How much ground cover can my hens mulch?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by lengel, Jul 6, 2008.

  1. lengel

    lengel Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 30, 2008
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    We have three foot hay on part of our land (short version is that someone planted on it without our permission). We are looking at farm tractors but for the short term, my gorgeous DH is building some chicken tractors so that the hens can help us out. We plan to drag the tractors around the field and see if they can help.

    What do you think? Are they going to be able to do much to clear the field in the next three months? It's less than a half acre and we have 16 hens and one guinea hen in three tractors.
     
  2. panner123

    panner123 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 15, 2007
    Garden Valley, ca
    Fence the hay and triple the number of hens and the hay will be almost gone in three months. I put 50 hens on an acre with foot high grass and in about three weeks it looked mowed. In five weeks there was bare ground.
     
  3. Akane

    Akane Overrun With Chickens

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    The chickens will probably take care of most of it. Otherwise you can't just mow it? Sorry I live in the middle of nowhere with 80acres of land and a half acre is probably the amount I cover with a weed whacker. When I bother to trim such areas at all. I doubt I'd even bother to touch a half acre and just get it early next year after it's died back over the winter.
     
  4. lengel

    lengel Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I was told that hay would ruin a lawn mower. Sounds like that's wrong. I love that the hens can rip it up to bare dirt in such a short time though. They fertilize too. I'm very happy about the possibilities now!

    PS We can't just fence because of the number and variety of predators in our area.
     
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2008
  5. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

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    Ontario, Canada
    Well, what do you want there instead of the hay? Chickens are not going to replace it for you [​IMG] - if you want crops, you will have to mow the hay, harrow the field probably, and then plant; if you just want grazing, go ahead and graze the field now; if you want natural-type meadow, just cut the hay and then ignore the field.

    Chickens WILL NOT eat much of 3'-high grass, and they WILL NOT kill the roots in any useful timeframe, I absolutely promise you.

    Sure you can't cut the hay with a lawnmower (it's not an issue of ruining; it's an issue of 'physically impossible'). If you had a wheeled stringtrimmer (the big heavyduty $600 kind) and LOTS of time, you could do it yourself. Heck, you could probably do it with a good sturdy 'regular' weedwhacker, if you had time. Or have a local farmer cut it for you (prolly not worth baling such a small amount, just leave it lay).

    But unless you disk and replant with something else, the grass will grow back. It takes months of constant hi-density 'chickening' to start to kill grass roots -- and even then, it is amazing what grass can come back from once chickens are removed, until the soil is completely poo-poisoned and compacted.

    Good luck,

    Pat
     
  6. Akane

    Akane Overrun With Chickens

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    Well I don't know if I'd use a push mower on it (those don't really exist out here with how much land everyone has to mow) but my stepdad gets the edge of the hayfield while mowing the lawn with his riding mower all the time. Doesn't ruin it. Might dull it a little if you mowed a large section or frequently did old grass that's been allowed to grow. The only problem I really see is if you have a short mower and the grass is really tall you might just flatten it instead of cutting it. Which is why I said I'd leave it and start cutting it next spring. I would think the chickens would shorten it for you though.

    You don't have to replant it if you just mow it as frequently as the rest of the yard to keep it as short. If trimmed frequently it won't get as tough as it is now and so shouldn't impact any lawn mower any more than lawn grass but it won't look as good. Grass for hay doesn't grow in nice dense soft patches like lawn grass. If you want it to match your lawn you will have to tear it up and reseed. Usually we tear up in the fall here and replant in the spring then not mow or use it until the end of summer.
     
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2008
  7. lengel

    lengel Chillin' With My Peeps

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    We want to plant vegetables and maybe a few fruit trees. It's what the area was used for as little as four years ago, before we bought the property from MIL. I've already started cutting out squares from the hay by hand down to a foot or so just so that we can get the chicken tractors in there.

    Well, it can't hurt to try it out. DH is almost finished with the first tractor and our non-layers need a job so we'll stick them out there and see what they can do.
     
  8. chickenzoo

    chickenzoo Emu Hugger

    If the chickens don't help enough, borrow someones horse/or mini . They'd have it mowed in no time, fertilized too....HaHa:lau
     

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