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My chickens & garden

I figured that some of you that are just starting out growing your own food might like this. I saw this article about 3 years ago and improved on it.


What I did was use an old utility trailer with a mesh bottom and some scrap wood and tin to make a movable chicken coop. And then use a portable electric net fence to surround it.

The trailer is one like this that had a bent axle and wasn't worth fixing.


I took off the gate and used it for the grate in my masonry smoker/grill. I then used scrap lumber and tin to build a coop on the trailer. Toward the hitch end I built the nest box and put a separate roof on it that I can raise to get the eggs. The other end is open for the chickens to get in, from the nest box end it is about 4 feet high and slopes up to 5 feet on the back end of the trailer. I put saplings in there nailed about 2 feet up for them to roost on. The roof overhangs the back about 2 feet and the sides and front are completely enclosed.

The fence just hooks up to my existing electric fence with a jumper wire. It is this.


It has step in post and I can move it by myself in about 30 minutes. My garden/chicken area is set up running South/North. Right now the chickens are in the South end of the area, and have been since about September. Prior to that my summer garden was there. I mowed down every thing that was still standing before I moved the coop and fence. There is no longer any visible vegetation, it has all been either eaten and pooped out or has rotted and been scratched under to compost. The whole area has been scratched up and fertilized. The North end is where they spent the summer, I didn't plant a winter garden this year so it is fallow, I have been dumping the ashes from my outdoor wood stove in that spot, in a month or so I will move the trailer/coop and the fence back to the Northern spot and till up the south spot to get ready for the summer garden.

I don't have to add hardly any fertilizer to the garden, just lime it every other year. And the soil is a nice rich loamy soil now instead of a thick clay.

Before my back got so bad (arthritis and degenerated disc) I would move the trailer by hand, now I use the lawn mower or truck. Here in Alabamastan the coldest we get is 15 or so, and the chickens have been fine, I just put the water in the garage at night and then put it back out during the day, and they keep it pecked open of ice. The coop has no insulation and the back is just an open space of 4x5 foot. The other three sides being enclosed are fine. The floor being a metal mesh most of the poop falls through. Under the roosting sticks it accumulates, I fix this by throwing some scratch on the poop pile and the birds knock it down through the floor.

Whatever left overs or food scraps we have go to the birds as well as all the egg shells (crush them up so they don't recognize it as an egg, cause they will eat the eggs, and once they start they don't stop), if we eat out I ask for a to go box for all the scraps from our plates and that goes to the chickens. During the fall,spring, and summer they have the left over garden to eat too as well as seeds and bugs. By winter all the greenery is usually gone and scratched bare. In the summer I plant them some clover in which ever spot they are in plus what ever comes up on its own.

Depending on how many birds we have (varies between 4 and 8 or so, I rotate new birds in and old birds get eaten) and the season of the year I use one bag of layer crumbles and one bag of scratch feed in a month to month and half. The rest of their feed is vegetation and food scraps, chickens are omnivores so I give them every thing meat and all. There is an auction every Friday night about 10 miles away and my little boy and I will go when we want new birds. Right now we have 3 hens and one rooster, and have been getting 3 eggs a day consistently all winter.

As far as predators the only thing that bothers them is hawks, I clip their wings (only one side, makes them off balance so they can't fly),so they can't go over the fence, and nothing goes in the electric fence to them. For the hawks if they get bad I put a mirror and some old cds on strings about 6 feet high they reflect the light and the hawks stay away, also I put a scare hawk on a t post out there, with a bleach bottle with big scary eyes and one of my old long sleeve shirts to blow in the wind.

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pastured poultry paddocks

More great ideas by paul wheaton:


I couldn't find the thread about fish and plants in greenhouses

that fishyculture had posted. This is about aqua culture gardening and very interesting! So I will post it here.
I think there was another video on there about this same project, but this one uses yellow perch instead of tilapia.
(I miss fishyculture's great posts on gardening and chickens, etc!)

Gardening and Aquaphonics

This is a great web site and the forums are filled with great information.


The American Dream............
you have to be asleep to believe it!

Birds of feather....

flock together.

How cold can it go so the chickens don't freeze??
I'm way north

Geodesic chicken coop, Veg oil stoves, Yurts, Greenhouses, and more~

The Pods have spoken

Why would you be concerned?

From the spam mail you sent me it appears you have plenty of wood heat to keep them warm.That was a little out of line by the way.You used the privilege of the DP contact info to send me a spam mail.No thank you,I have been building my own wood stoves for years.I am a welder,fabricator from way back.

If I disappear from a discussion please forgive me. My 24-7 business requires me to split mid-sentence to serve them. I am not ducking out, I will be back later to catch up.

Henny Penny laid an egg for me today!

