For many years we had Isa Brown hens. They were great layers and a very friendly breed. Having decided to breed for meat though, we now have Australorps as they are a good breed for both eggs and meat, plus the hens are good mothers.
We find that just five or six hens and one rooster is enough to give us plenty of eggs for ourselves and to give away.
They live in ‘Poultry Towers’, which is attached to the three other enclosures we used as vegetable gardens. This worked well for years, as they had access to which ever garden was not in use. The method gives them food, but also helped by turning the soil and scraps over, eating any seeds, and adding manure to what was the next seasons vegetable garden.
Now we have moved the vegetable growing area to the aquaponics system and the ‘complex’ nearer the house, we use the three old vegetable beds as ‘clucker tucker’. We sow wheat, lupins and what ever else we have so there is always fresh greens for them. in at least one of the gardens.
The actual roost and nesting box is raised up almost a metre from the ground to help reduce stick fast fleas, mites and lice that they may otherwise get if they roost close to the ground. Also, between the roosting branches and the ground we have inserted a piece of corrugated tin on a slight slope-this collects their droppings in a way that it is easy to access and use as fertiliser! Provided this is done regularly and the entire inside is given a good hose down now and then, we successfully remain flea free!
Vegetable scraps from the kitchen and straw/manure from the rabbits gets thrown into the fallow bed for the chooks to scratch around in and spread out, adding fertiliser to the area. Plus the guts etc from the slaughtering and butchering is buried, further adding to the richness of the soil in preparation for planting.