This year we have decided to try out a new idea, we always bring our chickens in off of the grass where they follow the cows around.
This serves a few purposes, they are closer for us to tend to during the winter, it gets them and us off the grass and lets it recover from all the foot fall, and it keeps the chickens safe from hungry predators.
This year though we are giving them new winter quarters, we have made an enclosure around two of our compost heaps. These are normally full by this time of year and are just left to overwinter and finish the composting process. The compost is then ready to be used during the spring to enrich raised beds and for planting seeds or cuttings in to.
By overwintering the chickens on top of the compost they constantly scratch around in the compost looking for worms grubs and mycelium to eat. The compost benefit from the constant turning and the addition of the chickens detritus, which adds even more nutrients to the compost for the plants in the spring.
The chickens benefit from the safety of the enclosure, the heat of the compost and the additional nutrition they glean from within the compost. We benefit from reduced feed costs for the chickens while still obtaining great quality eggs all winter long.