Chickens + Grass = Hot Mess?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by bellmare, Feb 13, 2014.

  1. bellmare

    bellmare Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Oct 20, 2013
    Las Vegas
    Hello ya'll! I live in Las Vegas (well, Henderson, but close enough), a very hot and dry climate. We haven't ever had trouble keeping our grass in the backyard green during the summers with plenty of watering and looking lush and healthy. Over the winters it yellows and we let it die a bit and then nurse it back to life in the spring. In the fall of last year we purchased our very first chickens and are keeping them in a "coop" that used to be an old gardening area - it's approx. 9'x13' and we only have four hens. It seems to be plenty of room for them, however I have begun the habit of spoiling the girls and letting them out every morning to "free range" on the grass until the afternoon (about 2 or 3pm).

    I have three kids and when they come home from school they want to play in their backyard, so I grab my hose and spray off the grass (for the purpose of dissolving the chicken poos so they don't attach to my kids' feet and shoes). It seems to work well for clearing the poo, but I've recently read that chicken droppings aren't good fertilizer until they have been composted. I don't have a compost in the works right now and that's not an option (I throw away all the poo from the coop). Am I killing my grass slowly by allowing my hens to poop on it?

    My children have a trampoline and I've considered making that into a chicken run, thus limiting the access my hens have to the full backyard. They aren't afraid of the kids jumping and frequently hang out under there anyway. I expect when I limit my hens to that small area they will eventually kill the grass underneath the trampoline. But at that point I am thinking I can just move the trampoline and let them start fresh while I reseed and bring back to life the dead patch.

    Does anyone have experience with bringing grass back to life after the chickens have killed it? I need some advice on the best way to let my girls have access to grass and cool earth while still having that pretty backyard oasis that I'm used to.
     
  2. Makomd

    Makomd Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jul 24, 2011
    ES of MD , USA
    I am no expert, but in my experience chicken poop is one of the best fertilizers regardless if it is composted or not. I would think any issues with your grass and chickens would be them eating it and scratching it until it is bare. Four hens may not be too hard on your backyard though.
     
  3. bellmare

    bellmare Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Oct 20, 2013
    Las Vegas
    Thank you! It helps to be reassured I'm not doing a bad thing by letting them on the grass. I'm also thinking of restricting them access to only 3-4 days a week instead of 6-7. But of course I'd have to make their coop more interesting. They hate being sent to their "room" after being on the grass, but I leave the gate open to their coop and they do go back in to eat, drink, and lay eggs during the morning.
     
  4. Alaskan

    Alaskan The Frosted Flake


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