Sheetrock is not food

We hit our first major chicken farmer problem today.

We spent much of the day tearing the walls out of our back addition. Crumbles of sheetrock and tufts of pink insulation covered the dirt outside the back door, remnants of what didn’t quite make it into the trash trailer.

I didn’t intend to let the chickens out today, seeing that there was so much debris near the chicken coop, but I suppose it gets dull being stuck in a muddy coop for several days in a row (free range prevented both by heavy rain/flooding and our construction activity). So today after I made a last check for eggs, two of the braver hens darted out of the coop as I stepped out. They were literally pressed against my leg on the way through the gate–that’s how desperate they were to squeeze out of there.

So I reasoned, well, since two of them are out, I suppose I should let the others out. And I did.

The next thing I hear is Peepers: “Bip-bip-bip-bip-bip!” I’ve learned that this odd peeping sound means, “I’ve found something yummy!!” All the hens come running as fast as they can when he makes this noise.

I look down to see what he’s got and I’m horrified to see him pecking at a little piece of sheetrock. Peepers thinks sheetrock is edible. Worse, he keeps telling all the ladies that he’s found something delicious!

So I start flapping my arms and screaming “NOOOOOO!!!!” After scaring the chickens into the safe half of the yard (far from the construction site), I get Byrd, and together we herd the chickens back into the coop. Squawkers gives us a really hard time.¬† She did NOT want to go back into the coop!

So we are now facing a few options.

1. Move the hen house and chicken coop into the “safe” side of the yard, and erect a plastic barrier to keep the chickens on that side of the yard when they range. This is my preferred option. Byrd objects because he thinks the chickens will ruin the grass under the coop. He’s right, but then again, the winter rye grass that’s there now will be dead in another month anyway, so what’s the big deal?

2. Erect a plastic barrier around the construction area to keep the chickens out. I think this is harder because it will cramp Byrd et al when they are working on the house. They will have to be careful not to let debris fall outside the barrier, and they will have to keep their tools and trailer within the barrier. It’s not much space.

3. Stop letting the chickens free-range until the construction is complete. I don’t want to do this to the chickens. They really love their range time. And construction might last for months.

Guess we’ll see what Byrd decides is the best option.

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4 Comments

  1. April 19, 2009 at 11:47 am

    Hmmm, powdered sheetrock … sounds like something that you might find in imported pet food to “stretch” the expensive ingredients …

  2. daisydog said,

    May 1, 2009 at 2:44 pm

    Peepers, I gave you an award which might help with your sheetrock problem.

  3. eastlakecounty said,

    June 15, 2009 at 1:50 pm

    Poor Squawkers! We, too, have chickens who don’t necessarily like being confined to their run, but with all the hawks about I don’t like to let them free range if I can’t be right there with them. How did you end up solving your problem?

    • Jennifer said,

      June 29, 2009 at 5:45 pm

      We went with the easiest option: put up some plastic fencing around the construction zone. It actually worked really well, so we used the same strategy around our vegetable garden.

      Of course, our chickens don’t fly unless something is chasing them. If they were more flight-happy, the plastic fence would not be an option, because it’s only a few feet high.


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