Keep Backyard Chickens From Escaping And Destroying The Backyard

We’ve had our chickens for about 18 months now and they are a joy in most cases.  Raising chickens has been rewarding in many ways: We get the freshest eggs that are healthier than store-bought, the poop supercharges our compost and soil, and they are immensely entertaining.  Nothing warms the heart more than calling for your flock and to see them come running.  I’m sure every person who raises backyard chickens knows this special feeling. With all the joy our flock brings us, they have also presented us with some unanticipated problems.  They destroyed areas of our lawn over the winter and they were a challenge to keep in the backyard.  I’ll show you how to keep backyard chickens from escaping and destroying the backyard.

Keeping Your Chickens From Escaping

When it comes to escaping,  I was curious about the chickens being able to fly out of the yard.  We have an 8-foot hedge around the backyard and a fence on one side. Since they have been outside it has not been a problem and we chose not to clip our chickens’ wings.

My next task was to keep them from walking through a hole in the hedge.  I ended up putting poultry netting all around the perimeter of our hedge after trimming.  I assumed it would fill in and we wouldn’t notice it as much.  It worked great for a while.  One day we called to give the chickens some cabbage and 3 of our 5 came running.  We found the other two in the front yard.  I checked the perimeter and could not find a hole or break in the poultry netting.  We had used several rolls of the one-inch netting that was 3 foot tall.  Where one roll ended and another started, I had used tie wire to join the sections securely.

I could not figure out how the girls had escaped!  And they continued to escape and roam the alley behind the house and stroll through the neighbor’s yard.  I would come out of the house and our chickens would be hanging out in the front yard, nibbling on whatever they could find.  It was beyond frustrating.

One day while working in the backyard I finally witnessed a chicken escape:  One of the chickens was casually pecking on the ground next to the poultry netting.  She just continued pecking and essentially lifted up the netting from the bottom and walked under the fence! The fence was originally secured tight against the ground and taught. After pecking around the perimeter for months there were sections where the chickens had essentially lowered the grade just slightly so there was enough space to fit a chicken if they had their head down and pushed on through.  Quite the revelation!  I needed to secure the netting to the ground as well and hopefully, the girls would stay in the yard.

Landscape Staples To The Rescue

Keep Backyard Chickens From Escaping And Destroying The Backyard-landscape staple

The solution to my problem was landscaping staples.  These are around 6 inches long and are for a variety of uses but mostly to hold sod in place when installing a lawn.  Google landscaping staples to find a place to purchase some.  I installed one every 2 to 3 feet by hammering the staple into the ground securing the poultry netting against the ground.  We haven’t had a chicken escape the perimeter since we installed these.  I am a very happy camper.

Keep Backyard Chickens From Escaping And Destroying The Backyard Part Two:  Save Your Lawn!

Chickens will scratch just about anything to the point of scratching away your lawn.  To keep your backyard chickens from destroying the backyard you can do a few things:

  • Don’t mow as much and keep your lawn longer than you’re used to.  The chickens do less damage this way.
  • Fence off areas of the yard that you can’t bear to lose

Another solution I came up with is a movable screen that prevents your backyard chickens from destroying the backyard where ever they are placed.

I started out with a basic frame out of 2×2 lumber that was approximately the size of some hardware cloth I had lying around.

While we are talking about hardware cloth and poultry netting, I can not recommend some decent wire cutters or mini bolt cutters enough…they are absolutely essential for me and raising backyard chickens.

Once I had my frames screwed together, I attached the hardware cloth to the frames with screws and cut off the excess.


I place these around the backyard where our chickens have done damage to the lawn.  A little seed and some time and the backyard trouble spots in the lawn have grown back since the chickens can’t scratch the ground under the frames.

There you have it, a few ideas to keep backyard chickens from escaping and destroying the backyard.

Mealworms-Crack For Chickens!

If you have chickens around your house, you probably know about mealworms.  These crunchy dried worms are the secret (along with fresh fruit) in getting chickens to do what we want them to!  If the birds get out of the yard, or in the garden somehow, mealworms will grab their attention and they will come a-running!

Mealworms….chicken crack.

Check out a short video of our girls going nuts for mealworms:

A Unique Way To Cool Off Your Chickens

When temperatures start to soar in the summer, you need to find ways to keep your chickens cool.  Make sure there is plenty of water available to your girls.  High moisture treats like watermelon can go a long way to cool off chickens.  When it gets really hot, I start using the freezer to help keep the chickens happy.  One thing our birds like is frozen corn.  I’ll take a can of corn and empty it into a piece of tupperware, freeze it and pop it out and give it to the birds.  It takes a while to get a piece of corn, but helps cool them off and keeps them occupied.  Ice cubes in their water helps quite a bit.  Lately we came up with a unique and easy way to implement this by freezing their water bottle…

