Thanks to Isa Menzies for this detailed account of her Journey to CHOOKTOPIA 🙂
“After moving to a quarter-acre block in Canberra’s Ainslie, I decided it was time to realise my dream of having chooks. It took a few months to convince my partner that he shared my vision, but eventually he got on board, and Chooktopia represents the fruits of our (but mostly his!) labours, taking 4 months of off-and-on weekend work. Thank you Clinton you are a star!
Recycled corrugated iron sheets are dug in to around 40cm, to prevent foxes from digging underneath. They are then affixed to star pickets.
The basic frame (including laying box, LHS) is constructed from recycled timber and corrugated iron pieces. These were left over from a shed that was on the block when we bought it, and which Clinton dismantled.
More corrugated iron was attached to the frame to form the structure, which has an insulated ceiling, and “home made” wall insulation, in the form of rags stuffed into the curves of the corrugated iron! The floor and ceiling are simply sheets of masonite.
To make the frame of the chook yard, 2 x 3m lengths of PVC polypipe were joined in the middle and then attached to the star pickets, creating a lovely arching structure. (Witness me being helpful!)
The PVC was then wired together, to create an even stronger framework, over which we draped chicken wire. Overall, around 50 metres of 900mm-wide chicken wire was used.
The laying box features a hinged door, so I can access the eggs without having to enter the enclosure. This is in the rear of the box, rather than the more usual top of the box, to allow enough room for the overhang of the corrugated iron roof within the enclosure.
Next step was the door, which Clinton constructed beautifully out of new timber and pet wire (like chicken wire but with a finer weave). It is attached with two strong hinges to prevent it sagging in the future, and bolts onto a piece of wood attached to the pole you can see behind Clinton.
Here we see the structure in its entirety, with Clinton adding a few finishing touches.
The next step – to add chickens!
I saw an advertisement by a woman selling rehabilitated ex-battery hens, and we thought it would be a great way to start our venture, so we brought home two crossbred white hens. We will also hope to add a couple of Australorps soon.
The next day, which was quite warm and sunny, we noticed that they were quite keen on the shady areas of the run, so we added some shade-cloth, which you can see here. Eventually we will grow a deciduous vine along this side, which is the northern aspect, to allow them plenty of sunshine in winter time.
In this pic you can also see the inside of the coop, which has wood shavings on the floor and cherry branches for perches. The first night the chickens slept together in a laying box, so to discourage this we blocked them off at night, and added a temporary ramp up to the perches. They got the hang of it within a few days, and now perch happily.