My son brought me Henny Penny and Cocky Locky (and he is aptly named)3 days ago. I built a small coop for them using scraps of siding paneling. (total cost $8 for the hinges) It isn't as fancy as Quiltingsando's coop she built. I need to trim it and paint it.
I will build a yard for them and keep them in until I know my dogs will leave them alone. Then I will just let them run free. We have lots of ticks in the spring and I hope they help with that.
When Henny Penny sets, and she will because she is a banty, I will get some fertile eggs from the neigbor's Silver Spangled Wyandottes to put under her and keep 2 of the hens.
I haven't had chickens for years,but with the economy going south I thought I should prepare to be more self sufficient.

Our chickens in Crete...

I admire your design and implementation of your portable coop, OD. We have a donkey and naturally rich soil, so chicken fertilizer is not a main concern, but we do let the girls free range in our garden areas. The are great little cultivators.

Here is a photo of three of our chickens (about 3-4 months old.) We purchased them as chicks at a local feed store.


And here is our little rooster. He's quite a character (and virile!) He is a gift from a friendly villager.


I sure would like to have a

rooster but my neighbors would be furious.

Prepare & Share the Message of Freedom through Positive-Peaceful-Activism.

Our neighbors...

The villagers here have awakened to rooster calls for centuries. Many keep chickens, even those with little outdoor space. Most never buy eggs and many make sure that their neighbors get their excess as a kind gesture of sharing.

I think rooster calls and church bells are my favorite sounds here. (Not to mention our donkey's welcoming braying as I approach for her daily maintenance. If you have never heard one, they start with a series of softer inhale/exhale sounds, like they're filling their bellows, then let loose with their signature "hee-haw" braying.)

Oh, I want a donkey too!

I really need to get out to the country with some room to have all the critters I want. I would love to have a miniature donkey, a miniature cow, a miniature horse, chickens and a rooster. I figure if I had small size animals it wouldn't be to expensive to feed them. I would like to train them to pull little carts and a little plow. I get some really crazy ideas sometimes. hee,hee

Prepare & Share the Message of Freedom through Positive-Peaceful-Activism.

Did you know they have mini cattle dogs?

I have 4 mini-Australian Shepherd dogs. My smallest one weighs about 8 lbs, the largest one weighs 18 lbs and is about 14 inches tall at the shoulder.
They make great house pets, but they have the instincts to herd cattle. You should find one to herd your mini cattle!
They also have mini goats--Dwarf Nigerian goats. They are so cute!
A few years ago I bought a mini pony and he is so small that I built a cart for him to pull out of one of the garden carts with bicycle tires. He can pull a large man in the cart.
My son has him now because he was so kind and gentle he made a great beginner horse for the grandkids.

Thank you Quilting!

You brought a laugh to start my day!It appears you are looking for economy and fuel mileage in your quest!LOL!I wish I had thought of that before getting this big dog I have now!

If I disappear from a discussion please forgive me. My 24-7 business requires me to split mid-sentence to serve them. I am not ducking out, I will be back later to catch up.

I didn't know there were

I didn't know there were other DP'ers in Crete!

"Air is the very substance of our freedom, the substance of superhuman joy....aerial joy is freedom."--Gaston Bachelard--

We're everywhere!

You are welcome to send me a message. Perhaps we can meet someday over a coffee at the kafenion.

Couldn't resist jumping in...

A light weight, portable alternative that certainly serves its purpose, and pretty cheap too....


Always remember:
"It does not require a majority to prevail, but rather an irate, tireless minority keen to set brush fires in people's minds." ~ Samuel Adams
If they hate us for our freedom, they must LOVE us now....

Stay IRATE, remain TIRELESS, an

reedr3v's picture

Thanks for sharing your practical

experiences with chickens. I wouldn't have thought of an electric fence to keep predators away; I'd still wonder if it might harm the chickens.

It doesn't

Their feathers insulate them pretty well from the shock, but if the wattles or combs hit the wire they learn to stay away. I clip their wings http://www.backyardchickens.com/LC-wingclipping.html so they can't go over.

I have had one hen in the last 4 years that learned to put her head in the middle of the opening and go through the fence. The rest would look at her and seem to say "no way".

The fence registers between 3000 and 6000 volts on the tester depending on how damp the ground is, and it pulses so if a chicken touches it they may not even get shocked. But, any thing that comes into contact with it for more than 2 seconds or so is gonna feel it, and get away.

*May the only ones to touch your junk, be the ones you want to touch your junk.*

BMWJIM's picture

After the tractor and disc I have to

get me some chickens. Ya'll seem to be having too much fun LoL.

Maybe we can trade some crawfish for some eggs. If it is a good bike ride I might even cook the crawfish for you.


1976-1982 USMC, Having my hands in the soil keeps me from soiling my hands on useless politicians.

Speaking of crawfish...

I've thought about growing THEM! Any idea how difficult they are to farm, Jim? My "farm" is in southernmost GA.

'Cause there's a monster on the loose

BMWJIM's picture

There are several within 4 miles of me .

