Keeping chickens at school has proven to be very rewarding and a lot easier than we first thought. We are very happy to say that 2 yrs on our 6 girls are still laying, providing lots of entertainment and education for everyone involved at the school. We were quite nervous at the thought of having to look after live animals at school, knowing that we wouldn’t always be there and the thought of vandals and foxes, but with he help of many hands, big and small we have maintained a beautiful space for our school.
Our school chicken coop is designed into 2 fox proof sections with wire meshed floors and corrugated panels that are dug deep into the ground. The main housing ensures that the chickens are safely locked away on weekends and overnight . The mesh walls of the coop allow sunshine in and the solid walls provide protection from wind and rain. Two steel security doors are the only access into the coop. The other section forms a chicken run, where they can stretch their wings, relax in the sun and enjoy a dust bath.
The coop was built by a school family and a grant of $1000 was accessed to purchase all the materials.
To help reduce our schools carbon footprint, the chicken coop was built with as many recycled materials as possible. All of the metal sheeting for the roof and fox proof walls were salvedged from the old school shed, the timber crates were once used as shipping containers, the chicken lay box was recused from an old chicken farm that had closed down, the gates came from a recycled wreckers yard, the chicken perches are from fallen trees & their water dish rests upon an old tree stump. Inside the chickens lay boxes we use a mix of shredded paper from the classrooms and straw.
We have 6 Hy – Line Brown chickens which are very friendly. They were chosen for their easy going nature and adaptability towards their environment.
Our chickens like to eat a special formula that is designed to give them all the nutrients they need to keep them strong, healthy and off course lay eggs!
They also like to eat caterpillars, slaters and snails from the veggie patch. The students are allowed to put these through the mesh wall and watch them scratch and forage for them.
Chickens like to take dust bathes, they like to ruffle their feathers with dirt which helps to keep them clean and free from mites. They like to lay in the sun and sleep.
They like their home to be a quiet place where they can relax and not worry about loud noises, this is why our garden is a ‘QUIET AREA” so as not to disturb their health and wellbeing. They get frightened from loud noises and banging.
A special garden was created to grow green food specifically for the girls. It is a mix nasturtiums, varieties of peas and grasses, purslane, spinach and silverbeet. The green feed provides them with lots of fresh produce to scratch through. Every so often we let the girls out into the garden bed providing lots of entertainment for the kids and the girls get to fill their bellies and scratch throught the dirt looking for bugs. This also helps to keep our garden pests at bay.
They lay their eggs in the morning between 7am and 10am and like it nice and quiet so they can concentrate. We find that if the students get too noisy egg laying will be later in the day once school is finished.
When collecting eggs we use recycled egg cartons and then sell 6 packs fresh to families to help buy the special food that they need.
The Environmental Team take care of the chickens, help and show students what do and what not to do and to report any reasonable issues to the principle or Green Thumbs teachers.
Their important jobs include:
1. fresh water every day
2. droppings, paper and hay are to be scooped up and put into the WORM FARM.
3. shredded paper is to be collected from the office and placed into the clean lay boxes, with any spare amount of paper put into the open air compost or worm farm.
Students are required to wear gloves at all times when cleaning the coop and always wash their hands and of course check their shoes for poop!
School holiday rosters are set up for families to take a few days each of caring for the girls and do the duties required. The families take home fresh eggs and have a free range picking session in the veggie patch as well. We are so grateful to the families that help care for them over the holidays.
Keeping chickens at school hass proven to be very rewarding for everyone involved and we are so happy that our 6 girls are still laying and provide us with hours of entertainment.