When we first got our chooks - about a year and a half ago now, we were happy to let them free range in the backyard for most of the day. Sure, we got annoyed when they scratched all the dirt and litter out of the garden and onto the path. Sure, it was a bit frustrating having to wear shoes all the time or run the risk of smearing chicken poo all over your bare feet. On the whole though, they did little damage and we all got a long quite well.
We built our extension and I decided that it'd be nice to have flowers to pick and to smell. I also started to sneak vegetables out of the patch and into the 'ornamental' garden.
Suddenly the chickens scratching around became a problem and I was constantly chasing them out of my newly planted seed beds.
We (well, let's be fair - big Dude) finally created a run for them that attaches to their pen. He added a little hinged door and now they are happy to scratch around under the citrus trees. I am happy that they have room to move without digging up my garden. The kids can now run outside barefoot without the risk of poo.
We're happy all round.
Except for one chicken - she's a bit of an escape artist. She's discovered that she can jump the fence from one of the rocks surrounding Fuzzy ducks water bath.
Some days she forgets and stays enclosed without a worry. Other days she prowls the fence line plotting her escape and once she finds it we have a constant battle of wills...
She jumps out, I scold her and put her back in.
This continues until I have enough of either constantly going out to catch her or constantly hearing the kids telling me ' mum... the naughty chicken is out'.
Then she gets locked back in the pen.
In the pen, further changes have been made.
We used to just have a big plastic tub for the water. I hated having to change it because it was turning green. It seemed such a waste to tip out so much water. Then, enter one duck and the water was just plain disgusting after only one day. I was sure the chickens were going to get ill from sharing their water with Fuzz. There's a reason chooks are not supposed to be housed with ducks - they say. But mine get along quite nicely so a solution had to be found...
and it was...
PVC pipe with nipples!
Add some caps on either end. Screw in some chicken nipples - I ended up ordering these online from Brookfield Poultry Equipment. Add some silicon if necessary and there you go... a clean and efficient chicken drinking system that will provide them with water to last for weeks. So now the water is enclosed and stays clean, I just need to top it up every now and then.
The chickens didn't take long at all to adjust.
I grabbed them one by one and pressed their beaks to the nipples so they could see how they released water. The pipe is attached to the fence at about chook head height and they just touch and drink.
They do still share Fuzz's bath water on occasion - but as it is not right near the food, it doesn't get so unhygienic and Fuzz usually drinks from the nipples too.
if only they'd get over the winter blues and start laying again, we could all be mighty pleased with our chicken changes.