Now in 2020 in Sunseed we have 9 chickens and 1 rooster. They are with us since April 2019 and we keep them for the eggs that we normally eat during the weekend. We have a rota to manage who takes care of the chickens. The eggs are collected during the week and shared out within the community at the weekend.
Sunseed has had chickens in the past, around 2005. There was then a period of not having chickens at Sunseed.
In 2018 talks started about bringing chickens back into Sunseed. In 2019, the Chicken coop was build and we bought 5 chickens. We bought the chickens from a woman in Sorbas (5 of them) and from a shop in Vera that sells animals and animals food (terrible place with not much respect for the animals). The chicken coop has an area of more or less 25 square meters and is situated between The Patch and New Lands.
Inside the chicken coop there are two little houses, one fore storing the chicken food and one where the chickens sleep.
In the chicken coop we also have some trees (Pomegranate, mandarines, Mora nigra, olive, vine, orange, nispero). Some of them were already there before we built the chicken coop and some we planted recently to improve the shade. We planted both evergreens and deciduous so in the winter there is more sun, also the trees we planted are producing edible fruits so the chickens can have some of them. Close to the trees there are also two permanent shade structures and an extra one that we put in place only during summer (we hope that the last one won’t be needed anymore in the future if the trees that we planted grows enough).
The hen house is 2 by 2 m and is made mainly out of canes with mud and straw outside. The roof is made with metal sheets. Inside the hen house we have some wood boxes where the chickens can lay their eggs. There is also a pole that crosses the house 50 cm below the roof for the chickens to sleep on.
Managing the chickens
The rota: every week we have two people in charge of the chickens. Change of teams of tuesday, when the old team teaches the new team.
Every morning: refresh the water (water the trees with the old water), fill the feeder with 5 pots of grains. Let the chickens out from the hen house (door kept open with stone). During the day: bring greens, leaves and garden fruits. That’s for eating but also for mulch. Bring kitchen scraps (the ones chickens like to eat). Feed the chickes worms from the worm farm (still in experimentation).
In the evening: Put the feeder in the little house where we store the food. Count the chickens, collect the eggs. Close the door of the hen house with the stone. Bring the eggs to the food store after cleaning with water and soap. Generally we get 7 eggs a day more or less.
Cleaning: the old team cleans together with the new team on Tuesday. Scrape and collect straw and manure, and put it in the storage place in the compost area. We use the chicken manure in the compost. (for nitrogen). Then we add new straw in the chicken coup. Replace the round stones in the egg-laying boxes (so they lay the eggs in the same place).
For feeding the chickens we have a metal food dispenser. The chickens tend to compete for the food as it is quite small for the amount of chickens we have. The food is stored in the second little house in a closed plastic barrel. We buy the food from the shop beside the Ferreteria in Sorbas. It is a premix of Now we,re testing organic one (from Planeta Huerto) but it cost 3 times more the one we were normally using. Avoid: onion, leek, banana, citrus fruit, kiwi, spicy, salty Very their diet by giving them lots of greens and worms, etc.
When we run out of food we have used a mix of flour and water. Its not the best but can be used in emergency situations. We have also grinded up maiz from the almond store and fed this to them.
In the Spring we sometimes have a snail problem. We have been using cardboard to catch the snails but the best way is to go with a torch at night and collect them. Then we feed them to the chickens.
Once a week we feed the chickens a mixture of crushed up egg shells, flour and water. This is because we found soft shell eggs in the hen house. The calcium in the eggs shells helps the chickens to produce healthy eggs.
Be aware of their health, check plummage, couch, sores, discharge, etc. In the case of them having a cold: give them a thyme infusion. In case of a dead chicken we use it for composting (after funeral)