Chickens and landscaping

FlyWheel

Crowing
5 Years
Mar 19, 2016
2,119
2,443
312
35.111165 -81.226586
My Coop
My Coop
I wouldn't be surprised if this has been asked before, so if it has please feel free to direct me to the appropriate thread, my searches have been ineffective.

I have seen people's homes where even though they let their chickens free range it doesn't look like a setting out of the movie Mad Max. So my question is this; at what point does an area become too large for a chicken to effectively denude it? Is there a magical minimum square footage per chicken ratio? And what would that number be?






;) Just because I know someone will ask, I have four hens and they will be allowed limited free range privileges ( a few hours a day).
 

slordaz

hatchaholic
5 Years
Apr 15, 2015
3,456
6,393
602
Idaho
I don't think there is but the more room the better chance of it not happening. Also put a barrier around any young trees, mine felled the newly planted Cherry tree
 

ValerieJ

Straw parade on snow day
Premium Feather Member
5 Years
Jul 24, 2016
10,552
63,209
1,287
Washington State
I wouldn't be surprised if this has been asked before, so if it has please feel free to direct me to the appropriate thread, my searches have been ineffective.

I have seen people's homes where even though they let their chickens free range it doesn't look like a setting out of the movie Mad Max. So my question is this; at what point does an area become too large for a chicken to effectively denude it? Is there a magical minimum square footage per chicken ratio? And what would that number be?






;) Just because I know someone will ask, I have four hens and they will be allowed limited free range privileges ( a few hours a day).
Good question. My chickens free range in my small orchard. That's approximately 4,000 SF for an 8 to 12 chicken flock. We have to go in and mow the grass, weeds and forest plants. But garden beds are different. I think they would love that soft dirt and be in there make dust bowls.
 

slordaz

hatchaholic
5 Years
Apr 15, 2015
3,456
6,393
602
Idaho
Good question. My chickens free range in my small orchard. That's approximately 4,000 SF for an 8 to 12 chicken flock. We have to go in and mow the grass, weeds and forest plants. But garden beds are different. I think they would love that soft dirt and be in there make dust bowls.
depends on the flock apparently my first flock they never bothered the garden until they were allowed in at end of season even un protected, second flock was a total difference, they pulled up every plant and ate it as it sprouted, they were flying over the fencing even to get in there
 

azygous

Enabler
11 Years
Dec 11, 2009
24,141
35,226
1,122
Colorado Rockies
I can't give you a formula for pasturing chickens and not having it denude the ground cover, but it does matter that the numbers do not overwhelm the environment.

It also directly depends on the type of vegetation you select for your pasture areas. Sod type grasses are exceptionally vulnerable to chicken action due to their shallow root systems. A better choice for grass type would be bunch type grass varieties and perennial flowers and ground cover. The roots on these types of grasses and flowers go deep and will resist the scratching and digging chickens will do.

Recently, I removed several dead pines and that left a large nude area behind my chicken run. I installed long pieces of scrap 2 x 4s and juniper branches to act as water bars to hold the soil in place when it rains or to avoid washouts from snow melt.

Then I seeded the area with bunch grass seed and perennial wild flowers. https://www.larnerseeds.com/store/term/native-grasses I covered the area with straw to further control erosion and it helped keep the soil moist so the seed could germinate and take hold.

Then, most important, I surrounded the plot with plastic deer netting to keep my chickens and the wild turkeys off it until the new vegetation had taken hold. It didn't take nearly as long as I thought. After one winter and spring, I was able to take down the deer netting, and the chickens and wild turkeys have been grazing the new plot with no damage.
 

Gray Farms

Conserve Heritage Breed Livestock
5 Years
Apr 11, 2016
14,352
19,110
647
NW Missouri
The "apocalyptic" look is more likely tied to overpopulated/overstressed. Nothing green survives in my grow out pens, but the breeder pens have some grass. It also might be an idea to research into grasses, shrubbery, and flowers that chickens don't like to eat "but not toxic". And plant those.
 

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