behavior of sorts... future BYC and my lawn

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by ONSTAD1, May 20, 2012.

  1. ONSTAD1

    ONSTAD1 Chirping

    I'm thinking of getting some BYC, but have concerns about losing my lawn. I will most likely get 3-4 hens and have a 25'x25' lawn. bordering the lawn are 2 "gardens" that are basically two 5'x8' dirt patches. I have a few questions.
    1. Will the hens take to the dirt options given to them rather than scratch up my lawn?
    2. Can I "train" then to scratch in the dirt?
    3. If I get breeds that do well with confinement can I just "free range" them for a few hours in the evening? Will they go "crazy" being cooped up?

    I'm super excited to try this. I just don't want to dive in then figure out it isn't going to work for some reason and have to find new foster homes for 4 chickens. I've read pretty much every thread in every forum so I feel like I have a pretty good idea of what I'm getting in to. Any random advice for an uber novice? What is the one thing you might have done differently in the first few weeks of chickening?

    Lastly, sorry if this is posed in the wrong spot...I couldn't really find a place for it with available options. Perhaps there should be a Forum Header like Novice Nook?

    Anyway thanks for all your help in advance.

    Mo
     
  2. scratch'n'peck

    scratch'n'peck Crowing

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    My Coop
    This seems like a fine place on the forum to post this question. Although chickens will scratch up a chicken run that is not mobile, 4 hens won't damage or scratch up a lawn that big. I keep my 7 chickens in a 10'x5' run most of the day because of potential predators and let them free range when I can give them some supervision. Your hens will probably like scratching and dirt bathing in the gardens areas.
     
    Last edited: May 20, 2012
  3. Imp

    Imp All things share the same breath- Chief Seattle

    1. Will the hens take to the dirt options given to them rather than scratch up my lawn?
    2. Can I "train" then to scratch in the dirt?
    They will prefer to scratch/bathe in the dirt, but that doesn't mean they won't tear up the lawn.
    25 x 25 is 625 sf, not a huge lawn. A few years ago it was occasionally posted that you would need 450 sf of lawn per chicken to have a chance. I don't know where that number came from, but it works for me. Of course different chicken behave differently.
    I have between 2-5 chickens at a time, in a ~7000 sf back yard (~5000 sf lawn) and no damage to the lawn in nearly 8 years. But they have dug some serious holes in the flower beds, garden, and bare areas.
    I don't think you can train them, but you could encourage them to use the bare areas with scratch, and they do seem to go back to the same spot often.


    3. If I get breeds that do well with confinement can I just "free range" them for a few hours in the evening? Will they go "crazy" being cooped up?
    Yes you can confine them, when you aren't there. Because of raccoons I have started doing this in the past year. Chickens that are used to running around the yard were not happy, but my new ones that have not free ranged seem OK with it.


    What is the one thing you might have done differently in the first few weeks of chickening?
    Nothing I would have done differently, no buyers remorse. But the first time I smelled chicken poop I was worried about the downwind neighbors. Then it dawned on me that they had 3 large dogs, and 2 cats. [​IMG]


    Imp- Good luck, Have fun & Welcome
     
  4. CluckCluck18

    CluckCluck18 Songster

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    I guess it just depends. I started with six chickens who free range and although the grass in my yard wasn't all that great, they promptly tore everything up in just a few months. Now I have ten and have divided my yard horizontally with a lattice fence and gate. 2/3 for them and 1/3 for me. I plan to either put down turf or sod in my part and they can do what they want on their side. I would like to figure out some things that I could plant that they won't tear up but don't know what? Periodically they perch on the fence and look at me like, "just so you know we can come over here anytime we want" Fresh girls! [​IMG]
     
  5. MacMamaof4

    MacMamaof4 In the Brooder

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    That's about the size of our lawn as well, and we settled on a chicken tractor for our four hens. It's an A-frame type, with the coop upstairs and a 4'X6' run on the bottom which is perfect here because they're sheltered from all the rain we get. We move it every night (just enough so it covers new grass) and our yard stays nice. With only one day in each spot the chickens "mow" and fertilize the grass but don't destroy it, and the chicken poop just goes right down into the grass so we never have to clean the run. We didn't have an option to free-range them, because our entire yard is only surrounded by a 3' picket fence, but so far I really like our chicken tractor.
     
  6. Courts Clucks

    Courts Clucks In the Brooder

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    Two of my roos that have been dubbed the Tweedles and are digging to china in my yard and my mulched shrub lines. They are going to a new home soon. I don't really stop them from digging bc then my husband has a reason to start over and make a pretty lawn for me...hehehe. They have dug holes big enough for my 90 lb German Shepard to lay in...
     
  7. jamesbwood

    jamesbwood Songster

    Why 4 chickens? Why not 2 small breed chickens? It does seem like a lot of chickens per area of lawn. Especially for someone that cares about their lawn.

    I think chickens are good for my lawn as they eat weeds more then they eat grass, they eat bugs, and they till and provide fertilizer. But I have an acre, 11 chickens, and don't really care that much about my lawn.
     
  8. ONSTAD1

    ONSTAD1 Chirping

    Thanks for all the replies.
     

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