When building the coop and run for our 3 hens we were focussed on both keeping them safe from predators and on keeping them in their designated area. So far we’ve aced the first goal – not so much on the 2nd.
Yesterday, when we were down with our chooks, Bronwyn hopped into the fork in the orange tree which is a centrepiece of their enclosure (I didn’t have my camera which me). Rosie hopped up next to her and they scrambled to try to both grab hold of the steeply sloping trunk. They were obviously uncomfortable and hopped right down. We breathed a sigh of relief as they not only didn’t seem to like their off-ground adventure, they also didn’t look higher into the tree for a better perch. Not that they could have escaped from there, but just the thought of them hunting for higher ground made me nervous.
I didn’t have long to relax though. Later in the afternoon, Bronwyn effortlessly jumped/flew on top of the coop. The research we’d done – including talking to a guy who has about 5000 free range layers, indicated that chickens can be kept contained by 1 metre high fences (unless maybe they are really scared by something). Our fence is more like 1.6 metres but the coop makes up one corner of the fencing and it’s only about 1.1 metres high.
Anyway, it really doesn’t matter what we thought – clearly our chickens could get onto their coop and from there, into our yard (and from there, our neighbour’s yards, and from there…) Frank and I circled behind the coop, waved our arms and Bronwyn jumped down. Easy peasy!
Then, with us still standing there, Isabel jumped/flew on up. If there was any remaining concern that our chickens were afraid of us, it vanished in that moment. We waved our arms and clapped our hands and Isabel looked ever so proud of herself and stayed right where she was. Frank broke off a stem of a nearby Agapanthus and gave her a poke. She was unmovable. I finally got my hands on her and ended up tossing her (she fluttered her wings free and I was too nervous to try to get a better hold and carry her around in through the gate) back into her enclosure. (Nope, no camera for these stunts either.)
It was evening so we herded them into their coop and locked the door leaving the chook upgrade for the morrow.