Keeping the grass

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Steve B, May 17, 2009.

  1. Steve B

    Steve B Out Of The Brooder

    Mar 10, 2009
    How many square feet of run do you think would be required to keep the grass in reasonable shape if I have 6 chickens? I realize it won't ever be perfect, but I was hoping to give them enough room to prevent it from being completey turned to dirt.

    Right now they have 150 sq. ft. and it has not been destroyed yet (after three weeks) but, I'm sure it will need to be expanded.
  2. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    If I recall correctly, Davaroo likes to quote the number 450 sq ft per chicken as what's required to keep an area grassy. That sound ballpark correct to me. Unless you have a REALLY REALLY LARGE area, I think you have to accept that it will gradually dwindle away to dirt and possibly a few tenacious weeds. Even in a large area, you will still have some bare-earth patches, where the chickens spend most of their time (e.g. the nice patch of shade in summer, etc)

    So, you may want to start getting used to the idea of a run containing something other than grass [​IMG] I chuck all my weedings etc etc in there, plus hay sweepings from the barn, and the chickens always have lots of fun stuff to pick through and after a few months I have nice material to compost too [​IMG]

    Good luck, have fun,

  3. Steve B

    Steve B Out Of The Brooder

    Mar 10, 2009
    Thanks - that's exactly what I was looking for.

    I'll probably have to make use of the chicken tractor I made and experiment a bit with free-ranging during the day. I have 3.5 acres - so it's just a matter of figuring out a way to spread their time around a bit. Hopefully, they won't roam too far when they are free ranging - I only have one neighbor within eyesight.
  4. rowdyrooster

    rowdyrooster Out Of The Brooder

    Apr 22, 2009
    What some are doing is making a two by four frame and covering it with heavy wire, laying it on the ground , wire up . I guess the way it works is if the hen can't get to the roots the grass will break off and not pull the root up . This will keep a green area for your birds . You will have to put some cross peaces to hold the wire up if you make big and depending on how heavy your wire is.

    Reg. [​IMG]
  5. Big dreams

    Big dreams Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 5, 2009
    If you have enough room you could devide your run and block off part as it starts to get torn up, rake and water it well and hope it grows as fast as they tear up the other part. ? I was trying to figure out how to do that myself.
  6. StrawberryHouseMouse

    StrawberryHouseMouse Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 23, 2009
    Cleveland, Tennessee
    Even when you let a bird free roam it will find a favorite spot and stay around there enough to start killing or eating all the grass. They love to also make a certain area bare for dust baths. So you should get use to the idea of loosing some grass if you want to keep chickens.
  7. Steve B

    Steve B Out Of The Brooder

    Mar 10, 2009
    I've already accepted it won't be perfect. Maybe if I give them a dust bath area that will help a bit also.

    Today I had them in a new part of the lawn in the chicken tractor I built. It worked well, except they spilled the water ... hopefully, it wasn't too early in the day when they did that. I'll free range them in a few weeks for periods in the day also and see how that goes.
  8. Imp

    Imp All things share the same breath- Chief Seattle

    I don't know if this would work, but could you just "lay a floor" in the run of something like 1/2 inch hardware cloth, stake it down, and let the grass grow through. The chickens might not be able to scratch it up.

    Imp- just a thought.
  9. Renee

    Renee Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 7, 2008
    I started out with the idea of keeping grass in the run, then settled for a moveable fence, to block off half the run to reseed, and now I have settled on the "salad bar" approach (2x2s about eight inches apart with hardware cloth on top).

    The problem with reseeding is that unless you can wait until the grasses are truly established (3 mos or so) the chickens will scratch it all up in one day.

    The salad bar has worked so far: it is narrow, so they don't poop on it much. If the grass continues to live, and they don't figure out how to dig under the wood, I might try a bigger salad bar.
  10. Judy

    Judy Chicken Obsessed Staff Member Premium Member

    Feb 5, 2009
    South Georgia
    I've also read you can maintain a pasture for them if they have about 88 sq ft per bird, but this requires fencing and reseeding alternating areas.

    I'm experimenting with a 75x75 yard for about 20 hens, with the use of temporary fencing and replanting for small sections.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 17, 2009

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