Planting in a coop

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by jgiajnorio, Feb 3, 2013.

  1. jgiajnorio

    jgiajnorio Out Of The Brooder

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    Apr 4, 2011
    Hi there, I have about 15 birds, looking to add more to our flock, just waiting on the new hen house to come this weekend. I would like to plant some ground cover to help give my girls some shade, cover and forage. We feed our birds just about anything at this time, as well as a layer pellet, so feed isnt my top priority. I would really just like to add some tall grass' for looks and to keep them busy. I was thinking sorghum..id be curious to know your thoughts.


    I understand growing is quite difficult to do inside the coop, as my coop sits inside our horse paddock, roughly 3ft away from our electric fence, growing on the outside of the coop is not an option. I plan on putting up a fence to keep my girls from the area i plan to grow until the plants get started.
     
  2. Mac in Wisco

    Mac in Wisco Antagonist

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    How big is this area? Fifteen birds will lay a small pen bare pretty quickly.
     
  3. WalkingOnSunshine

    WalkingOnSunshine Overrun With Chickens

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    Don't put in anything that gets tall--the hens don't like it. You'll end up mowing it for them. I can always tell when the chicken pasture grass gets too tall because the birds stop ranging to the back of the pasture and spend all their time right up near the coop scratching any grass into oblivion. Hens can be really hard on turf in a small area. We finally bought a couple of goats to help keep the grass short for the hens.

    also, remember that you'll have to exclude your hens from the coop until whatever you plant gets well established--a month, at minimum. Those hens will destroy any seedlings.
     
  4. jgiajnorio

    jgiajnorio Out Of The Brooder

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    Apr 4, 2011
    thank you, I plan to add a pair of pygmy's perhaps this summer. The outside portion of the coop is probably 1200sq foot roughly, say 30x40.

    in quick, we spent about 2 yrs getting out land to the point we could get buildings put on it and the horses turned out. when we bought it it was all brush and forest. where my coop is now, they have some decent tree cover in the summer, but the little grass and moss was quickly destroyed. I do not mind my coop being bare, but if it meant a couple hours work one wknd, I would have no problem seeding and sectioning off 3/4 of the coop so the girls could have something to do in the summer
     
  5. amandalux

    amandalux Out Of The Brooder

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    Jan 22, 2013
    Hi, I am a little new to the chickens, but I love to garden!
    Chamomile would be a good one because it won't grow up like a tree and it can handle some wear and tear. Some people use it instead of grass because you can walk on it. Plus the scratching will smell awesome! Peas, which would fix nitrogen in your soil too, if you didn't trellis them they would grow all over, although i'm sure the chickens would destroy them. However, I'm sure they would grow up your fencing. Clover would fix nitrogen too.
    I would section your pen off in stages so that you keep planting new things for them to eat and scratch up. Things that grow fast radish, lettuces, and greens. Also plants that act like a weed then you wouldn't have to keep replanting them jerusalem artichokes, sunflowers, cress, mint, comfrey...Then I would also consider some cool weather crops winter rye, vetch would be good too. They are used as fodder for other livestock, so I would assume it would be fine for chickens.
    One last idea, if you decided on a mix of plants (this is what I would do) you could buy bulk seeds and make a mix in a container one for cool weather one for warm, then just sprinkle on you fenced off area, this would make it easier to fit into your chores. Once the section gets bald put up the fence and replant.
    But more importantly I would just try it! See what works best in your climate, see what they eat what they don't like. I'm sure with their own little garden you will have the happiest chickens around!
    Good Luck
    Hope that helps!
     
    1 person likes this.
  6. Mac in Wisco

    Mac in Wisco Antagonist

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    You might be able to sustain something there. If you want good results I'd get a soil test done and add lime and fertilizer as necessary. I'd go with a good pasture mix versus one variety of grass. Ryegrass or oats in the mix will be fast germinating and act as a nurse crop to slower growing legumes. The rest of the mix could be grasses such as tall fescue, brome, timothy, or bluegrass and legumes such as red clover, birdsfoot trefoil, or alfalfa. I'd check with someone who is familiar with growing conditions in your area to suggest a particular mix as the cool season grasses I suggested would be great for me in Wisconsin, but may not be appropriate for your area depending on the climate.
     
  7. WalkingOnSunshine

    WalkingOnSunshine Overrun With Chickens

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    You definitely do have something to work with. Personally, I'd plant a pasture mix, same as you would for the horses. The goats will do a fine job keeping the grasses short for the hens. A pasture mix is nice and tough, so it will stand up to scratching once it's established. And it draws a nice ecosystem of bugs, which is really what you want it for. The hens will eat a bit of it, especially the more tender grasses in the spring, and if you drill some alfalfa in that mix, they'll love that. But mostly, they want to catch bugs.

    Since you have enough space, definitely section off 2/3 of it to let the grass grow until it's well established. This photo was taken to show the chickens gleaning the cherry tomatoes, but you can see a bit what chickens do to pasture. The area near the coop is bare, as you can see under the tomato plant. Then you see more tufts of grass the further back you go from the coop, until the back of the pasture is all pasture mix. The fenced area is 75'x125', and we have 50 hens.

    [​IMG]

    I hope that helps!
     
  8. jgiajnorio

    jgiajnorio Out Of The Brooder

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    Apr 4, 2011
    Thanks that's a great idea. Helps a lot
     
  9. coopscritters

    coopscritters Out Of The Brooder

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    Feb 1, 2013
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    We have had a difficult time growing anything in the pen. Fencing off a section is the only thing that really works. I recently planted a mulberry tree just outside the fence and am looking forward to the berries dropping right where we need them. i also grow tons of beans up my coop fence. this makes some shade and they look beautiful especially scarlet runners.
     
  10. esoaksranch

    esoaksranch Out Of The Brooder

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    Jul 17, 2011
    I was thinking about red and white clover. Any thoughts?
     

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