Chickens and grass seed?

Weeg

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Is there any way to plant grass seed in the ru without the chickens eating it? Our run is a mucky mess, I am hoping growing grass there, will help keep it from getting so muddy! Anyway to keep the hens from eating the seed? What kind of see should I use to help keep the run together? All ideas and advice appreciated!
 

NatJ

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Mar 20, 2017
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I can think of several options:

a) put litter in the run (wood chips, dead leaves, anything else that's handy). When it's deep enough, it'll keep the chickens out of the mud, and they can scratch around in it looking for bugs. It will gradually rot away, so you have to keep adding more, but wood chips do last quite a while because they rot so slowly.

b) build another run, and use it while the grass seed is getting started. Unfortunately, you need a really BIG run to have the grass stay alive while the chickens are in there (something like an entire backyard for half a dozen chickens). Swapping back and forth with two runs, you might be able to get grass growing in one about the time the chickens kill it in the other. But you would probably still be replanting it frequently, which doesn't help much with the mud.

c) make a frame that sits on the ground, with wire mesh on top of the frame. The grass grows underneath and and pokes up through the wire mesh. The chickens can walk on the wire and eat the grass that comes through, but they cannot scratch up the roots, so they don't kill the grass. If you do this, you will want to leave part of the run without the wire mesh, so the chickens have a place to scratch and dustbathe and walk on something that's not wire mesh. But you could do a large part of the run that way if you wanted.

Frames like that are often called "grazing frames"--I think if you search, you will find several threads about them.

Sorry, I don't know what specific kinds of grass would be better or worse for your purpose.
 

Tonyroo

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Mar 29, 2020
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Chickens love to eat grass leaves so it would be very hard to maintain a lawn in the run. As far as the muddy part, have you considered using leaf litter, wood chips, or straw?

Another option would be to use sod and lay it where you want it, it's pretty thick and the grass roots are established.
 
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Weeg

Crossing the Road
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Jul 1, 2020
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I can think of several options:

a) put litter in the run (wood chips, dead leaves, anything else that's handy). When it's deep enough, it'll keep the chickens out of the mud, and they can scratch around in it looking for bugs. It will gradually rot away, so you have to keep adding more, but wood chips do last quite a while because they rot so slowly.

b) build another run, and use it while the grass seed is getting started. Unfortunately, you need a really BIG run to have the grass stay alive while the chickens are in there (something like an entire backyard for half a dozen chickens). Swapping back and forth with two runs, you might be able to get grass growing in one about the time the chickens kill it in the other. But you would probably still be replanting it frequently, which doesn't help much with the mud.

c) make a frame that sits on the ground, with wire mesh on top of the frame. The grass grows underneath and and pokes up through the wire mesh. The chickens can walk on the wire and eat the grass that comes through, but they cannot scratch up the roots, so they don't kill the grass. If you do this, you will want to leave part of the run without the wire mesh, so the chickens have a place to scratch and dustbathe and walk on something that's not wire mesh. But you could do a large part of the run that way if you wanted.

Frames like that are often called "grazing frames"--I think if you search, you will find several threads about them.

Sorry, I don't know what specific kinds of grass would be better or worse for your purpose.
Thank you! I love the grazing frame idea! Our run and setup is kinda in shambles right now, I am working on getting ahold of some aged wood chips that I can use. The hardest part is getting them here. When I remodel the coop and run, I will definelty include grazing frames! Thank you!
 

Weeg

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Chickens love to eat grass leaves so it would be very hard to maintain a lawn in the run. As far as the muddy part, have you considered using leaf litter, wood chips, or straw?

Another option would be to use sod and lay it where you want it, it's pretty thick and the grass roots are established.
Yes, workmen on getting some aged wood chips down here. There from a friend, so the hardest part is getting them here. I would use straw, but I don't have a covered run, and with all our Washington rain, it would be a mess. I defiantly want a covered run when I remodel as well. Sod, good idea! Thank you!
 

rosemarythyme

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Sod, good idea! Thank you!

If you're planning to use sod, do your research as to what it in it. Most commercial sod is treated with fertilizers or other add ins to make it grow. Someone recently lost a chicken to their sod, which had plastic mesh to provide structure, and a chicken strangled itself in the mesh.
 

Liz Birdlover

Crowing
Jan 6, 2018
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When I 1st got chickens, I had 3 runs so I could rotate the flock, letting the grass recover. I had screen covered grazing greens with chickweed which they love. It worked pretty good until chicken math happened. Yeah somehow 1 Roo & 3 hens became a flock of 40, 11 which are Roos. Lol. So if you can have more self control than I did, you can have a small flock & rotate them. I planted sod btw, because when we built the coop & pens we destroyed the grass & clover with construction. The sod I bought was local & they cut the sod according to order that morning, they do not use fertilizers or that green mesh netting. Some places do, so you have to check that out 1st.

So now I have 2 coops & need to remodel old coop#1 to accommodate everyone so that would be providing 1 section of coop & run per Roo with his hens. For now, 6 of my groups are set up right, 5 are set up temporary but they're doing OK.

So, I put sod in the pens because I don't like nearly breaking my neck slipping in mud, & I don't want my chickens to get bumblefoot. I get a lot of rain where I live 10 mos of the year though. Chickens love to turf looking for bugs & eating greens so I have 2 turfing & dustbathe areas and provide grazing greens covered so they grow through screen. I started with a 2'x2' covered greens, not big enough, now I've got 2'x6's but, going to make 2-2'x4's so I can move the the covers easier when I need to add plants.

Sod will die if it gets turfed alot or doesn't get rain or watered. When I 1st put it down I thought it'll get me through wet winter & spring but won't last, but surprisingly it lasted, but that's because I also free ranged them whenever I was home. They also have hanging cabbage or corn & flock blocks to peck, and the 2 separate areas for turfing & dust baths. Mine spend most time in that covered area & take dust baths, or up on a perch in their covered gazebos. When we had summer drought 100 degree days for 2 mos, the sod died, so I replaced it & since then I've watered it when we got really hot days like that. This time it has lasted almost 3 yrs.

What works for me may not work for you, it depends on your climate and your chickens. My Marans & RIRs & EEs are a tougher on the sod. Buff Orpingtons & Wyandottes are nicer on the sod. This coming year I plan to have another free range grazing area with at least a small fence for when I am outside gardening with them. I can no longer totally free range as my idiot neighbor started feeding the wild foxes here. It's a darn shame, but I'm glad I built safe, secure pens in the 1st place. My chickens are very happy & feel safe in the pens. My only regret is not making them larger. I hatched 10 eggs this past spring, & while I Loved raising these chicks & the sweet adults they've grown into, I didn't count on half of them being Roos. I need to NOT breed any more of my own right now...I am maxed out.

I'm in Delaware, East coast USA, so lots of rain here. This wouldn't work in the southwest.
 

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aart

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If you're planning to use sod, do your research as to what it in it. Most commercial sod is treated with fertilizers or other add ins to make it grow. Someone recently lost a chicken to their sod, which had plastic mesh to provide structure, and a chicken strangled itself in the mesh.
Ditto Dat!

Growing grass in a chicken run is futile, IMO.

I prefer good bedding that 'eats' the poops and just needs some added once in a while.
Semi-deep litter(cold composting), never clean anything out, just add smaller dry materials on occasion, add larger wood chippings as needed.
full


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CHlCKEN

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Chickens and plants don't go together unfortunately
Agreed. They find it no matter where it is. I once put some on the opposite side of the yard, on the opposite side of the pool, and my chickens got to it and ate it even though one of them fell in the pool and got a free swimming lesson in the process 😂
 

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