As with any other pet, there are downsides to keeping chickens, and the main thing that I’d been putting off as long as possible was cleaning out their house. In theory, this is supposed to be done weekly, but based on the surprisingly not-bad condition that they left it in this morning, we reckon we can probably get away with a fortnightly clean-out.
Anyway, this is what the chicken house looks like from behind. Note the bolt on the left-hand side of the left-hand picture – we added that because we thought it would be too easy for a determined fox to flip up the rather crude wooden catches and get the entire back open. There’s also some chicken wire draped over the roof – this is to discourage foxes from climbing up the house and using the roof as a launch pad to get into the pen. (We’re working out a less ramshackle and more permanent solution.)
The interior is essentially divided into two, with the back half subdivided further into three nesting compartments and some roosting bars. In theory, egg collection simply involves flipping down the back entrance and collecting them from the nesting compartment(s), though in practice the first egg was laid in the chicken pen so we have to keep an eye out there too.
Here’s a better-lit close-up of the interior:
This was taken after this morning’s cleaning-out, which involved scraping out as much of the existing sawdust as possible with a Dutch hoe (as in a gardening implement, not a denizen of Amsterdam’s famous red light district) and porting it over to our compost bin, and then replacing it with fresh sawdust – I erred on the side of generosity after I noticed that one of the chickens (presumably Pearl) had been augmenting her nesting compartment with torn-up newspaper. I also changed the newspaper under the roosting bars, something I do separately every few days as it usually gets the worst of the various substances that chickens are wont to leave behind.
We’ll also be giving the house a more elaborate clean-out every so often, including spraying the interior to kill off any red mite or other pests – which we did just before the chickens arrived in the first place.