New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Plants for chicken run?

post #1 of 35
Thread Starter 

I'm new to this site and to chicken ownership and while I've researched most topics concerning chicks (food, etc.), I can't find an answer to what I'm looking for.  We've just finished building a large chicken run (30' x 60') that is surrounded by pine trees and oaks so there is plenty of shade and sun for the chicks and lots of mulch.  I want to landscape around the chicken wire fence as well as inside the run where there aren't any trees, bushes, etc.  I would like to give the chicks something to get under to get out of the sun and away from the daily hawks and eagles that fly over.  Right now they are currently using their old pens and dog kennels.  I would like to add plants that the chicks like to eat so that I don't have to let them out as much to free range because we have so many predators here in the woods around us.  Any suggestions would be appreciated.    I'm kind of thinking about a small, edible garden inside the run with bushes and trees for permanent placement.  I don't mind replanting things they like to eat.  BUT...I also want to be careful not to plant things that may poison them.  I know some plants are poisonous like Oleander but don't know what might just be bad for chickens.  Anyway - any pointers one way or the other would be much appreciated.  I don't want to cover all of the wire fencing with vines because then I wouldn't be able to watch the chicks from my bench on other side.  And going out to watch the chicks several times a day has been my stess reliever.   But, right now it all looks pretty bare - maybe because it's the only clear spot on our property.  Everything else is covered with something growing.  Down here in So. La. we get several inches of rain a day and summers that never end.  Thanks for any help.
http://i187.photobucket.com/albums/x204/chicklady/Chickenrun1.jpg

post #2 of 35

Inside the run, the plants will last about a day or two.  Maybe if you start with big plants in pots and move them in, they might last a little longer.  Chickens will eat every little morsel of green they can reach.  Because of the shade and the pine trees, you will be limited as to what will grow on the outside, and even further limited if you don't want vines.  Honeysuckle and jasmine would grow their probably.   Rhododendrons and azaleas will grow in shade under pines, but I don't know if they are toxic to chickens.
Good luck in your search!

Valerie        
1 Husband, 2 Kids, 6 Hens: 1 White Leghorn(Pearl)  , 1 RIR (Hot Rod) , 1 SLW (Doris), 1 Black Aust. (Tina), 2 EEs (Cleo & Eleanor [Roosevelt] both laying green eggs!) & 2 cats.           My Coop
Reply
Valerie        
1 Husband, 2 Kids, 6 Hens: 1 White Leghorn(Pearl)  , 1 RIR (Hot Rod) , 1 SLW (Doris), 1 Black Aust. (Tina), 2 EEs (Cleo & Eleanor [Roosevelt] both laying green eggs!) & 2 cats.           My Coop
Reply
post #3 of 35
Thread Starter 

Hi Cookinmom - thanks for a fast reply.  The far end of the run is pure sun.  Right now they don't go down there because it's too hot for them.  They stay near the door - behind and under the old pen.  That part of the run has a huge oak overhanging it and lots of shade.  I want vines but just don't want to cover the whole thing.  I also want to be careful not to plant vines that would be toxic.  We have lots of azaleas and they grow great with the acidic pine mulch and I have considered planting some in the run.  However, that's why I'm writing and asking the experts.  I'm afraid that something I would not think twice about planting might indeed be toxic to chickens since I understand that they eat just about anything green.  In fact most of the posts I found were about what could be planted that the chicks won't eat.  I guess you're right - if I tried to plant edible plants they will eat them before they ever get big.  Oh well - that's the question - what to plant?  I've thought about climbing roses on the sunny end but again want to seek others advice because I don't want to hurt my chicks.

post #4 of 35

What the chickens don't eat in their pen, they will scratch up and kill. Better off rotating in and out planters if you want something to survive in there.

Need egg candling reference pics? Click HERE!
2011 Coop build! Click Here!

 

I'm no expert, there is always something to learn, and my birds are livestock, so... yes, I may be quite blunt. wink.png

Reply

Need egg candling reference pics? Click HERE!
2011 Coop build! Click Here!

 

I'm no expert, there is always something to learn, and my birds are livestock, so... yes, I may be quite blunt. wink.png

Reply
post #5 of 35

My chickens love to eat the flowers and leaves of the wild rose bushes that I can't eradicate. Unfortunately, they don;t eat much more than a foot or two off the ground and the roses are prolific--so that may be just the ticket for you. Not sure if they grow where you live though (and they are invasive). Their other favorite bush is forsythia, they don't eat it, but they love to hang out under it and it grows prolifically.  You might also want to plant an evergreen--they have some that grow quickly, so even if you ahve to fence it off for the first year until the roots establish, by the second year it will be big enough to shade them.

Peace~*~*~
Morgen
Dreamwood Farm
Happily co-existing with 4 cats, 1 Maltese, 23 chickens, 6 Guineas, and 10 alpacas
Reply
Peace~*~*~
Morgen
Dreamwood Farm
Happily co-existing with 4 cats, 1 Maltese, 23 chickens, 6 Guineas, and 10 alpacas
Reply
post #6 of 35

Chickens LOVE wheat grass!  As a matter of fact it's also good for them and some of the organic farmers here even have (in big letters) wheat grass fed chickens on their egg cartons!