Cool Off Your Chickens With A Freezable Waterer

We have a bunch of nipple waterers for the chickens all over the yard.  Their main source of water is a gravity fed system that I posted instructions to here.  In addition to this we have smaller individual bottles here and there.  It seems like the birds almost prefer the individual bottles outside the run.  One of the easiest things to do is to get a plastic bottle of water and install the poultry nipple in the actual bottle cap, drill a hole on the bottom of the bottle and hang it upside down.  I like to hang these in bicycle water bottle holders mounted in various places.  Here’s a few pictures:

water bottle chicken waterer

water bottle chicken waterer

Here’s the sweet part….we have a few bottles and use a regular bottle cap and freeze a half full bottle of water.  Make sure the water doesn’t leak out the hole in the bottom while it freezes, pull the frozen bottle out of the freezer and switch the cap to the nipple cap.  Top the bottle off with water and you’re good to go!

cool off chickens


Gravity Fed DIY Chicken Waterer

gravity fed diy pvc chicken waterer

I’m not sure what to call this-a poultry waterer, pvc waterer, gravity fed pvc waterer, automatic chicken waterer?  How about we just call it a chicken waterer with some nice advantages…

After raising chickens for a while, most people realize the benefit of getting the waterer off the ground of the chicken coop.  By having the water source above your chicken’s head, the water stays cleaner (no poop or bedding in the water) and doesn’t get knocked over and all over the coop.  Almost all chickens can be trained to use a poultry nipple waterer-a screw in nozzle found at most feed stores that screws into pvc pipe or the bottom of a plastic bucket and lets water flow when the nozzle is pecked at.  Chickens are attracted to the bright red color and learn how to use them in no time.  I installed a gravity fed watering system for our birds that uses poultry nipples in pvc pipe being fed from a food grade 3 gallon bucket.  It holds enough water for several days at least and has the advantage of being able to disassemble completely for cleaning.

Chicken Waterer Parts List

For this project I used:

  • 2 nipple waterers (enough for 6 birds)
  • 3/4 inch pvc pipe
  • 3/4 inch pvc endcap
  • 3/4 inch pvc threaded connector
  • Pvc cement
  • Food grade square bucket with lid
  • Threaded brass faucet
  • A bulkhead fitting
  • A section of garden hose and threaded fittings
  • teflon tape

All my couplers were 3/4 inch to accommodate standard garden hoses.  The bucket I used was square which made for an easy installation of the bulkhead on the vertical sidewall.  I’m not too sure if mounting the bulkhead/faucet assembly on the side wall would work on a standard 5 gallon bucket because of the curve of the bucket.  You could mount it on the flat bottom of the bucket if you had a way to hang the bucket from above.  Through researching food grade buckets online, I discovered that all plastic containers labeled HDPE are food grade.  This can ease your mind if you can’t verify if a container is food grade or not.

Chicken Waterer Assembly

pvc poultry waterer

I used a drill press at my work to cut the appropriate hole in the bucket with a large paddle bit.  After marking the pipe, I drilled the holes for the screw in poultry nipples.  The drill press and a sharp brad point drill bit allowed me to get the holes and consequently the nipples in line.

I used a bolt with the same basic thread pitch as the nipples to start a thread in the holes of the pvc pipe.  Once I could start the poultry nipple in the pvc, I wrapped the threads with some teflon tape and screwed them into the pvc pipe with a crescent wrench:

poultry nipple diy waterer

After gluing the end fittings on with the pvc glue, the actual watering assembly was complete:pvcpolutrynipple

The bulkhead basically screws in place:

bucket chicken waterer

A little teflon tape and the faucet gets screwed onto the bulkhead:

chicken waterer

I cut a section of garden hose and attached the appropriate couplers and basically screwed the whole thing together.


I wired up the pipe in the coop temporarily since our chickens aren’t full grown yet.  When they are all grown, I’ll make a more permanent mounting system.  I placed the bucket on a cinder block so it was higher than the pipe and let gravity do its thing:

gravity fed diy pvc chicken waterer

Here is a link to my previous post on the chicken coop.  There second video contains a quick shot of the waterer in action.  Our coop is coming along nicely and we are enjoying every minute of it!

The Finished Backyard Chicken Coop

Well it’s been a while since I posted anything  of late so I figured I would do a quick update on our backyard chickens.  They have been out of the brooder (and the house!) for about 6 weeks now.  The heat lamp has been removed, and the chickens use both of the roosts inside the coop nightly.  The chicken’s combs are just starting to come in and they are getting quite big!  We have also been letting them run freely twice a day for an hour or two.  The birds have acclimated so nicely and it is a real joy to just hang out and watch them peck and forage for bugs and slugs.  I will post a video in the future of the flock free ranging.  Most importantly, I completed a run that is attached to the coop and we have a dust bath as well.  I am pretty close to done on the coop and am thrilled to have it complete.  The only thing I might add right now is a pvc gravity feeder…

Here’s the first video I posted of the coop:



And here’s another current video of the coop with the attached run:

Thanks for all the great input on our Facebook page!  Check out the new chapters in our backyard chicken farming adventure and share with your friends !



