In need of improvement

Missmaddymoo008

Chirping
Nov 27, 2020
26
53
54
Hi! I'm new to BYC and I just wanted to get a suggestion on my run. I have 4 2 year old Buff Orpingtons and 4 1 year old Cochins. We have separate runs since we don't really want to mix them. They do not have grass in their runs, due to when the buffs were young, they tore it up ( whoops ). Their ground is a mix of ( small ) rocks and mulch and bare dirt spots where they like to dig and take baths. We do give them " soft " places like putting ( safe ) lawn clippings, bedding, and hay so they have things to scratch and dig in. We put them in a barn at night, so we don't worry coop-wise. We don't know if the cochins would destroy a plant or not. I just want to give them something since I do feel bad that they can't access grass and weeds. Any ideas on what I could add to their runs? It is currently winter here in Indiana, so I can't grow anything instantly.
 

Hei 20

Free Ranging
Oct 8, 2020
1,926
10,853
501
Hi! I'm new to BYC and I just wanted to get a suggestion on my run. I have 4 2 year old Buff Orpingtons and 4 1 year old Cochins. We have separate runs since we don't really want to mix them. They do not have grass in their runs, due to when the buffs were young, they tore it up ( whoops ). Their ground is a mix of ( small ) rocks and mulch and bare dirt spots where they like to dig and take baths. We do give them " soft " places like putting ( safe ) lawn clippings, bedding, and hay so they have things to scratch and dig in. We put them in a barn at night, so we don't worry coop-wise. We don't know if the cochins would destroy a plant or not. I just want to give them something since I do feel bad that they can't access grass and weeds. Any ideas on what I could add to their runs? It is currently winter here in Indiana, so I can't grow anything instantly.
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BigBlueHen53

We will get through this... together!
Premium Feather Member
Mar 5, 2019
19,863
74,439
1,217
SE Missouri, USA
:frowHi and welcome to BYC. Just like any chicken, cochins will destroy plants either by eating them or by scratching, digging, or wallowing (dust-bathing) among them unless the plants are very sturdy and well-established. You'll need to protect the plants while they are young and tender. We have a very large run full of well-established, tough, native grasses, weeds and forbs that have stood up to our LF chickens for over ten years. Among these are a stand of lilies which provide shade for the chickens. Lilies are toxic to chickens, so the hens don't eat them. They hunt bugs under them and scratch in the cool dirt under them, which makes the lilies very happy. Good luck getting vegetation established for your chickies to enjoy.
 

Missmaddymoo008

Chirping
Nov 27, 2020
26
53
54
I thank everyone for the recommendations! It is sort of messy due to it being near winter and that they don’t go outside in the winter time. ( they stay in the barn in winter, due to Indiana willing to get under -3 degrees. Another question, are there any plants that can some how deter parasites and bugs but are safe for chickens?
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rosemarythyme

Scarborough Fair
Premium Feather Member
5 Years
Jul 3, 2016
17,850
35,743
1,062
WA, Pac NW
My Coop
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They don't necessarily need "green" - even piles of dried leaves or other bedding will fill that urge to dig around, especially in winter.

Otherwise, if you garden at all (or have a friend/family member who does) you can grow and then toss in quite a lot of garden trimmings when weather warms up. I gave my chickens the top of a 4 lb carrot (the leaves were close to 3' wide!) and they spent 2 days tearing at it. Today I just tossed in an entire cauliflower stalk minus the head.
 

3KillerBs

Enabler
12 Years
Jul 10, 2009
10,576
27,038
1,066
North Carolina Sandhills
My Coop
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Chickens of any kind will destroy nearly any plant you have in their area.

Some options to mix chickens and greenery include:

Using grazing frames to protect patches of grass -- the chickens eat anything above the wire but the roots survive.

Having a huge run/pen area with more space than the number of chickens can devastate.

Having a large enough run/pen area to subdivide it so that you rotate the chicken through multiple spaces, allowing the grass to recover before the chickens return.

Using a chicken tractor to move the chickens to fresh ground frequently.
 

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