I will try to find out what I can. If I didn't love motorcycles so much maybe that is what i should have done LoL!

I will find out what I can. It is good you are in the southernnmost part of GA. It has everything to do with the heat(EDIT: and knowing how to cook and prepare them as they should be done)(I can help you there if need be) (My wife and I joke that is why she married me, LoL). In May I will set traps in the spillway and gather what I can. Maybe 8-10 thousand pounds or maybe just a 1,000 (who knows). It is hard work doing it as I grew up but wild caught takes premium dollar.

Farm raised makes more money because of volume. I will catch what I can and freeze for family and friends. When I was growing up people would take a few crawfish (15-200) and make a meal (plenty gravy/roux lots of rice.). LoL, I can eat 10-15 pounds at a boil by myself at this time and I am still rather slim for my height.

This is something you should look at but, not as a business, to sustain your livelyhood.


1976-1982 USMC, Having my hands in the soil keeps me from soiling my hands on useless politicians.

thanks jim! I challenge you to crawfish eat off...

Can eat my share! Equal challenge with raw oysters.

Fun facts for crawfish farms:
a. Louisiana is the leading state with 125,000 acres in crawfish farming.
b. Other states and acreages are Texas, 5,000; Florida, 2,500; South Carolina, 1,000; Arkansas, 500;
Mississippi, 250; and Alabama, Georgia, Maryland, and North Carolina with fewer than 100 acres each.
Some crawfish are also grown in California, Wisconsin, Oregon, and Washington.
I remember finding a good web link a while back. As you say, not something i'd want to make a living at. But would be a good source of protein to supplement the catfish...

'Cause there's a monster on the loose

We just built a chicken coup

My uncle wanted to raise some chickens on my piece, so we built a chicken coup. We have four hens, and we are going to get a rooster. I need to share this thread with him. We have hawks, so the tip about stringing up used cd's will be helpful. Also, I didn't realize that they needed to eat so much meat. I know they love grass, but since they love meat I'm going to have to go give them some pork ribs we cooked last night. How old are hens when they start laying eggs? I was told a year. Is there any thing we can do to get them to start laying earlier?

"I support the Declaration of Independence and I interpret the Constitution."

They'll start between 4mths and 6mths

depending on breed, right now I have Rhode Island Reds, and one Cochin, the Cochin is about 5mths old plus or minus and she started laying about a month ago, they all are laying just about every day even through the winter.

I don't cook food for them, but any scraps including meat they get, just me if you cooked the ribs last night I'd eat them and then give the chickens the bones.

*May the only ones to touch your junk, be the ones you want to touch your junk.*

bump for . . .


it's hard to be awake; it's easier to dream--


there are some hawks even here in big city Toronto...pigeons have to watch out for them all the time.

LL on Twitter: http://twitter.com/LibertyPoet
sometimes LL can suck & sometimes LL rocks!
Love won! Deliverance from Tyranny is on the way! Col. 2:13-15


Chickens a wonderful blessing.

Prepare & Share the Message of Freedom through Positive-Peaceful-Activism.

woohoo a chicken thread!

Wish we could post pictures somehow. We are similar, only we picked up a free camper off of craigslist and gutted it. It is very plain now but the plans are very good. I like to be very patient and watch how things are working before I tear into doing a bunch of work on things. Nothing worse than building a house on your property just to learn that you should have built somewhere else.

Anyway..this spring we are going to take the one piece bathtub/sink/toilet out and use it in our barn when we add a sleeping space in there. In its place we will make that the laying area where I can check eggs from the outside. This part is in the back of the trailer.

The middle part of the trailer will hold the roosts and feed/water for the bad weather days. Feed and water will go on a 2x4 box covered with rabbit wire so to not make a mess, and put a drain in for the nasty water to run out. The front part of the trailer will have a wall made out of 2x4 and chicken wire for use as a brooding area.

I hear if you keep the laying area and the "living" area of the chickens separate then you get much cleaner eggs. All I would have to do is let them out and then close the door to the bathroom/laying area. There is a hole where the toilet drained and it could be made bigger so that they can simply pop up through there and go lay their eggs.

The vents from the stove and the air conditioner made perfect chicken doors when I took the vents out. Plenty big enough for them to get in and out, and low enough that I don't use any kind of walkway or ladder for them to get in. If I happen to forget to close them up then I don't really have to worry much about predators. I have lost very few and those were from chickens wondering to far away. I don't clip my wings, but I do keep the electric fence up and just leave the gate open during the day, and close it at night.

I would like to find one of those big hay trailers with the wheels at all four corners and make a huge summertime coop for some pastured poultry. If I went ahead and bought me a chicken plucker there might be some money in it. I'll try just about anything once. :O)

I have one hen

the youngest that loves to perch on the edge of the nest and crap all over the eggs. You having a big coop may solve that.

*May the only ones to touch your junk, be the ones you want to touch your junk.*