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Chicken "Yard"

post #1 of 4
Thread Starter 
My girls have quite a nice run attached to their coop. When I'm home I let them free range in the backyard, however they are destroying it (I'm constantly raking bark back in flower beds, etc).

I'm thinking about taking on a spring project and turning the whole area where their coop is into their own yard that they can free range in instead of having the whole backyard.

Which brings me to my question. Right now the surrounding area is dirt and large patio stones leading to coop door. I was thinking of laying pea gravel and making some foraging boxes that they can pick at. Figured the pea gravel would look nicer than dirt (the coop is adorable but the area surrounding is so BLAH). Would pea gravel be ok? Should I consider something good else? Do any of you have pictures of areas your girls free range in??

Hubby isn't a chicken guy ... these are my girls. I want my yard to be enjoyable but I want them to love their yard too. Help???
post #2 of 4
Quote:
Originally Posted by SurbFarmGirl View Post

My girls have quite a nice run attached to their coop. When I'm home I let them free range in the backyard, however they are destroying it (I'm constantly raking bark back in flower beds, etc).

I'm thinking about taking on a spring project and turning the whole area where their coop is into their own yard that they can free range in instead of having the whole backyard.

Which brings me to my question. Right now the surrounding area is dirt and large patio stones leading to coop door. I was thinking of laying pea gravel and making some foraging boxes that they can pick at. Figured the pea gravel would look nicer than dirt (the coop is adorable but the area surrounding is so BLAH). Would pea gravel be ok? Should I consider something good else? Do any of you have pictures of areas your girls free range in??

Hubby isn't a chicken guy ... these are my girls. I want my yard to be enjoyable but I want them to love their yard too. Help???

I'll add the pic I have of my 'daytime run' that my chickens access from their coop/run via a chicken tunnel. I set it up for the reasons you mention, but mainly because we have many hawks/eagles. I only have 4 chickens, so I really don't want to lose one, which is 25%.

I also really didn't want to have my potted plants, and patio destroyed, quite frankly, though that is a secondary reason.

 

It has deer fencing around the sides, and aviary netting over the top. In this case, a tree is the center, but you could also set up one or more 4x4" as the center posts (if you need netting overhead). There are 4 grazing pens, seeded with a mix that is good for chickens. 

I did spread gravel (and have since spread some more), thinly. It's best to spread it during dry weather, apparently, so it doesn't immediately sink in. It isn't pea gravel, I picked the 5/8" minus gravel, because I was using it for pathways, too. 

There is a good article on BYC about 'preventing a muddy run' that I found helpful. They recommended a slightly different sized gravel, but this one has worked well for me.

 

They have access to a dirt/shrub area off to the right (lots of digging going on back there).

The chicken tunnel to the coop is off to the left.

I can take a few more pics in the next couple of days if that would help. :)

 

Good luck! 


Edited by lynnehd - 11/5/15 at 10:23pm
post #3 of 4
Thread Starter 

Wow that is perfect! I also only have 4 girls and I love them dearly ... but hosing chicken poop off my patio all the time is getting harder to do with the time change :(

 

Here is a picture of our coop and run.

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The stuff to the right has since been cleared out. I'd like to give them more of their own yard .... there is a white 4ft fence where I am standing to take the picture. They are fine in their run for the most part (though I know they miss their yard time but with the time change it's dark when I get home). If I were to just lay some boxes with seed (clover maybe?) against the wall and filled in the rest of the dirt area with small gravel it should be ok right?  They currently dust bathe between the wall the their run when they are out LOL. The dirt is pretty fine over there. I wouldn't need to cover it ... they would still only be in it when I was home. Anything else they would need?? I'm in the City ... so I have a neighbor on the right side. I just want them to be happy :(

post #4 of 4
Quote:
Originally Posted by SurbFarmGirl View Post
 

Wow that is perfect! I also only have 4 girls and I love them dearly ... but hosing chicken poop off my patio all the time is getting harder to do with the time change :(

 

Here is a picture of our coop and run.

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The stuff to the right has since been cleared out. I'd like to give them more of their own yard .... there is a white 4ft fence where I am standing to take the picture. They are fine in their run for the most part (though I know they miss their yard time but with the time change it's dark when I get home). If I were to just lay some boxes with seed (clover maybe?) against the wall and filled in the rest of the dirt area with small gravel it should be ok right?  They currently dust bathe between the wall the their run when they are out LOL. The dirt is pretty fine over there. I wouldn't need to cover it ... they would still only be in it when I was home. Anything else they would need?? I'm in the City ... so I have a neighbor on the right side. I just want them to be happy :(

 

That should work well. Just make their outside area as large as you can manage, and leave an area free that they like for dust bathing. BTW, mine were able to fly over a 40" fence w/o a problem, so just keep an eye on that. If you're going to incorporate the cleared area to the right, that's a nice size!

And there's no reason you can't still let them out in your yard for an hour or so before dusk at times, when you are with them. If you go out in the yard and start working in the dirt, they'll likely be right beside you! That might be only 2-3x per week. If you do it the hour before dusk, it's easier to get them back to their coop.

 

I made the grazing frames; plans are on The Garden Coop web site. Two boxes are about 5'x3', two are longer and narrower because they fit a certain space. The plans suggest cross pieces for support, then covered with 1/2" hardware mesh to keep the chickens from pulling the seedlings by the roots. It works, because they mostly just pull the tops off.

The fellow who recommends the frame says that his last 'about 3 months', then need to be reseeded. 

 

I decided to get an online seed mix. While not practical for pastures, it works well for me as a small time back yard chicken owner.

 I don't need more than about 5# for the year, and so big bags of clover, grasses, etc., would probably go to waste. So this is convenient and worth it for me.

It's a great mix; very good germination rate and an excellent mix of seeds.

 

https://hancockseed.com/hancocks-happy-hen-forage-seed-mix-5-lb-bag-976.html

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