We have two large chicken groups, which we keep mainly for eggs. One set lives in the forest garden rows that haven’t yet been planted. Their job is to eat bugs out of the compost piles and to spread that compost once it’s ready. The other group lives in a pen by the barn. They have access to underneath the rabbit cages, and they are constantly scratching through the manure for maggots and discarded food. Each day, we let one of the two flocks out to free-range.
We have a few hens who are almost constantly setting nests or raising chicks. Once they are setting, we put them into the nesting/hatching stall of the barn, along with any duck that is setting. After the chicks have grown a little, the family gets moved to the pen by the barn. The hen will generally not allow her chicks to free-range for a while longer, keeping them under the rabbit cages and teaching them how to scratch for food.
The guineas pretty much free range all the time. They have a huge territory, well outside our own fence-line. Their job is to hunt for bugs like grasshoppers. They roost in the barn and eat a little of the feed that we put out each day, but generally they are pretty autonomous.
Right now, we have several guineas that have nests under various Juniper trees around the place. We also have a chicken that is setting a nest of guinea eggs and another hen that has just hatched out some chicks.
Chickens and Guineas