Field gone wild?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by gabby3535, Mar 23, 2009.

  1. gabby3535

    gabby3535 Songster

    I have a 1 acre fenced field, in one corner of which sits my barn and now my chicken coop and 18 x 25 ft. run.
    I usually keep the field that it is beautiful, and looks like a golf course................but I am wondering..........
    now that the chickens live here, and this field will be their free-range area..........can I let the field grass grow long?
    I would keep a 3 foot (or so) mowed perimeter inside the fence line.......and perhaps cut a few 'pathways' thru the tall grass,
    just to keep things interesting for the chickens to forage thru...........................
    but will the tall grass be okay for them if they decide to eat it? Could they pull off too long a piece and get it stuck in their
    crops................or might they know better than that?

    I like the idea of letting the wildflowers come up, and letting the chickens not be so 'exposed' (vs if I keep the field mowed, that is),
    and for them to have some interesting 'paths' of mowed grass to wander down, etc..............but would this set-up be
    okay if they decided to eat the long grass?

    They will not be free ranging unless I am home, by the way..........and there will be 4 or 5 wood pallet tee-pees for them to
    seek shelter in, should a hawk fly over, etc...................

    What do you think?
    Do chickens and tall grass get along?
  2. Southernbelle

    Southernbelle Gone Broody

    Mar 17, 2008
    Sounds wonderful to me! Good thinking on the teepees for hawk protection. I've heard of impacted crops from straw, but it's not that common. Hay is digested pretty well. Mine usually tear hay and straw into little tiny bits, it keeps them busy and really helps with composting. If they have a choice, mine will pick through dry weeds and grass to get the tender new growth.
  3. illinichick

    illinichick Songster

    Mar 31, 2008
    SE Il
    I definately would NOT mow. I have 25 chickens and within a couple of months the grass was completely gone. My DH kept wanting to go in with the weedeater and I kept telling him to wait. I wish I had that grass back in there.
  4. Poler

    Poler In the Brooder

    Jul 1, 2008
    Albuquerque, NM
    The Chickens should have it mowed down pretty quickly, but if you do mow, be sure you know where all your chickens are!
  5. Jetlander

    Jetlander In the Brooder

    Feb 16, 2009
    Spokane, Washington

    The mower would sputter and red feathers would fill the air. I have heard of culling, but that would take it to another level! [​IMG]
  6. silkiechicken

    silkiechicken Staff PhD

    Depending on the number of chickens you have, one acre will take them a long time if ever to totally kill. Likely they will prefer fence lines and just in front of their door, but vegetation will be able to grow into a tall hiding place for them.

    With maybe 1 acre of cleared land for up to oh 30 some adult chickens to roam at one time, they loved to use the side walks and dig at the edges of fences. They killed all the grass right around the coop, but it is still very much covered in black berries most the year and grassy in places away from their main homes.
  7. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    Quote:As long as they have a ready supply of grit (you might want to provide some, not just rely on what they find in the soil, although in reality the latter may be adequate) you don't usually hear about free-range chcikens with access to long grass having much of any problem with it, AFAIK.

    They probably won't eat much of it though. They seem to prefer smaller more succulent leaves, both of grass and of broadleaf 'weeds'.

    FWIW, I'd suggest making the cleared area along the fenceline rather wider than 3'... reason being, it will grow more of the succulent young growth that they (like most livestock) prefer, and you probably don't want the strip so narrow that you are essentially chumming up the chickens to stand right *next to* the fence, to the great temptation of anything hungry that might happen to be passing by.

    Good luck, have fun,

  8. thedeacon

    thedeacon Songster

    Nov 14, 2008
    Tall grass is not the best for chickens. Some won't even venture into the tall grass. You may want to keep a couple of small spots, 4 x 4 or so for looks but the rest I would mow on the high setting. The high setting leaves plent of blade and grass tall enough to support an array if insects. The chicks are after the insects more than the grass. Less than 25 chicks will never kill this much grass. I might suggest a 3 x 3 plain dirt for chicken dusting. The dusting prevent mites, ect.

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