Their doors are opened every morning and they immediately run right out. And hand carried back every night after dark (dunno how to convince them to go back by themselves). I'm also thinking of opening up a hole in my back fence to let them free-range in the field back there....
I've noticed they're super happy every time I mow the lawn tho... I don't use the grass-catcher in the back yard so all the clippings just end up spread out everywhere, and I see them eating the cuttings that ended up on the concrete. I also started using the grass-catcher on my front yard and have been spreading those grass clippings into their run, on top of whatever food scraps and poop they've left there, hoping it'll kinda compost in the run by itself without stinking or attracting too many flies, I'll see how that goes...
It sounds like you are enjoying your birds! So fun to experiment with things they like to do!
What do you mean about the entire lawn devoured, I was actually kinda concerned about that, as they certainly destroyed it in their run. Will they destroy my back yard too?
It seems the most destructive thing my hens do to the lawn - including the bantam Silkies - is dig deep ugly holes all over the yard. What I had to do was fence off half the yard for their free-ranging fun and do whatever they wanted to it, and our half is kept for patio, raised garden beds, and container plants. Chickens love test-nibbling at anything green including garden vegetables and potted flowers so I couldn't trust them not to damage my hard work in the garden and sectioned them out.
Will their poop kill the grass, should I try to hand-pick it out?
If anything, the poop will make things grow even greener and faster. The poop dries so fast in the sun that it washes or breaks down easily. Chicken and duck poop/urine doesn't kill lawns the way dog/cat waste does. I always throw chicken nestbox straw with dried poops into my raised garden beds to mix into the soil. Been doing this for 5 years. Chicken manure is better for gardening than steer manure. At least, that's what a gardening magazine said.
Seems so far, besides their run, they haven't really hurt the yard and they've been out every day... seem to like hanging out on the fence line mostly where the grass is thin already...
My chickens hug the fence line as a safety measure against the Cooper's Hawk. The hawk can see them but won't go after the hens when they hug the block wall. I also have 4 large doghouses, a pop-up canopy, a couple low lean-to's of plywood sheets set on bricks, lawn chairs, and some empty container pots that they sometimes hide/snooze under in safety. The hawk only likes easy prey like small chicks or running hens to swoop down on and we've eliminated the problem with staggered shelters around the yard for the hens to hide quickly. So far been lucky not to lose anyone in 5 years.
Edited by Sylvester017 - 4/16/16 at 11:37am