Permaculture in Action

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Out to Pasture

Our hens are hard workers. They scratch and poo and clean up the insects, so that we can plant into the beds after they move onto the next bed. But as they age and start to slow down and their egg laying days are coming to an end what do we do with them  Well we literally put them out to pasture.

Many years ago Mark was in business as a landscape gardener. He would design and maintain edible gardens. He had a trailer for his tools and it has been left idle in the paddock ever since he left that business behind.

Mark set to work converting the trailer into a mobile chook house. The floor was rusted out and needed to be replaced with a more open mesh so that manure could fall through and fertilize the paddocks. We were lucky to pick up an old animal (possibly rabbit) cage from the dump shop that was just perfect and a fraction of the new price. It also came with a watering system which would come in handy.                                                                                                                                       
The nesting box was made from some salvaged shelving and an old plastic toy box that someone had left here. The lid became the roof of the nesting box which can be accessed from the outside. The sides of the box had ridges which were perfect for a ramp up to the nests.



 The roof was made from insulated coolroom panels and the sides clad in heavy duty shade cloth. The roof catches rain water which is stored in the blue drum and then gravity feeds down to a self waterer inside the trailer and nipples under the trailer for when the chooks are outside.


A section of the tail gate was cut to make a ramp. The chooks spend the day outside and are locked away at night to keep them safe from foxes.
Here are the girls out in the paddock. It can be moved around quite easily and the chooks really enjoy their freedom.
Here is a hen drinking from one of the nipples under the trailer.
Our hens enjoy a peaceful retirement after the great work they have done for us in the mandala market garden and we still get eggs from these old girls.
All up the cost for this upcycle was under $70 and made use of lots of resources we had on hand.


  1. Very impressive, nice work Mark. It is inspiring to see such good use of recycled bits and pieces. I really like how it has its own water tank.

    Sadly I don't have a pasture for which my girls could retire to. We will probably just keep them working the mandala until they pass on. I will miss the eggs though.

  2. I love it :) well done - brilliant recycling of a rusty item and chicken manure wherever you want / need it. VERY cool!

  3. What a great project and a wonderful retirement cottage for your older girls. Ours tend to swan around with the others although we've lost two in the past two weeks. Great work Mark!

  4. How lovely for your chickens and great for the pastures too. We have a retired cow at our place , she is 17 years old now and still roams free .I wish all chickens had lives like the chickens at your farm.

  5. Great job Mark! I bet those chickens are having a lovely retirement!

  6. This is the best thing I've seen all morning.
    I wish I had the space to do this with our old gerls. I have 9 chooks at present who only give us 3 or 4 eggs a day. I'd love to be able to increase the flock and utilise the oldies like this.
    Hang on..... I DO have a front yard.....

  7. Well done. What a lovely place for the girls to live out their retirement.

    1. And I'll be showing You Know Who these pictures!

  8. I'm so impressed! I'll be passing this on to chook raising friends!

  9. Have just found this post on your amazing chook mobile. I have an old trailer and have been looking for someone who has done just this. Wondering how it is going a few years down the track? Any changes you would make in hindsight? Is the mesh big enough for the manure to fall through? Can it be moved using people power? Love the laying box, what a great use of stuff! Would love some tips.
    Rozzie, 28 Degrees South