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The Chunnel

June 4, 2015 6 comments

chunnelNo, not that Chunnel!  I’m talking about a different kind of chunnel – a chicken tunnel.  

Basically a twist on the Salatin-style chicken tractor, that allows you to let the chickens run through your garden.

Ian and Taya found a guy’s YouTube video from Australia who runs his “chooks” – apparently Aussie for chickens – in these tunnels, they are moveable, lightweight, and best of all – NARROW.  This allows us to run the tunnels between the rows in the garden; to keep the weeds down and best of all control the bugs.  They install quickly and only cost a roll of fencing to build.

The chickens love them  they spend the day roaming the various interconnected tunnels, eating grass, weeds, bugs; and sadly a couple of vegetable plants.  We learned the hard way that if they can reach the seedlings thru the holes in the wire, they will devour a plant in minutes.  Apparently chickens really like jalapeño pepper plants – who knew.

We solved the problem by covering the sections of tunnel right next to the little seedlings with plastic.  We staked it into the ground with some spare bits of wire; which coincidentally is how we secure the tunnels to the ground.  Using old scrap pieces of welded wire fencing, we cut out “staple” shaped pieces.  We then straddle the wires in the tunnel with the staple, and push it into the ground.  Done about every 6 inches, this makes a very secure run for the chickens.  For problem areas, we put a brick or broken cinder block to weigh it down.

We’ve built a perimeter chunnel around the main part of the garden, kind of a no-man’s-land for insects.  It seems to be working pretty well, the only attacks we’ve had have been the cabbage moth larvae, but they were a problem before the chunnels.  In addition, we’ve run them between the rows, sporadically – leaving the capability to move the chunnel to a different row, by opening a new access spot, and connecting a section of wire.

There’s a few “dead end” chunnels – basically runs where we haven’t planted anything yet, but are sending chickens down to destroy pests, weeds, and scratch the ground up for us. 

This whole maze of chicken tunnels lead back to a small coop, built entirely from pallets and scrap wood – with nesting boxes, a sliding door, and a hinged roof to access the nests.  After the first day, the birds learned to go home at dark, and now we simply slide the door down, and they are secure.  We have not had a single loss to hawk, raccoon or possum, so we’re declaring the chunnels a success.

We’re still fine-tuning and experimenting, and may post some more on the chunnel system in the future.

Until next time…..

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