Sunday 14 October 2012

Free ranging

We took the decision some time ago to let our hens go free range on the allotment. We have a large chicken run but so many of the hens had become expert at getting out, but returning to the chicken run later that we decided our fears they would wander off and never be seen again were unfounded. Since then, they have learnt where all the gaps are in the hedge and now head off every day to wander around all the allotments in the area. The other allotment holders are happy with this at the moment. The hens provide entertainment and also get rid of bugs, slugs and snails. However, once people start planting crops, the hens will need to be confined to our own allotment as they will damage any plants. Nevertheless, anyone digging up a patch on an allotment often finds they are accompanied by a large number of hens which help them dig the patch as well. The bonus at the moment is that I am hardly having to feed the hens. They come back to the henhouses in the evening stuffed full.

Today we took the decision to let the ducks go free range. We have had them a month and they have settled in. We created a temporary duck run on the part of the allotment which turns to mud every time it rains. The run includes the pond. Today we removed the fencing so the ducks are now free to wander around the allotment. So off they wandered, always as a group of 7. They made a couple of visits to the apiary, walked past the manure heap and hung about next to the gate for a while. But their favourite site seems to be bed 3, next to the pond, and therefore next to where the duck run was. The bed still has a beetroot crop to pick but the ducks seem to like it as it catches the sun.

Meanwhile, we now have six duck eggs. I think only one duck is laying at the moment but at one egg a day, the description of the khaki campbells as "prolific layers" appears to be quite accurate.

1 comment:

Susanna Di Milo said...

I used to keep hens, but now live in a flat I did wonder about keeping them on a nearby allotment but then I am not able to give them the time these days. But they are great to watch. Its nice to pop in now and then and read what you are doing.