Fall / Winter time for my "natural free range wanna be" run?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by MIKE555444, Sep 21, 2009.

  1. MIKE555444

    MIKE555444 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jun 8, 2009
    Pliny, West Virgina
    I built a nice size run that is about 25' x 30' This year. It has worked great for 15 chickens all summer and the vegetation has flourished all year. This gives me over 50 s/f per bird and they had plenty of clover/grass all summer.

    So as winter approaches I am concerned that this run will not get the boost its needs to maintain vegetation all summer next year without a break during the fall/winter... aside from building a whole new winter run what can I do? Will they pick it clean now that the fall/winter is creeping up on us?

    Any chance I’m wrong?

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  2. faykokoWV

    faykokoWV Mrs Fancy Plants

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    I guess great minds think alike because I was wondering the same thing about my run. There's lots of grass in it now, but I can see it
    may thin a lot over the winter. I was considering planting some sort of "cover crop" but i wasn't sure if they would eat it as fast as it grows. I did read one tip on here about covering the run with a thick layer of hay. the hay will seed underneath, give them stuff to munch on and provide some heat in the run as it composts.

    I think i may do half the run in the hay and overseed some clover on the other side.. see which one does better?
     
  3. LynneP

    LynneP Chillin' With My Peeps

    You could subdivide the run, but your biggest challenge is going to be predation. You can always breing fresh treats to your birds, but I'd be concerned about roofing part of that area.
     
  4. MIKE555444

    MIKE555444 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    You are right, I could run a divider fence inside the run I suppose. The dividers would not have to be preditor proof since the main fence is already safe. BTW I have added electric fence to this run since these pictures were taken so I feel like it is safe. Maybe I could design it so I could easliy change to the other run when needed. It would reduce my 50 s/f per bird to only 25 s/f though [​IMG]

    If I put a divider in I could go ahead and seed new grass in it as well faykokoWV.... hmmm that could work
     
  5. minge

    minge New Egg

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    Can anyone give me advice about the winter coming and caring for our 2 chickens and two mallard ducks. Its getting down to 30 degrees at night and will get colder. They have a nice large dog house in a 9'x12x coop where they are laying for shelter. We plan to construct a larger shelter around the house in the coop and place a heat lamp in there. But until then I am worried its getting too cold. How cold can the temp get till they absolutely need a lamp?

    Thanks!
     
  6. MIKE555444

    MIKE555444 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jun 8, 2009
    Pliny, West Virgina
    [​IMG]

    Well... I would think you would be ok for now but as it gets colder you will need that heat lamp. What breed are they? Have you considerd adding a few more birds? If you had 4 or 5 chickens they would huddle together and use thier body heat to help keep them warm.
     
  7. faykokoWV

    faykokoWV Mrs Fancy Plants

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    Mike, do you have any thoughts one what a good cover crop or self feeding crop besides grass might be?

    I think the decrease in sq ft might be ok since its a temporary, you wouldn't need to do a full 1/2 even, you could do 1/3. I am still wondering if there's something to plant that won't be decimated by them before it has a chance to provide some food.
     
  8. MIKE555444

    MIKE555444 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:I was just thinking grass but something else might be better. Something that grows fast and is harty??
     
  9. MIKE555444

    MIKE555444 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jun 8, 2009
    Pliny, West Virgina
    Hmmm just found this... wonder if this might work?

    ------------------------------------
    Item Name:
    Ryegrass, Alamo Tetraploid
    Item #:
    RYGAL
    Price:
    $18.00


    SOLD IN THE 50LB BAG.

    Planting rate: 20 lbs drilled - 35 lbs broadcast

    Cold season grass used for overseeding/winter forage.


    Tetraploid Ryegrass have twice as many chromosomes for a total of 28 chromosomes. This changes the plant characteristics so that tetraploids have larger cells with more water, larger but fewer leaves, & taller darker green plants with larger seeds. A very fast establishing cool season grass used for forage & overseeding while maintaining excellent forage yields throughout the grazing season.

    Links:
    http://www.dkseeds.com/shop/item.asp?itemid=124
    http://hubpages.com/hub/Winter-Grass
     
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2009
  10. faykokoWV

    faykokoWV Mrs Fancy Plants

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    That sounds like an idea. I wonder if just regular rye grass would get the job done for half the price?


    lol, I feel like we're the blind leading the blind.. I was really hoping one of the more experienced chicken owners would chime in and say

    " I plant /// every fall and //// every spring."

    you know what it is, we are the most brilliant people on this forum and we're the only ones that have ever thought of it.... [​IMG]
     

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