When we first got our chooks (they were day old chicks at the time) in February last year the answer to that question would have been a resounding yes! In fact I wrote a glowingly romantic Top 5 post about the highlights of keeping chickens. A year in and I’m not so sure…
You see chooks are very, very destructive. As soon as your silver beet seedlings go in they will be dug up, pecked over, trampled on, and then ceremoniously buried, as the chicken spies the possibility of a small grub somewhere just to the left of where you planted. Mature plants are not much better off, their leaves shredded and then finally removed as the chook gets every last little morsel of green.
Not only that but they poo….everywhere! We have a back door step coated in dried droppings, the trip to get eggs is akin to walking through a minefield and I have lost count of the amount of times I have had to tell my 4 year old not stop throwing the stuff at his sister. It’s all quite unpleasant really.
All of this would be manageable, with a bit of fencing and good natured humour if it weren’t for one simple fact. Chickens can fly. Higher than I thought. Before I got chickens I thought their main flying efforts would be a little flap which got them not much higher than I can jump, (which, incidentally is embarrassingly low according to the jumping test thingy they have at Melbourne’s Scienceworks museum), but no. They can get higher than that. Higher than the 80cm plastic fencing that I put round the garden to secure parts of it. It may not be normal bird high, but it is still too high for my liking.
So what to do? I have decided on segmenting off a part of the garden as theirs. I have filled it with my potted plants as they can’t dig around them as much, and I have erected a new 1.2m fence around it. (I say “I” but actually it was my partner, but his work counts as mine doesn’t it?)
Just in case the birds are Olympic athletes in disguise I have secured the fence panels with star posts that are taller than the fence, enabling me to increase its height if necessary. Will this be enough? I hope so because despite their generally messiness I love them really. Just like my children. And unlike my children they give me eggs pretty much everyday.