Is having two runs going to work?


9 Years
Mar 6, 2011
Hello. I am a newbie and am trying to figure out our coop and run designs. I am going to get 5 hens and plan to have two runs that are about 100 square feet each. The girls will be able to go into one run until they turn it to dirt. Then I will close that one off and let them into the other one to allow the first one to grow back. Then I will switch them back and forth. I am hoping that this way they will always have a nice place with fresh plants and lots of bugs.

My question is this... How quickly will they be able to destroy 100 square feet? I am wondering if the area they turn to dirt will have enough time to grow back and instead of them having a nice fresh run, they're just going to have two dirt runs.

Thank you,
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It depends on your area, the soil, types of grass, etc.
I've had the best luck with running them only a coule days in each run, but they still manage to kill everything before long.
I don't really try hard though, so I'm sure others can help you out with more detailed experiance.
My 10 hens completely dug/scratched up an area that size in 6 hours once. (Full sized hens.) I had moved some temporary chicken wire fencing for them to get fresh grass and came back 6 hours later and it was mud. Now I dig up a square of sod and dump it in the run every few days for them to eat grass. I fill the hole with chicken poo. I have found it is less work than moving fencing around.


Now my silkies don't do that to grass nearly that quickly. They tend to gingerly eat the grass down.

My opinion is that the area would have to be much larger in both runs to keep foliage.

Also- your idea of two runs is really great, though, because of poo. The poo buildup in one run will be able to be washed away by the rain and will be clean when they get switched back.
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I have 22 bantams and three runs. One 30x16, one 16x16, and the last one 25x25. I use to have them separated for the same purpose, but it didn't work. It was green when I first started but it didn't last long. Now the three runs are connected to each other. The problem is that if they spend days in that area, they will pull and dig the grass out with the roots until there is nothing left to re-grow.
I am trying something else now. I am doing something that I read about here, and is call "chicken salad bar". It's a raise bed, with a net on top. You grow grass underneath and they will fertilize the ground as well. They can eat only the top of the grass without digging out the roots. I heard it actually works, but I have just started mine, so I wouldn't know for sure until is done and I have some grass.
You can see my “salad bar“ on my page. Hope this helped.
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Thank you so much for all the great information. While I am bummed at the fact that it doesn't sound like my two runs are going to work out in the way I had hoped, I am so glad to realize this now, BEFORE we build everything.

I love the idea of the "chicken salad bar" and I think we are going to give this a try. Arianna, are you going to use a special kind of net to cover it with? Do you have to worry about their feet getting caught in it or anything?

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