Clearing/Mowing grass and gardening with chickens?

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by snoggle, Mar 31, 2012.

  1. snoggle

    snoggle Chillin' With My Peeps

    I have 3 week old chicks. My main goal with the chickens is to use them as partners in gardening. I'd like to decrease the amount of mowing we do and eliminate our need for chemicals by having chickens eating grass, bugs, etc. I've read a few books on the subject, but I still have a few questions.

    My plan is to have a whole bunch of 4' x 8' raised garden beds with paths in between them - maybe 3 feet wide. I'd like to construct a chicken tractor that will fit over the raised beds. Then I can put the tractor on top of whichever bed I need "tilled" at the time. I've read of people doing this, so I know it will work.

    My question though is about using them to clear the paths too. My idea is to have another chicken tractor that would fit in the paths (I really don't want the paths to be as wide as the beds, or I could use the same tractor). Will the chickens either mow or completely eliminate the grass in the paths so that I wouldn't really have to mulch or mow them? I could mulch them, but I'd rather have the chickens enjoy the grass and bugs and avoid the cost of buying mulch if I can.

    Any problems with this idea?
     
  2. Bullitt

    Bullitt Chillin' With My Peeps

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    It sounds like a great idea. They will eat bugs, till soil, and fertilize the soil all at the same time with your raised beds.

    If you leave the chicken tractor on a grassy area, the chickens will eat and scratch until there is just a dirt patch. So you will just have to move the chicken tractor when you think they have removed enough grass from an area.
     
  3. snoggle

    snoggle Chillin' With My Peeps

    Actually, I got to thinking after I posted and I do see one problem with the path clearing idea. It will leave me with a pure dirt path that will become muddy and lead to erosion.

    What if I made the path tractor with a hardware cloth bottom so that it is raised up a bit, maybe two inches above the ground, causing them to only "mow" the grass in the path down to a couple of inches tall? Would that be too hard on their feet? They wouldn't be in that tractor all the time - they have a proper coop as well which has a solid floor.
     
  4. Bullitt

    Bullitt Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Chickens need to scratch at the ground to be happy.

    I think your original idea would work as long you figured out how long to leave the chicken tractor in one place to allow the chickens to mow the grass without destroying the grass.
     
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2012
  5. snoggle

    snoggle Chillin' With My Peeps

    I can probably try it and if I'm not happy with the results (that they leave it too patchy, rather than evenly "mowed"), I can just have them clear the paths completely and then throw down mulch. It wouldn't allow for long term feeding via the paths, but is a decent compromise.

    Another idea would be to do the raised mower with ducks (I plan on getting some next year, but maybe I need to get them sooner [​IMG]). After all, they don't need to scratch. Again, they probably wouldn't be in there most of the time, so their feet would get a break when they are in their run, etc. Of course, geese are vegetarians, they might be better at this. Oh crap, this poultry math is getting dangerous!!! LOL!!!
     
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2012
  6. Bullitt

    Bullitt Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Geese in a "chicken" tractor might be the best option. I don't think you would have to have a raised floor because the geese don't scratch at the ground. I think a couple of geese could mow a lot of grass for you.

    I think if you moved the chicken tractor each day, the geese would keep the paths mowed for you.
     
  7. snoggle

    snoggle Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oh, my husband's gonna kill me if I get all these birds.

    Maybe I can convince him that he'll save all that mowing time and not have to spend as much money on gas for the mower. I've tried to convince him to let our horses eat the grass in the front yard, but this idea is actually a bit more practical.

    Of course, I told him he could get a beef cow, so maybe he'll play along. [​IMG]
     

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