Fear not dear readers, this is not a philosophical discussion.

I am in the early stages of establishing a small henhouse in my quest for a more sustainable lifestyle.

Recycling the dog's old kennel which has a hinged lid for access inside for cleaning and egg collection and an old milk crate for a nesting box.

A permanent run will allow access to another movable netting run, this will contain the chickens to specific areas of the vegetable garden. Otherwise those newly planted beans will vanish, the silverbeet will look like it's been through a hailstorm and my newly prepped and sown carrot bed will become a perfect dust bath.


It is about that time the words roast chicken start to be mentioned quite frequently!

At the end of the season the run can be put over a vegetable bed and the chooks can clean up any bugs, plants and generally get the bed ready for me to plant again. I'm going with three chickens for the size house they will have, which still gives me 18-20 eggs a week.

As a new chicken owner here are some things I have had to consider:

* Chooks need access to fresh clean water, they go through a lot in summer to keep cool (chickens can't sweat).
* Feed — chickens will eat food scraps, greens and weeds, bugs and slugs they forage for, quality layer pellets.
* Nesting material for inside the chicken house — options include straw, hay, shredded paper, pine needles plus a roost for them to sleep.
* Predators — while your pets may handle having feathered family members others may see them as fair game, the house and run will need to be predator proof.
* Council bylaws for keeping chooks in town — accessed on CHB council website the bylaws detail how many you can chickens you can keep (12 maximum, no roosters, as well as the siting of the run regarding dwellings and boundary fence).
* What if I go on holiday? — most neighbours will happily check the flock in return for some eggs.

For more information check out the Sustainable Ewe webpage www.sustainewe.org.nz