Grass in the run area **(PICS)**

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by gotchooks?, Aug 25, 2008.

  1. gotchooks?

    gotchooks? Out Of The Brooder

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    Jul 17, 2008
    Southeast Michigan
    Hi there! I was hoping someone could help me with this. I have 8 hens and they have a 20'X18' run. I put sod down in the spring. My girls love it and I love the nice dark-yolked eggs they give me. These pictures show what I started with in May and what I have now. The last picture is a little soggy, taken after a hard rain.

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    I've read all the posts about folks not being able to keep grass in the run, but I have to try. I can't really let my hens free range because my neighbor has a young, smart black lab who "visits" often. Star is a sweetie, but I'm not willing to risk it. I do have a small pen (5'X5'X3' high), totally enclosed that I use to put 3 hens in to "mow" the grass in the main yard. I have to be there when they're in it since Star could plow into it.

    Should I just lay new sod next Spring? I was wondering if reseeding every couple of weeks would make a difference in how the grass looks at the end of the season? Is their poo killing the grass? I hose it down every few days to dissolve and break it up. Am I doing something wrong or is there a better way to do this? If I have to replace the sod each year, I will. I want to do all I can to have grass available to them in their run.

    Whew! Sorry that was so long winded. I hope someone out there is having some success with keeping grass in the run...I need help!:eek:

    Thanks, Jenn.
     
  2. theJH

    theJH Out Of The Brooder

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    Apr 30, 2008
    Good luck but I think you are in for a losing battle. I could not imagine resoding every year. That could become very expensive. You could try having 2 pins and rotating them. Their poo is just too hot for the grass to handle without a rest.
     
  3. bluie

    bluie Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Aug 18, 2007
    You have 45 square feet per chicken in that run. They have been in that run since May and its August and it looks great to me. Maybe the run is big enough that the grass can survive with that low concentration of chickens. Davaroo is always posting about how you need far more than the accepted 10 square feet per chicken to have a healthy situation. Maybe you have that. I wish I could have a run that big for my 7 chickens. I would probably never have to clean the run again. Hmmmm. Is it possible?
     
  4. greenthumb89

    greenthumb89 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 30, 2008
    pulaski wisconsin
    i take all my grass clippings when i cut the grass and spread it around in my run, the chickens love it and it helps with cleanup when i clean the run out
     
  5. ravenfeathers

    ravenfeathers Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 23, 2008
    vermont
    i think, short of resodding yearly, you're not going to be terribly successful with keeping grass in there. hosing it out probably helps a lot (the solution to pollution is dilution) but it's the chemical composition of poo, not the build up, that's the grass killer. it's not possible to remove enough of that to keep the grass from suffering. you might consider rotational grazing if you can design a way to split your run into smaller sections. liming and aerating the ground after the chickens have been on it would help it to heal faster while they worked on another area, but i think that's ultimately self-defeating, too, as it would cut down the available area at any one time and increase the amount of traffic and poo.
     
  6. Ga Chicken Mom

    Ga Chicken Mom Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jul 24, 2007
    Just wondering if you have asked your sod supplier how the sod is fertilized and rid of pests?
     
  7. Poulets De Cajun

    Poulets De Cajun Overrun With Chickens

    This is a GREAT topic. I was watching some home improvement shows over the weekend and thought about this.

    They are now making "faux grass" out of recycled plastic materials. It is supposed to be very eco-friendly, safe, and easy to install. They were suggesting it for drought stricken regions. It's almost like a carpet, but grassy like in texture. It has holes in the bottom for drainage, and never needs mowing!

    They recommended it for lawns, playground areas, under trees where grass doesn't grow etc.

    It would probably be perfect for runs. Chickens could never scratch it away, and every so often you could just go in with a hose and wash the droppings out.

    Here is a link that I quickly googled...
    http://www.newgrass.com/
     
  8. Jenski

    Jenski Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 17, 2008
    Middle Tennessee
    Wow! Frankly I am amazed there is so much as a speck of green in there, let alone a nice scattering of grass! Usually after chickens come onto the scene it ends up looking like the lunar surface.
     
  9. Poulets De Cajun

    Poulets De Cajun Overrun With Chickens

    I forgot also, the other thing you can try is rotating them from area to area, such as they do with cattle.

    You'd have to divide your run into halves or quadrants and move them to a different part every few days.

    This way they scratch the grass down in one area, and has a chance to grow back when they are moved to a different area.
     
  10. Wynette

    Wynette Moderator Staff Member

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    Sep 25, 2007
    Michigan
    I had the same situation happen, and I now have dirt. Just dirt. I take grass clippings in when I mow, but the pile of clippings gets soggy and gross and I know it's not good for them after the first day or two.

    I am in the process of adding a section to the back of my main coop that will be primarily (well, I say that now) use for grazing purposes, and I'm going to begin by giving them access to it only a few hours each night, when I get home from work. I'll monitor how the grass/weeds are holding up and then allow more time or less time, depending. I also have plans to split my run into sections (my current run is about 15 x 40 for 9 chickens), and re-seed whichever section's not being used currently. I would love to be able to have the 3 sections (two main run sections, new section) to use all day, and rotate them maybe 2 weeks at a time, then reseed in between, so there would be 4 weeks in between rotations. That would be enough time (I think) to regrow some grass in each one.

    Oh, BTW, your run is VERY nice!
     

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