chickens live on grass

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by hansolo, Jan 30, 2012.

  1. hansolo

    hansolo Chillin' With My Peeps

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    We finally fenced in our 5 chickens in the side yard.
    They have finished our lawn, with the aid of a dry year.
    They are fed a whole grain diet, with plenty of fruit, vege and diary treats and commercial feed free choice. They dun really scratch the lawn as there are plenty dirt to scratch else where. But no matter how well they are fed, they always eat salad bar on the lawn.

    Does anyone else notice this? That chickens absolutely love grass! (not grass clippings). Ours are fenced off the lawn for the time being, until our lawn recovers. I really need some ideas as to how to rotate them on grass. Is it possible to grow grass faster than they can eat? We have 5 chickens and a small patch.
     
  2. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

    5 adult birds can pretty much turn a tiny lawn into dirt. The question is, how tiny is tiny or how small is small? 5 full sized chickens, on a lawn of 50x50 will pretty much scald it off. If the lawn is 50x100, it would be fairly hard for them to hurt it, other than the occasional hole dug for dust bathing.
     
  3. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    I would estimate that green vegetative plant materials repressents a good 50% by volume of what my free-range birds consume. The same birds lay more consistently than the confined birds without free-choice access to green forages.

    Chicken tractor. While birds on a sub-patch (area under tractor), they will hit it hard but otherwise resting subpatches will have time to recover.
     
  4. aoxa

    aoxa Overrun With Chickens

    My chicken yard was devoured by October with 11 full sized chickens. It's huge as well.. We are rotating in the future :p
     
  5. ECBW

    ECBW Chillin' With My Peeps

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    In complete agreement with Fred. It is a function of # of bird, yard size and time. To a degree, grass growth rate, rain amount, although one can irrigate. Out of these factors, keeper can control # of bird and time. My lawn is growing well. If the lawn starts to show excessive wear, I would shorten the free-range time to reach equilibrium.

    By the way, they love grass clipping.
     
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2012
  6. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    When access to patches by birds is controlled, the number of birds or grazing pressure the pasture supports can be increased considerably. If birds have continuous access to an area resulting in frequent contact with plants, then damage will be accrued causing greater apparent "grazing" pressure which is actually caused as much by trampling / scratching as by actual grazing.
     
  7. hansolo

    hansolo Chillin' With My Peeps

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    i suspect our patch is about 25X50 if not smaller, then 25X50 dirt where they scratch and dust bath, another 25X50 concrete where they poop and hang out.
    I guess they just have to live with it that for certain time of the year, no grass. Thanks for the tip on trimmings, will try, probably better than no grass at all. They prefer vegetation on the ground so they can pick on the tender part, vegetables or grass trimmings thrown pre-cut seemed to be much less preferable.
    My friend also suggested dried alfafa hay.

    anyway, people who say that chickens live mostly on grain don't know what they are talking about...
     
  8. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    Alfalfa hay can be used. Moving could also get many advantages of plant forages without birds scratching everything up. Restricting access to grass during off-season can protect it from grazing pressure when plants can not repair themselves. The 25'x50' would be doable using the chicken tractor management system.
     
  9. hansolo

    hansolo Chillin' With My Peeps

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    at some point i bought bunch of sprouting grains (alfafa, clove, broccoli and something else cannot remember). I planted them in a fenced area and feed them to the chickens. But they quickly flowered. Maybe i could toss these on the dirt and hope the birds will miss (eating) some and they'd turn out on their own? The lack of rain this year really hit us hard I think.
     
  10. mandelyn

    mandelyn Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I became a stickler for weeds in the lawn since the birds will eat anything I can pull up. I gave thought to a tractor, but decided to just take the greens I picked to them. Clover, dandelion, ect. My husband will weed whack it anyways, so I went around yanking stuff out. Husband was reseeding the yard, accidentally got some in the gravel covered firepit, so I kept on weeding and feeding.

    We didn't have a drought though... we broke a record and got 75 inches of rain last year. Insane amounts of water. Instead of cutting grass twice a week I was snatching the tops off of the thickest areas for the birds or letting them out in it before he cut it.

    Short grass, they'll nip to the root. Long grass, they break off the top half. So when the grass got long, we'd set them free longer. But with the rain, the dogs, and the ducks... we need to reseed the lawn and fence some areas off from all animals. So far it's been too wet to throw seed... it'll just rot.
     

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