Wednesday 18 October 2023

Hefting Chickens

 The term hefting normally refers to sheep. In some highland sheep you can buy them "hefted" where they already know their range and boundaries, taught by the older sheep in the flock. It stops them wondering too far on common land. 

I use the term with chickens, rightly or wrongly, to mean they know where to roost at night. Something they often have to be trained to do. 

It's a fairly simple process, where you keep the chickens in a coop for pen for a few days. They'll then see this as their home and go back there at night. 

You can teach them by shutting them in their pen each night, but often for the first few nights you have to go around and try and find them. I find this way of shutting them in far easier and safer as far as predators are concerned. The coop is big enough for them, I make sure they have plenty of food and water, as well as that the pen needs to be well ventilated and allow enough light in. 

Last week we shuffled our young birds about a bit, moving birds on as they have gotten bigger. The kids got involved and it's made a really nice and fun video. Give it a watch and let me know what you think. 

Do you ever use the term Heft or Hefting?


  1. We have tossed around the idea of raising a handful of meat chickens and building a coop for them but I like the idea of one that is somewhat portable like that one. It would allow me to build it cheaper since I don't have to be concerned with overwintering. And it is just about the right size since we are only allowed to have I think six hens inside city limits. I might have to make it just a little longer.

    Thinking about it, it wouldn't be too hard to put one end on casters that pop down when needed to allow for it to be wheeled anywhere even easier.

    1. Yeah a wheel system would help, but I've always just dragged this one. You guys have access to cheap cattle panels and I've seen some great pens using those panels bent into a hoop. I like the ark for a broody or sick pen, we used to keep three ex battery hens in it when I first built it, but it wasn't quite big enough. We lived in the middle of a village then and I ended up with far too many chickens in the garden! It was fun though.

  2. I've come across "hefting" for the free-range sheep on the Northumberland moors and Yorkshire dales, but never before for chickens.

    1. Yeah, I think I'm just borrowing it from them really, but the word keeps it's meaning, it shows them where home is.


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