Chickens destroying my yard

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Ximena, Aug 13, 2016.

  1. Ximena

    Ximena Out Of The Brooder

    May 14, 2016
    We're going to be moving into a new house with a small but grassy back yard 60x30 feet we have 3 hens and 6 more coming, I want to build them a 10x10 chicken tractor. Is this yard bid enough or will they completely destroy it. What about the poop will that kill the grass.
  2. chickengeorgeto

    chickengeorgeto Overrun With Chickens

    Have no fear, the 9 hens you're considering will kill every blade of grass in an 1,800 square foot back yard long before the poop from a mere 9 hens does the grass in. Of course how quick this happens will somewhat depend on your location and the local weather..
  3. Flock In Texas

    Flock In Texas Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 7, 2016
    I've read that if your tractor has a hardware cloth floor and it's raised a little above the grass, they'll only be able to eat the grass tips. Good news is you won't have to mow.
  4. Leigti

    Leigti Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 22, 2015
    Walla Walla WA
    I don't know, with that small of a backyard you might be better making them a large run and then just letting them out once in a while to free range. It won't take them long to destroy that area. My backyard is about four times that big, I gave the chickens three force of it and fenced off one fourth to try to keep nice grass in. I'm going to plant foraging seeds in the rest of the yard.
  5. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    Yeah, but that can tear up their feet as they will still try to scratch........and hardware cloth plugged up with poop is not fun to clean.
  6. Ximena

    Ximena Out Of The Brooder

    May 14, 2016
    What if built a permanent coop and used the tractor as a run most of the time and only use it as a tractor once in a while, would that save the grass?
  7. Intheswamp

    Intheswamp Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 25, 2009
    South Alabama
    Something tells me that you're going to have too many chickens in your backyard. [​IMG] Overpopulation of any creature over a limited area will cause a decline in health of those creatures.

    For nine hens I would be sure to have a coop a minimum of 36 sq ft. A 4x8 coop gets you pretty close, but will be tight. For the run I would go by the 10 square foot per chicken recommendation. For nine chickens it would be 90 square feet. Your 10x10 run that you propose would work. I would build it as a fixed coop and run, not to be moved around...more is *always* better. I would let the chickens out to free range for an hour or so late in the evening, just to help them keep their sanity.

    But, having nine chickens in a 100 square foot run will result in a barren moonscape. The ground will become packed down and saturated with manure. Then the rainy spell comes and it begins to have an incredible stink to it. Having a 60x30 backyard tells me you probably have a neighbor across the fence from you. They'll probably smell it, too. Oh, and flies...there will be flies. Just saying...

    Ok, so what do you do? Deep litter. Build your run/tractor tall enough so that you can raise the ground-level up by a foot. Pile in the wood chips, dried leaves, dried grass clippings, twigs, cornhusks, etc.,...anything to get a thick layer of carbonaceous "brown" material down on the ground to balance out the nitrogen-rich chicken manure. This hopefully will create a healthy deep litter system that will host organisms that will in turn devour the droppings while at the same time imparting some health benefits to the litter. And, it will help with the smell and the flies.

    The other thing to do is to start feeding them fermented feed. It is noted that one benefit of feeding fermented feed is that the chickens' poop doesn't smell nearly as bad...some people report that feeding fermented feed causes the poop to not smell at all! Besides helping with the smell it can cut your feed bill almost in half in some instances. The chickens also get more nutrition from fermented feed...lots of probiotics, too. Win, win, win...

    Oh, and as for your grass surviving nine hens....I think if you do some research you will find that what the other posters have said about the chickens stripping it bare is correct.

    I'm not trying to be a pessimist with the above information, just wanting you to be aware of what you're looking at. A question that I have is "Do you really need nine hens?". That 100 square foot run and 32 square foot coop will work a lot better with four chickens.

    Best wishes,
    1 person likes this.
  8. Teila

    Teila Bambrook Bantams Premium Member

    Hi there Ximena

    I agree with the posts so far.

    If you are moving 9 hens in a 10 x 10 tractor over a 60 x 30 foot yard, moving them when they have moonscaped an existing area, by the time you get back to the original moonscaped area, I do not think it will have had time to recover. Ergo, you will end up with a totally moonscaped yard.

    You can still have a nice garden while having chickens also.

    Are the hens full size or bantams? I have 5 bantams in a suburban back yard and went with a fixed coop and run plus a couple of hours supervised free range on week days and all day on the weekend. I use deep litter in the run and because of our climate, have a slatted timber floor in the raised coop.

    The reduced free range means we have green lawn and the poop has not killed the grass:


    I also keep my plants in pots which not only helps with reducing water used but also tends to stop the girls digging them out. If you have lots of shaded garden areas you may find that your hens prefer to spend time scratching and digging in those as opposed to ranging on the lawn. This is where my girls spend most of their time, only ranging on the lawn late in the afternoon for a short while.


    I also have an area of the garden which is just for the chickens .. they love it!

    Last edited: Aug 13, 2016
    1 person likes this.
  9. Ximena

    Ximena Out Of The Brooder

    May 14, 2016
    Thanks for the advice I think we're probably going get a large run for them and let them out to free range occasionally. Our current yard is a lot bigger so keeping 9 chickens wasn't a problem if it really get too crowded we might give some away:hit
  10. Rock Home Isle

    Rock Home Isle Chillin' With My Peeps

    My backyard is .22 acres in size. Not big but a nice size able yard. I have maintained small flocks of 3 to 8 birds on this property for several years, and I have found that if the flock size is much over 4 birds...they really tear up the yard. Damage is done during the winter when the grass is dormant, but the flock is still digging and scratching.

    Here is what the yard looked like this spring.


    My garden is fenced with a 4 foot welded wire fence.


    If you have a lot of birds and a small yard, you'll be adding a lot of extra work in order to maintain a yard.
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2016

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