I really dislike keeping the chickens in a coop. They should be out scratching and picking around the yard. My three little silkies are loose in the yard but I never get any eggs because the Magpie birds we have in the neighborhood eat them all before I have a chance to collect them. In order to get eggs from our new hens they most be confined to the coop. So, like the saying goes, if you can't bring Mohammad to the mountain you bring the mountain to Mohammad.
This week I started a new layer of "stuff" from the barn. I'm almost always cleaning the straw, hay, and sheep poo out of the sheep's side of the barn. So it goes to the chickens to give them something to scratch and pick threw. If it's kept moist it starts to break down.
With all the rain lately the last bunch of stuff I put in here was ready to be cleaned out. Can you believe in a two week period we've had over two inches of rain at our place, and the Reno area gets 7 inches of rain per year on a good year!
The hens have been using their roto-tilling skills to break the organic matter to a fine texture. With the big rains if I dig in the soil the chickens have a new project of finding earth worms and keeping their numbers under control.
At the feed store last week I found a few more pullet chicks that were looking for a home. Sort of left overs, poor gals. There are two Rhode Island Reds, one Buff Orpington and a Wyandotte. There was no place to put them until I discovered an old rabbit cage works great. Scrap hay from around the hay bales on the bottom a bowl for food and a bowl of dirt from the yard so they can hone their scratching skills before they are turned in with the others. By the end of the day the hay and poo have fallen threw the wire bottom and you just start over.