Aaron and I have been on a “let’s make these chickens work for us” kick ever since we moved to the farm. Building them a happy chicken palace was only step one. Now, we want them to be able to clean clover, insects and ticks out of the garden.
Originally, we hoped to build a long system of chicken tunnels – chunnels – through and around the garden. The reality of that is tough. They’d be waaaaay long for the chickens to wander through. They’d also make garden maintenance and mowing a royal nightmare.
The solution has been to build portable chunnels that we can put 2-4 chickens into, then roll or slide into spaces around the garden that need some chicken love. The prototype is a 2′ x 2′ tunnel that is 8′ long. It has a hinged door on one end, is enclosed with tiny hardware mesh and has an open bottom for pecking and scratching.
Our intention is to add wheels and handles for easy moving, but so far, this early and simple solution is working great.
Over the weekend, we did have to toss a piece of plywood on the top of one end to ensure the chickens had some shade and protection from the light rains that moved through. It did the trick and may even inspire some additional changes for future adjustments!
The chickens seemed to enjoy the escape from the coop a bit too. They mowed down the clover patch they were on top of and happily returned to their friends in the coop before evening.
Bonus points, the guineas have been practicing their free-range tactics most days – but we’ve been struggling to get them to venture away from the flock. The chunnel and the few chickens inside attracted the guineas away from the larger coop and got them to explore a bit. It was seriously awesome to see them break their usual habits!