backyard free runners, much clean up?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by mrsdjl3rd, Feb 1, 2014.

  1. mrsdjl3rd

    mrsdjl3rd Out Of The Brooder

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    We have a large fenced in area that is not being used on our land. Thinking of building it up so they cant fly out and use as a run. Its the size of a pretty big urban back yard. I know people with short runs either have to rake or make it a tractor and move frequently.

    Anyway, I was curious how clean upup would go if I had them in a lalarge area/run like that. Would I still need to rake? Could I mow it and that scatter the poo good enough? First time chicken owner here, will be getting chicks soon.

    Also, if they have such a large area, could they be free range eating off the land or would they still need same amount of bagged food?

    Thanks!
     
  2. Judy

    Judy Moderator Staff Member

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    You would need to provide some numbers to even guess how things would go, as in how many chickens and the size of the yard.

    I'll tell you my setup, just as an idea. I have 9 hens in a 70'x70' fenced yard. I don't pick up poop. It gets mowed a few times a year to keep the weeds down. There is no need to mow grass as they eat it all. It is nowhere near enough to feed them; they have standard feed available at all times. They do hunt bugs, and forage in their yard. They do eat more feed in winter than summer.

    I used to let my flock free range. They had access to way more grass than they can eat, as well as woods with the usual array of bugs and small critters. Even then, they ate some regular feed, again, more in winter.

    I've seen some figures on how much land it takes to sustain chickens without supplemental feed. I don't have links to those sources any more, but you can find it if you work at it, or maybe someone else here knows. I know it involves not just space but quality and nature of the forage that's available. Again, hopefully someone with more knowledge of these things will come along.
     
  3. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Chicken Obsessed

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    I don't know where you live but most breeds wouldn't be able to live off the land in that situation unless it was pristine pasture in warm weather with a huge variety of tender plants, lots of bugs and weed seeds.
    Then they still wouldn't be very productive if not provided a balance chicken ration.

    It depends on how many chickens you put out there but you probably don't need to worry about cleanup.

    Plant durable things the chickens can't destroy like alfalfa.
     
  4. mrsdjl3rd

    mrsdjl3rd Out Of The Brooder

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    I'm sorry, I believe it is around 30'x70'. We are thinking of purchasing 9-12 chick. We will definitely always have buckets of food for them :) I was just curious about how much they consume off the land. The main grass is Bermuda.
     
  5. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Chicken Obsessed

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    Bermuda is pretty fibrous. They prefer more tender greens like clover, radish, turnips, beets, weeds (dandelion) for greens but greens only make up a small portion of their intake when foraging. Most of it comes from bugs and weed seeds. They tear up the soil looking for those things. A nicely manicured lawn is quickly devastated by ranging hens.
    I have some mature turf type fescue in the chicken area that I interplant with some of the things I mentioned as well as buckwheat, oats, barley etc.. This time of year the only thing left is the fibrous fescue.
     
  6. kimmerjo

    kimmerjo Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Seen this thread and I have a question....how long would it take for 18 chickens to clear a run that is 8'x60'?
     
  7. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Chicken Obsessed

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    Kinda depends on what's growing there. I have beds 8X40 that I rotate chicken pasture and seasonal vegetables. When I turn the chickens in, there are beets, radish, turnips, buckwheat, oats and wheat growing pretty thickly however it is still young at about 6" high. Within a week, 10 chickens will devastate most of it. Within a month there's nothing left.
    If I extend it by 10 feet, it will last another week. The smaller the area in relation to stocking density, the faster vegetation is gone in an exponential manner. Larger area or rotating pens/pasture works wonders.
     
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2014
    1 person likes this.
  8. mrsdjl3rd

    mrsdjl3rd Out Of The Brooder

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    Thank you!
     

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