chickens eat lawn grasses?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by zeewack, Mar 24, 2008.

  1. zeewack

    zeewack Hatching

    Mar 24, 2008
    I am planning on welcoming chickens into my backyard which at the moment is kentucky blue grass. I am hoping to have a movable chicken run area. Has anyone found that chickens will scratch sod grass to the point of bare soil? I am wondering if it is possible to re-seed my lawn with a more functional ground cover (than grass) after the chickens have cleared the area. Has anyone had sucesss with this technique?
    Appreciate any ideas or suggestions.
    first time backyard chicken lover.
  2. Dogginfox

    Dogginfox Songster

    I have watched my chickens eat grass down to the roots.
  3. mangled

    mangled Songster

    What's grass?? [​IMG]

    Seriously, chickens will take it down to bare earth and beyond. I had a few spots in the yard where they liked to dust bathe, and those holes were deep enough to get the whole hen in, maybe 8 inches deep.

    They are excellent ground clearing machines.
  4. Xtradust

    Xtradust Songster

    Nov 19, 2007
    Orange, CA
    I think it depends on how many chickens and how much yard.

    I've got 11 bantams and they can't make a dent in my 25'x45' yard. It has a mix of about five different grasses, but I'm trying get St. Augustine to take over. It's indestructable.
  5. AK-Bird-brain

    AK-Bird-brain I gots Duckies!

    May 7, 2007
    Sterling, Alaska
    if you decide to let them on hte lawn just remember not to fertalize for awhile before letting your hens on the lawn, and use a mulching blade to prevent impacted crop if feeding clippings.
  6. GwenFarms

    GwenFarms Songster

    Feb 26, 2008
    Just keep your run moving and you won't have a problem. They will eat the grass and fertilize it for you. If you regularly move your chicken pen, you won't have bare spots, but if you leave it too long in one spot they will eat down to the dirt.
  7. d.k

    d.k red-headed stepchild

    * Watch out spraying/spreading weeding products, too!!! Also, a LOT of newer grass types have VERY HIGH endophyte counts bred in. These are dangerous when ingested by ANY livestock or pets. Endophytes are naturally occuring protectants in many grasses, but nowadays they are genetically enhanced and can cause serious G.I. problems.
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2008
  8. Cassandra

    Cassandra Ranger Rick

    Oct 27, 2007
    Southwest Mississippi
    Mine also can scratch a patch of earth bare of any life. LOL

    I had mine in a kennel (a pentagon shape made with five 10' panels.) I left them in one spot for probably 3 months. After the first month of having six hens in there, I started throwing down hay because the bare ground looked so cold.

    I've moved them recently and was thinking about building some raised garden beds over the place they just vacated. Might make a nice veggie spot.

  9. karmical

    karmical Songster

    Aug 3, 2007
    Honeoye Falls, NY
    Mine send the sod flying regularly with their furious scratching...right before my very eyes [​IMG] I have 7 girls that I let out to "free range" under supervision for only 30 minutes or so at a time , and they manage to leave bald patches of ground wherever they go.

    They will DEFINITELY clear the ground bare for you...the length of time it will take just depends on the amount area and number of chickens going at it. Sorry I don't have any advice on what to plant instead of the grass! It's a good question though..I'll be curious to read what other people suggest...

    Edited to add: AND WELCOME!!!! You're in good company here [​IMG]
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2008
  10. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    My experience has been that while it doesn't take awfully long for chickens to eat/scratch/trample/poo a plot down to bare dirt, it ALSO doesn't necessarily kill the grass in the long term, either. Very very awkward. I had a 4x7 tractor in one place for like a month last summer, was bare ucky dirt for quite some time before I moved the chickens (bad Pat [​IMG]), but a couple months after I moved them you could not easily tell where that bare spot had been. (Well, it was a little greener and lusher than the rest of the lawn actually)

    I am certain this depends a lot on what kind of grass and soil you have, of course.

    Still, while the 'use tractored chickens to clear grass so you can plant something else there' concept SOUNDS good, my experiences with it have not worked out well in that vein at all. I think I'd have to leave the tractor in one place for six months or a year to long-term seriously inconvenience the grass (which is mostly fescue btw).


    Pat, getting over massive horrible stomach flu, arggggh

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