Anyhow- it's really simple to give them some of these greens...

**Take a flat (or other container- but flats work best)
**Fill with dirt (if the flat has holes that are too large, you can line it with a few layers of newspaper)
**cover with wheat seeds (you should barely be able to see any dirt
**DO NOT COVER THE SEEDS
**water
Within  a week you should have what looks like a square of lawn...Then you put that in the run.  They will eat the grass and walk all over it etc....

Before I let my chickens free range-- I'd have 2-3 flats going all at once and then just trade them out--every few days to a week.  A quick "mow" and more water usually gives another "crop"...then I'd start all over when it didn't grow back well.  It's easy and nice.

Good luck
Sandra

Nov '08: Alpha to 4EE's, 2RIR, 1Buff Orp, 2 Jersey Giant, 1AsilXwelsummer, 1 australorpX?, 1 EE roo, and 4 runneducks* I promised DH we we're @ capacity-what was I thinking!!--that was a chicken ago--the neighbor needed a new home for her lone chicken--and a duck ago...a friend who needed a home for their runner duck who thinks it's a cross between a human and a chicken!!!!!
Reply
Nov '08: Alpha to 4EE's, 2RIR, 1Buff Orp, 2 Jersey Giant, 1AsilXwelsummer, 1 australorpX?, 1 EE roo, and 4 runneducks* I promised DH we we're @ capacity-what was I thinking!!--that was a chicken ago--the neighbor needed a new home for her lone chicken--and a duck ago...a friend who needed a home for their runner duck who thinks it's a cross between a human and a chicken!!!!!
Reply
post #7 of 35

I have several container gardens for us and the chickens which consist of cukes, maters, nasturtiums, peppers and several flats of greens: beets, kale, lettuce, mustard, spinach, etc. This link may also help...http://www.backyardchickens.com/forum/viewtopic.php?id=7775

Happily homesteading in Sharp County Arkansas
...I heard them bikers talkin' 'bout ridin' Hawgs and checkin' out Chicks...
Food Grade DE
Reply
Happily homesteading in Sharp County Arkansas
...I heard them bikers talkin' 'bout ridin' Hawgs and checkin' out Chicks...
Food Grade DE
Reply
post #8 of 35

I planted some daylillies outside of my coop. The leaves grow through the chickenwire and give my chickens something to nibble on. They love them.

post #9 of 35
Thread Starter 

Thanks LC - I hadn't thought about daylillies.  I literally have thousands of them around the place and most need to be thinned out and transplanted.  I had run out of places to move them.  Glad to hear they like the leaves and that the leaves or flowers aren't toxic.  That's my main concern and reason for the post.  I know about most plants but know NOTHING about which ones chickens eat or don't eat and which ones could make them sick or worse.

I also liked dreamgirl's suggestion of wild roses.  I have one that takes over the trellis on my side deck.  Started out from a clipping I took from the woods and now I call it my "Feed me Seymore" plant.  You can cut that sucker down to nothing and two days later it has a million 20' long arms with 4" thorns reaching out in all directions so no one can get past it.  Think I will move part of it to sunny part at back of run.  That's where all the deer and other wildlife come and go from the woods and the "killer" rose bush would keep anything from climbing up or going through the fence there.

I also liked Dawn419 & Sandrachick's suggestions of container gardens.  I think I will try that too.

Thanks to all for suggestions - they give me some ideas.  I guess everyone else is used to seeing bare chicken runs but to me it looks so lonely and bare.  Thought I would make them their own "free range" right inside the run by planting things that not only provided protection and shade but also provided food source.

Great forum and lots of wonderful people with great, helpful ideas on all topics.  Yesterday I posted a chicken "poem" or American Express commercial that came to mind about how "crazy" I seem to be getting about these chickens.  It's meant about me and references trips to the therapist because of chickens (though I don't really have a therapist but most of my family now thinks I probably need one since my chicken "obsession" seems crazy to them.) Anyway, this is just another example of how fond I've become of my chicks.  I'll probably spend a fortune before it's over decorating and landscaping their home.

post #10 of 35

Hi Ruth!

I had to go with container gardens this year as we are still working on getting our main run built at this time.

Once it is finished, we will be installing a raised bed along the whole south side of the run for the garden and possibly one along the north side too since it has the most shade and would probaqbly be good for greens.

South side of in-progress run...
http://i9.photobucket.com/albums/a78/TnWren/th_e8adf579.jpg

We are still debating on whether to add just one cattle panel section or two. My hands and arms after attaching the wire to the panels scream "Just one more section" but we'll probably go with 2 just to make more room!

Happily homesteading in Sharp County Arkansas
...I heard them bikers talkin' 'bout ridin' Hawgs and checkin' out Chicks...
Food Grade DE
Reply
Happily homesteading in Sharp County Arkansas
...I heard them bikers talkin' 'bout ridin' Hawgs and checkin' out Chicks...
Food Grade DE
Reply
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Feeding & Watering Your Flock