If you’ve ever tried to move a flock of poultry, you’ve probably noticed that chickens don’t respond as well to herding as ducks or turkeys. While chickens do move with and identify with their flock, they just don’t stick together in a tight unit. It seems that chickens have the individualism dial turned up just a bit higher than other farm birds. So when we need to walk our pasture raised chickens to fresh grass, we’ve found a little tool that helps.
My first idea was to purchase some cheerleading pom poms. Although they were effective, the ones I found were very poorly made and fell apart within days. So I started thinking about how I could make an eye-catching herding tool from materials we had on hand.
We’ve been using these chicken herding flags for about four years now. Each one is made from strips of a garbage bag (the thick 50 gallon contractor-grade bags). The strips are attached to one end of a 24″ pieces of 3/4″ PVC conduit, and secured with zip ties through a 1/4″ hole drilled in the pipe.
While I move the shelter with the tractor, AJ comes behind and flaps the flags at the back of the coop. All the fluttering and motion works well to scoot the chickens along. After a few pasture rotations to new grass, the chickens seem to figure out where they are supposed to go. Most of them get excited and start crowding forward without much need to wave the flags. But there are always a few stragglers who insist on running the wrong way, and the flags help sort them out.
As far as durability goes, our oldest flags are four years old and just starting to wear out. I’m surprised the poly has lasted this long in the sun and wind. But for only a few cents of materials and a few minutes of time we can make replacements, so they don’t owe me anything.