A year or two ago I read on line or in a magazine that farmers used to make their garden on either side of the chicken house. They would fence off one side of the chicken house and let the chickens do the work of cleaning the garden and fertilizing it as they did so. The next year they would block off that section and move the chickens to the other side of the chicken house to start the work all over again. The old side would then be planted.
If you have ever had chickens in a pen then you already know they will peck and scratch an area completely bare like our old chicken yard. The few remaining chickens were still the ones I had to catch to move to the new pen. The front area here is where I plan to now plant a winter garden. The back area is useless as it has massive roots from a live oak tree. I have been dumping all of the goat manure in this front area and the chickens did a great job of scratching it into the ground. Just a light tilling and I should be ready to plant.
In the new area I had a small hoop house I used for plant propagation when we had our nursery business. I decided to turn it into the new chicken coop. The rooting house is made from pvc pipe and thick plastic. Grandson and I made a small 16 x 16 doorway in the side and cut the plastic out of the new opening.
We then covered the entire hoop house with a tarp as it would be too hot with the clear plastic. We even have an emergency stash of water by the new coop if needed.
The chickens have their work cut out for them. I hope in a months time they have eaten every weed, weed seeds, insects and their eggs out of this area and then I'll move them to another side of the coop.
We put up two long roost in the coop but the chickens have refused to sleep in the new coop.
I thought maybe that maybe the roost are too high but one flew up on top of the 6 foot fence to roost.
A few flew up on a cross brace.
The rest of them settled down alongside of the lattice back fence.
The only time they are in the coop is to eat the layer pellets.
I put some nursery pot containers with hay in them for some temporary laying boxes. Only a few have gotten the hint. The rest of the eggs are being laid right out in the enclosed yard full of weeds. I go on an Easter egg hunt everyday.
I will try lowering the roost and see if that will help to make them start using the coop at night. I also plan to build their new nesting boxes this week. I don't know what else to do. I accidentally clicked on a PETA site the other day with an article on why you shouldn't eat chickens and how intelligent they were. They haven't met my chickens! I think I will order this shirt and wear it to the coop every morning and see if any of them can read.