ground cover for chickens

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by pattyl110, Jun 17, 2011.

  1. pattyl110

    pattyl110 Out Of The Brooder

    Mar 17, 2011
    I have 4 girls in Florida, I did not realize they liked ferns so much. In the area I keep the coup and let them run, they have eatean all the ferns, gone. Now I have dirt. I keep pine shavings in the coup, but outside was wondereing what I could plant for cover so its not all dirt.

    Also, they are 4 months old, when should I really expect eggs?[​IMG]
  2. chicklover16

    chicklover16 queen of flirts

    Jun 3, 2011
    Em's Dungeon
    I'm not sure about a ground cover, but I know that most hens start laying at about 24 weeks.
  3. KFox

    KFox Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 19, 2011
    I am new to this so maybe someone else will have a better idea.

    I let my chickens free range my yard. The yard is fenced in and I have shrubs, plants, trees, flowers and vegetable gardens. Anything I want the chickens to stay out of, I put little plastic or metal 12" things around. I got some plastic flower type borders from the dollar store. The girls could easily cross but they don't. I also give them things to keep them busy in the yard. I have cement blocks that I put treats on and around, old tree limbs for them to climb on and things like that. I also rearrange a landscaping timbers on concrete blocks (think balance beam) daily. Sometimes I make one side higher, sometimes I change the directions. Anyway, this keeps them out of my things. The sunflower garden makes it difficult for my ladies to contain themselves. I put tiny hooks on each side and hang shiny wind chimes. What chicken can resist the shiny? When it's pecked, it startles them and they run from it OR I hear it and catch them in the act.

    Hope some of my ideas are helpful.
  4. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Chicken Obsessed

    Nov 12, 2009
    western South Dakota
    I put hay in my run, in a big pile, and they scratch through it in great delight. I use old hay too, the love finding weed seeds, and any bugs. After a couple of weeks of scratching and pooping on it, I rake it all up and place on a compost pile to be used on the following year on my garden. You have to have a very very large area or tractor them where you move them each day to allow any thing to grow. They will eat or scratch it all bare, no matter what the vegetation is.

  5. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    I don't know of anything you can plant in your run that they won't kill. What they don't eat they scratch up. I think if you keep chickens in a run, you have bare dirt. I don't like any type of organic ground cover in the run, such as wood shavings, wood chips, pine needles, or straw. It can get wet and hold moisture and mold, which is bad for the girls. I think you are better off with the bare dirt. I do put bales of wheat straw inthe run for them to thresh and rip the bale apart so I can use it for mulch in my garden, but I do not leave it in there when it gets wet.

    When will they lay? When they are ready and not until. It depends some on breed and some on the time of year. Each one is still an individual and will lay in her own time. It is possible that they can start to lay as young as 16 weeks, but not real likely. Usually, with maybe 10 dual purpose pullets of hatchery stock, I get my first egg around 18 to 20 weeks. Usually, by 23 to 24 weeks, about half are laying. Most have started by 27 to 28 weeks, but occasionally some can wait a whole lot longer. This is for chicks hatched in the spring so they reach laying age during the summer. Extreme heat can delay this or drop production too.
  6. mulewagon

    mulewagon Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 13, 2010
    I have sevenbark, privet, muscadine vines, greenbrier, and young poplar trees surviving in my run. (I cut the greenbrier, it's horrid thorny stuff!) If you plant anything, put a wire ring around it until it's well established.
  7. You have options for your run. You can leave the dirt, use sand, or use pine shavings. Both hay and straw will work but the straw takes a long time to break down in composting. "IF" your run is big enough you can seed with grass as long as it has time to sprout and grow without to many chickens pecking at it.

    Egg laying starts at different ages with different breeds. Some breeds like leghorn and sex links begin laying earlier than most. My Sex Links and Leghorns have started to lay at 17 and 18 weeks whereas my EE's haven't started to lay until 6 1/2 months old. Personall experiences here, so I'm not dictating when yours will begin laying. But looking for the first egg is always enjoyable no matter what age.

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