Fun With Backyard Chickens

Fun With Backyard Chickens

We’ve talked about raising chickens at our house on and off for years now.  Every spring, the subject comes up around Easter.  As I became more aware of the health benefits of pastured eggs, I started to seriously  consider raising chickens in my backyard.  Besides access to the healthiest eggs I could get, we’ve heard stories from other chicken raising friends of how rewarding raising chickens can be.

We had an old outdoor birdcage with a cedar shake roof in the backyard that I thought we might be able to repurpose into a coop.  After checking it out, the roof was the only thing worth saving and a coop was designed around the existing roof.  We decided on a condo style coop-a 2 level coop with a roosting area above an enclosed run.  An additional enclosed run would be added onto the structure at a later date before our chickens were full grown.  To conserve space, I decided upon an exterior nesting box for our birds to lay their eggs in.   As the coop was nearing completion, it was time to get some chicks…

Backyard Chickens:Baby Chicks In The Brooder

In early April we brought home five baby chicks.  We settled upon three Rhode Island Reds and two Golden Sexlinks.  These should be good all around birds in terms of personality, adaptability to weather and very productive egg layers.  We kept them inside in a makeshift brooder consisting of a large storage tote with a hardware cloth lid.  After about a week, we transitioned to pine shavings for bedding inside our brooder and quickly moved to a hanging feeder and waterer.  For the first week, the chicks were on paper towels and clean up was quick and easy.  Once we  transitioned to pine shavings, they got everywhere including in the water and food.  Chicken poop started getting in these as well.  I made a hanging waterer out of a nalgene bottle and a nipple waterer you can find at feed stores.  Getting your birds’ food and water off the ground is essential from all I’ve read and it really helps cut down on extra cleaning and refilling.

Chickens and cat on brooderOur cat loved watching the babies…

The Coop Gets Finished

After several weeks, it was obvious the chicks were going to need to go out in the coop before they got all their feathers since space was starting to become an issue.  The night time temperatures were a little too cold for the chicks, so they were going to need a heat lamp at night.  I wanted to have an outlet inside our coop eventually for the winter time, but now I was forced to come up with a solution before the coop was inhabited.  I ended up running electricity from our garage to the coop and ran conduit inside the coop (no pecking the wires!).  I also used totally enclosed plastic housings for the ground fault interrupter receptacle as chicken waste will eventually rot metal housings.  To minimize dust at the receptacle, I installed an in-use cover.  We painted the coop to match the house, and I installed a beautiful fused glass window in the door to the coop that Mrs. Wellinformedliving had made.  Here’s a picture of the finished coop:

Chicken Coop Backyard Chickens

A close up of the art glass window:

Backyard Chickens Art Glass Window

A view from inside the coop:


Here’s a view of the inside, you can see the GFCI on the left, one of the roosts in the back and one of the water bottle waterers.

Backyard Chickens Chicken Coop

And the coop at night:

backyard chickens chicken coop at night

backyard chickens chicken coop at night

The chicks have been in their new home for several weeks now and have adapted quite well.  They have learned to use the ramp between levels and their new gravity feed watering system.  As they grow and get older we’ll remove the heat lamp and give them some outside free range time each day.  All in all this has been an extremely rewarding experience so far.

backyard chickens

(Our cat is watching from the plant bed)

How To Keep Salad Greens As Fresh As Possible

how to store washed salad leaves

Bagged or boxed pre washed salad greens used to be a sore spot with me.  They offer great convenience, but more often than not they would rot before I could use them.  Imagine coming home from work exhausted and deciding to make a simple salad for dinner.  You open up the box of greens you bought 2 days ago to find convenient organic slimy rotting baby kale.  Yum.  What a letdown.  That quick meal idea is no longer an option when you needed to use it most.

Over the years I have moved the greens to different parts of the fridge searching for the optimum location to maintain freshness.  I have tried adding or removing air to the bag before i sealed it.  I tried rubber bands, twist ties and chip clips in an effort to find the perfect way to seal the opened bag.  Those huge plastic clam shells full of convenient organic expensive greens were a no go-they lasted about a day on me before it looked like a snail had gotten into my mixed field greens.

I stumbled upon one of the most simple and easiest ways to keep those salad greens fresh.  Washed salad greens now last at least a week in my fridge.  I even buy those big honking clam shells now without the anxiety that used to come with to store washed salad leaves


All you need is a sheet of paper towel. Place a sheet of paper towel in the bag or the box of salad and close it up.  Seriously its that easy.

how to store washed salad leaves

Like I mentioned earlier, greens keep at least a week for me when I do this.  The paper towel absorbs excess moisture as far as I can tell.  Try it and let us know how it worked for you on our Facebook page:

how to store washed salad leaves