Pastured chickens

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by cleoppa, May 28, 2012.

  1. cleoppa

    cleoppa In the Brooder

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    All right. I have a few questions about pastured chickens. I currently have 6 hens in... I think about 200 square feet of space, if I remember correctly. They've eaten most of the foliage they want to eat back there. I can let them out in my yard--a city yard, but large by city standards. But when I do that, I need to make sure I don't accidentally let my dog out at the same time. And, of course, the dog needs some outdoor time too.

    So... considering this, a few questions:
    Do you save much by way of food by letting them have lots to graze on?
    The really good, healthy eggs--with dark yolks--do you think I'll get those if I don't let them out? There's still plenty of bugs and seeds in their pen, but obviously not as much. (They're just 3 months old right now.)
    Do chickens do anything to help lawns stay mowed?

    Thanks!
     
  2. Erica

    Erica Songster

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    Dec 5, 2010
    Hi cleoppa,

    Plenty of people keep chickens permanently in pens. As long as the diet is fully formulated they'll be fine. Egg colour will improve greatly if you hang greens daily in the pens (e.g. spinach, kale, weeds). I've been known to go out daily and snip grass up with scissors. Whatever works for you. [​IMG]

    But alternatively you might consider a sturdy tractor, and some dog training, or a properly partitioned yard.

    best of luck
    Erica

    Edit: didn't answer the save money question... When you first let birds out you'll find they rarely eat much other than what they forage for, so feed savings are high. However in a fairly short time they tend to eat out all of a yard's insect goodies, and then they start to rely more heavily on the feed hopper. As a result the savings are very variable and can go down to nothing when range food is scarcer.
     
    Last edited: May 28, 2012
  3. Den in Penn

    Den in Penn Songster

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    What Erica said. About chickens mowing the lawn. They do a lousy job. Uneven, high in places, to the ground in others. If you want to have an animal mow you lawn hire a couple of sheep. they get it even and putting green close to the ground.
     
  4. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Crowing

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    feed saving will be quite small to non existent in a limited yard.

    It depends also on where you are. I live in South Dakota, on a ranch, and mine most days are free range as in an acres. They could go anywhere, they tend to stay fairly near the buildings most of the time. In June, July and part of August, I notice a decrease in the amount of feed used, but they still eat feed. As the summer insects begin to hatch out, but by late August, the bugs here are waning, and by September, they are not such a good protien feed, and my feed usage goes back up.

    If you live farther south, the vegetation and insects will be more prevalent for a longer period.

    However, a little vegetation is still good for them, and will improve your egg color. Even if they are not subsisting on your lawn, they will love the variety and the exercise is good for them.

    However, they will destroy your lawn and garden if they are left out too long too often.

    MrsK
     
  5. ButchGood

    ButchGood Songster

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    I have mine on an acre and a half just recently fenced. Ive noticed they hit the feed hard in the morning when they first come out of the roost. Then they head out. They won't touch the feed again until the evening right before the head back to roost. The last 2 weeks Ive saved about 50% on feed. Like I said, my birds have 1.5 acres to wander. But they will aways be where they can cause the most trouble. If you have flower gardens not fenced say good bye to them. If you have potted plants better hang them high. Ive fenced them out of my vegetable garden and my herb garden. That's the only way to keep them out of areas you don't want them. If you don't want them there...that's where they will be found.
     
    Last edited: May 29, 2012

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