free ranging grass versus dirt

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by RoosterDon, Nov 25, 2014.

  1. RoosterDon

    RoosterDon Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 19, 2014
    Austin Texas
    I fenced in an area roughly 1,000 square feet which started out with a lot of great ground cover. The free range area is sheltered by cedar trees which prevents most hawks from being able to swoop in. But there is not a lot of sun as a result. So in just a few months our 8-15 chickens have turned the entire free range area to dirt. We were letting them out to rummage around outside the fenced in area but got some complaints from neighbors about them wondering into their yards, so we have had to cease doing this.

    So, are we still really free ranging? I am not sure if they still get the benefit of bugs and all that they get from foraging through grass and brush. They benefit from their dirt baths and seem very happy, but this was not the plan, to have them just free ranging on dirt.

    There is no hope in planting grass. They would never give the grass a chance to grow.

    Any suggestions?
  2. CliffB

    CliffB Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 5, 2014


  3. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    They are probably still getting some bugs...and sounds like they have plenty of room to scratch...just no greens to freely forage, tho the grazing frames shown above can help.

    The semantics of 'free range'.... 'pastured'...'cage free'....IMO is all mostly marketing term/buzzwords, often misused.

    My birds are also confined and I provide them with greens(grass clippings, garden/kitchen scraps/other plants) and have some grazing frames to preserve some of the grass and grow other grain 'grasses' for them to munch on. I figure they have it better than some in that they are protected from predators, and worse than others might that range freely.

    I've made several grazing frames and far prefer the ones where the edges of the mesh are covered so chicken feet won't get cut. 1/2 x 1/2 mesh for thin leaved grasses and 1x2 welded wire for larger leaved plants.

    Last edited: Nov 26, 2014

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