Advice on keeping a grassy run

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Goozelle, Jun 12, 2008.

  1. Goozelle

    Goozelle New Egg

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    As a newbie I'm not sure how or if I should be cleaning my run.

    There is plenty of space in the run for the four hens so the grass keeps pretty good. Do I need to clean up the droppings in the grass or will it look after itself? (I've heard of the ground going "sour")
     
  2. s6bee

    s6bee Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 1, 2007
    Western, NY
    The grass will most likely be gone. Chickens are like termites with grass. I'm not sure how much you say you have, but most chickens in a run will clean it up. Some folks clean up the poo but my girls usually trample it in. I plan on adding sand every so often to freshen it all up. Not sure if that's the best method but it's the plan.

    Oh and Welcome to BYC
     
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2008
  3. spatcher

    spatcher Chillin' With My Peeps

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    How to keep grass in your run...dont add chickens!
     
  4. GallowayFarms

    GallowayFarms Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 19, 2008
    Ya the only way to really keep a grassy run is to have two of them and rotate the chickens everyweek or so. Chickens take alot of steps in a day so what they don't eat they run over and smash it down.

    So if you have lots of room make two runs. And also. Move the placement of your waterers and feeders to different parts of the run. This will keep them from standing in the same area alot.

    I hope this helps.

    Good Luck

    Nick
     
  5. Wraith

    Wraith Out Of The Brooder

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    May 22, 2008
    Upstate SC
    After they deplete all the grass, just resod it. Rinse, repeat.
    It's just not cost effective.
     
  6. hcammack

    hcammack Overrun With Chickens

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    I am planning on making two runs and also allowing them to free range about 1/2 the day so I hope some grass will remain. I was wondering how long the rotation period should be? weekly or every two weeks? maybe it depend on the season?

    Henry
     
  7. Davaroo

    Davaroo Poultry Crank

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    It takes 430 sq ft per chicken (100/acre) for turf and earth to absorb the chickens particular brand of punishment. That being said, it's a fair bet not many are giving that.

    Chickens scratch mercilessly at the grass and will denude smaller confines quickly. Their droppings are wonderful fertilizer, but are highyl concentrated and will burn most plants and grasses until they are absorbed. Combined in force, these two "chicken by-products" can spell ruin for most landscapes.

    Probably the best way to ensure the chickens in YOUR yard are kept on green grass is to move them around.
    Create a paddock arrangment by partitioning your space, and then cycle the chickens through these moveable paddock pens periodically.
    Once vacated, cultivate the paddock just left with forage crops like clover, rape or alfalfa. When the chickens come back the forage will have grown lush and is ready to accept them.
     
  8. hcammack

    hcammack Overrun With Chickens

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    so I have been using a chicken tractor but it is not working. so you suggest I allow them to defoliate one run and then reseed that run with one of these crops as the other one is foraged on. My hens will free range for about 1/2 the day so they will still get greens in our yard.

    Thanks,
    henry
     
  9. Davaroo

    Davaroo Poultry Crank

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    ...so you suggest I allow them to defoliate one run and then reseed that run with one of these crops as the other one is foraged on.

    Essentially, yes.
    The idea is to allow them to scratch and poop up one area, then move them to another. You then allow the first one to rest and "sweeten" by cultivating it.
    That is the original concept behind a mobile coop, or "tractor."
    Now, combine that with careful management, so that both YOU and the land is made to benefit from their "work."

    For example, allow them to remain for two weeks in one place.
    Add fine leaves and grass clippings in the tractor as "litter" every few days and then move their tractor one length ahead at the end of the two weeks. The chickens get to forage on the new space and do their thing for the next two weeks. Left behind is a rich "mattress" of composting material, to be treated as just that - compost.

    It is easy to see that, in a few months, this leap-frogging would have created a long "bed" full of pre-digested, composted material - ready for planting.
    Now move the tractor over one row and go back the other way. Keep this rotation up and you would have a choice garden space able to produce the richest, wonderful green food... and the chickens did all the work. No tilling, no more drudgery than moving the tractor and caring for the chickens.

    On a larger scale, place the coop/tractor in the center of a "wagon wheel" or quadrant division of your space. Use movable fencing instead of tractors to section off portions of the area and you would have the paddock rearing I mentioned. This is best if you want to cultivate forage and cover plants.​
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 13, 2008
  10. hcammack

    hcammack Overrun With Chickens

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    would is be pheasable to do a rotation with only two runs of 150sqft each for a dozen birds or should I do four 75sqft runs?

    Thanks for your advice,
    Henry
     

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