Planting in and around a chicken run

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by bbblown, Jan 12, 2014.

  1. bbblown

    bbblown Out Of The Brooder

    Dec 23, 2013
    Hi my name is Frank.
    I will be starting to build my chicken run in the spring.Does anyone know what could or should be planted in or around the run. Something like plants, grass, vegetables?I have heard it pays to plant certain vegetation around the coop to at attract bugs for the chickens to eat.I am not sure if this is true.I am new to raising chickens, I am taking my time to build a good functioning coop and run for them. I would love to hear any ideas you may have, and it would be greatly appreciated.
    Thanks again Frank
  2. kateseidel

    kateseidel Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 9, 2010
    My flock spends about half the day free ranging, but inside the coop I built several frame planting boxes. I grow wheat in one, and use a deer plot mix in the others (they like the wheat better). The frames are 2' x 2' (small enough so I can carry them around), built with 2x4s, no bottoms, with hardware cloth over the top. Because they are at the side of the run, they get enough light and water on their own. The wheat grows up through the wire, the chickens eat it down as fast as it comes up. I will probably put a couple of more in this spring, depends on how much time they have to spend locked up if our Coopers Hawks move back into the neighborhood.
  3. bbblown

    bbblown Out Of The Brooder

    Dec 23, 2013
    thank you i will keep that in mind
  4. Chemguy

    Chemguy Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 30, 2011
    Springfield, Ohio
    Nothing that is unprotected grows inside of our chicken run. It is approximately 15'x20' and eight hens keep it in bare dirt all year long. We do allow the grass to grow along the outside of the run, and this provides a steady supply of growing greens from April-October. We cut it down every so often and throw the cuttings into the run. We have also built some shallow frames out of 2x4, and covered one of the open faces with hardware cloth. We then sow grass seed, sunflower seed or even bird seed in the run and cover the area that was sown with the frame. Eventually, the sprouts reach the mesh and are eaten. After a couple of weeks the frame is removed and a new 'plot' started. This has worked well for us.

    As for planting around the run, we are about to try planting some fleabane and tobacco. Both will be planted out of reach of the chickens, and we hope that these will afford some small amount of bug control, though we haven't really noticed any issues to date.
  5. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe True BYC Addict

    Nov 23, 2010
    St. Louis, MO
    Smart idea. I only have one pen that doesn't allow for foraging. In that run I built a 2x4 frame 4'X7' with a support down the center and then laths across to support the 3/4" hardware cloth. During the growing season there are a few fresh greens the chickens go for each morning.
    I plant various things in it. As long as it will stay above 40 F I'll plant some buckwheat. If it's going to freeze I'll go for winter peas. Year round there will be oats, wheat, alfalfa, turnips, beets, radish.

    As Chemguy said, nothing unprotected will last inside a run. Some things that will last longer than others are alfalfa and dandelions because their taproots are so long.
    Success will also depend on your climate. If you're in the south or a Mediterranean climate there are a lot of evergreen flowering vines that would provide nice shade growing up a trellis a few inches from the run. In variable climates you can plant peas, beans, melons, squash etc. on the same type trellis and some of that will make it's way into the run which the chickens will eat.

    If you'll have them foraging outside the pen, I'd try to get some alfalfa growing out there. Hard to start but hard to kill once established. Everywhere there are dandelions and chickens, they eat the leaves and leave the flower. It looks strange for the flowers to stand there with no greenery around them.
    In my experience, chickens will eat some new grass sprouts but anything that is older and tougher they'll leave alone so if your grass plants are older, you'll still need to mow some of it.

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