all over the walkway through their run
2) Provide them with healthy green nibbles that they cannot destroy
Anyone who has read even a few of my chicken posts is probably familiar with my endless battle for order in my hendom. After nearly two years of free-roaming our yard, the hens were restricted to a large, roomy chicken yard; ultimately extending their territory the length of the property with fencing and chicken tractors. While this solution has solved several of our free-roaming hen problems (flies, wasps, poop-mines, exponentially-growing scratch zones), it created a problem as well; nutrition.
Although our hens scratch and peck all day in their 800-sqft enclosure which includes the compost bins and lots of earth, they have pretty much eaten themselves out of fresh greens. And they looooove them some fresh greens! Healthy for them and for us, I bring them grass clippings when I cut the lawn, dandelions when the grow in the gardens, chickweed bouquets from the alley, and plenty of kitchen scraps. But it is never enough.
Last year I grew food for them in enclosures. The first crop they loved to death within days of gaining access. I reasoned that forage food might have a chance if it could be nibbled, but not trampled and scratched. The second crop I left inside the enclosure. They nibbled at it by sticking their heads through the 2″ metal mesh. They could reach about 4″ inside the enclosure and that perimeter was completely denuded. A fence would fix the messy path problem, and, with two sides, would provide a large surface area for nibbling on food. A small enough mesh would prevent denuding inside the fence, allowing the plants to regenerate and produce new growth – hopefully keeping up with the appetite of small voracious omnivores with fast metabolism.
Hence was born the chicken food fence. I originally intended to incorporate roosts and arbors, but the space is already busy and I finally caved into just needing to get it done. As with many of my projects, retrofits will surely be made. In the meantime, I will be choosing what forage foods I will plant for my chickens. They know not what awaits them, but I am so excited!
UPDATE on Chicken Food Fence