Nothing for chickens to scratch at!

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by Chary, Apr 29, 2017.

  1. Chary

    Chary Just Hatched

    Apr 25, 2017
    I've owned chickens since I was born but surprisingly I barely know anything about taking care of them. My chickens have their own little space outside their coop where they can scratch. Lately though, it's been empty. Nothing to scratch at. Nothing to search for. Do I need to start turning the soil a bit to give them looser dirt to peck at?? Thanks.
  2. BYCforlife

    BYCforlife Chicken Obsessed

    Mar 18, 2017
    My chickens do fine outside, and my run is all dirt. If you want, you could put down a layer of grain and then a very thin coat of dirt to give the chickens some stuff to scratch at. I tried this, except covered it with hay, and they loved it!

    The chickens take things out of the dirt, like tiny stones and bugs, so it might help to turn up the loose soil for them. :thumbsup
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2017
  3. GC-Raptor

    GC-Raptor Overrun With Chickens

    Jul 26, 2016
    Connecticut, U.S.A.
    I clean my coop bedding weekly and dump it in their run. Twice a day I give them a mixed seed scratch scattered on top of the old straw bedding and they go nuts scratching through it to get the seeds.[​IMG] GC
    bbr292 and blackdog043 like this.
  4. ChickenMammX4

    ChickenMammX4 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 17, 2015
    SW Ohio
    Spread around some grass clippings, leaves, landscape weeds or hay. They'll love pecking through it for seeds, bugs or worms. Toss around some scratch, black oil sunflower seeds or mealworms.
    2 people like this.
  5. morganalefae

    morganalefae Head nut at the nut house Premium Member

    May 2, 2017
    Leicestershire UK
    Im new to owning chickens but from what I have been told and what I have read from books and magazines hay is a no no as it harbours moulds and such. As for grass clipping I would make sure they are small clippings like pellet size as long grass might cause them to get sour crop. If you can get some mix corn, dandelions the whole plant or maybe move their run so you can plant some grass.
  6. Kellycbf

    Kellycbf Out Of The Brooder

    Mar 15, 2017
    Midwest US
    I go to the garden, pull out a bunch of weeds and throw them into the coop. Mine will have a run built in a few weeks, then I will just throw it in there. I wold suggest that you throw some mulch into the run. Do you have a log or two? If so, put it in the run and in about a week, move the log to a new location, even just flipping it over. There should be bugs and such under the log for them to explore.

    If you have not, I would also suggest that you search for deep litter run or composting run or the like here on the forums.
  7. Wandercreek

    Wandercreek Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 24, 2017
    Texas Hill Country
    My chickens are free range from sun-up to sun-down on 50 acres. The only bare dirt over the whole farm is in the barn stalls and the chickens seldom choose to spend any time in there. However, as someone else said, I clean the coop and dump the bedding out on the ground for the chickens to scratch about in and they love it. They will ignore the entire farm in favor of picking through that pile of bedding. They go through it pretty fast though, so this is only a short-term solution (at least until you've accumulated enough to create a deep layer). Interestingly, they don't pay the bedding any mind while it is in the coop.

    I would suggest layering as much material as you can into the run. Grass clippings, raked leaves and even bagged wood shavings are perfect for this. If you give them vegetable scraps from the kitchen, bury what they don't eat loosely with the layered materials to attract insects and worms the chickens can hunt for. As kelbycbf suggested, a few logs will also attract insects. I do this in my grow out pen with the oldest, most rotten logs I can find on the farm because the chickens will also peck at the log itself to find the insects that are inside it helping it to decay.

    You can also hang bunches of vegetables like celery or lettuce in the run so that the chickens can 'jump' for it to get a bite. This entertains some of mine quite well and doesn't interest others at all. I sometimes cut a watermelon in half and let them eat all of it that they want, then I turn the empty half upside down on the ground - insects accumulate under it super fast.

    FWIW, I have no problem using hay. As long as you keep it loose and not wet and mucky, it's perfectly fine. My chickens love to explore the 300+ hay bales stacked in my barn. They've created tunnels all through it. I can only assume that they do this because they can find treats in them. I've never seen a mouse or rat in my barn, perhaps this is why.
  8. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Flock Master

    Nov 7, 2012
    Chary, it's good that you are seeing a need, and looking for a way to fix that. All of what chicken Mamm said. Turn that bare ground (IMO, bare soil is not a healthy environment whether it's in the chicken yard, or in the garden) into a deep composting litter. In addition to the items she suggests, you can add wood chips, and anything that you would toss into a compost heap (vegetable matter). You can also add the bedding that you remove from your coop. My goal is to have my DL 6" deep in both coop and run. I give my birds about a cup or pint of wheat every few days and they go to work, churning their deep litter up.
  9. azygous

    azygous Flock Master

    Dec 11, 2009
    Colorado Rockies
    When you're in between seasons and there isn't much in the way of weeds, grass, and bugs, I've found that giving my flock a flock scratch block really helps chase the boredom. TSC and most feed stores carry them. They're inexpensive and last quite a while.
  10. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Flock Master

    Nov 7, 2012
    It appears that OP has flown the coop.

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