Question about St Augustine grass and Free roam hens

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by NguyenA1, Mar 24, 2011.

  1. NguyenA1

    NguyenA1 Out Of The Brooder

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    Mar 24, 2011
    I'm trying to plan ahead to see if I really can live with 2 hens. I want them to be free roaming chickens in my 50' by 70' back yard. If I have to keep them confined in a coup or section off a tiny area of my yard, I don't think I want hens at all then. I'll end up neglecting them and just forgetting about them. Same goes for a tractor coup style.

    However, I love my st augustine grass. I get my grass nice and thick and full for the summer. St augustine has thick grass blade and grows on runners.

    I'm debating between Ameraucana, cochin, brahma, and silkie hens.

    Would letting those two just free roam my entire yard completely destroy all of my st augustine? Or do they just eat the tips? I live in central texas where the summer time it gets 100+ for most of it. So I need to keep the grass fairly thick in order to retain water moisture in the ground.

    I assume getting bantams would help my grass out because they won't eat as much as regular chickens?

    I was thinking, could I feed em alot of chicken feed in the morning, and they would get full off that and not pick on the grass so much?
     
  2. momtotnt

    momtotnt Out Of The Brooder

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    Feb 20, 2011
    My chickens in Fl are on my St. Augustine. I built a new run due to predators and had to line the bottom with chicken wire. I needed a covering over it, so I actually just recently sodded their run a couple of weeks ago. I read here that chicken's poop makes for good fertilizer. We shall see.
    Yes, they just pick to eat at the tips. However, what I'm noticing is that it's their scratching that is tearing it up. In addition, their bedding(?) habits - when they decide that they want to lie down somewhere and "prep" the area before they lie.
    Not sure how it would work if they could run the whole yard. I suppose it would depend how often they are out on it.
     
  3. FireTigeris

    FireTigeris Tyger! Tyger! burning bright

    I had 7 hens at first and a 30' X 100' yard - it was destroyed in months- but the cover wasn't good to begin with (full shade).
     
  4. NguyenA1

    NguyenA1 Out Of The Brooder

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    Mar 24, 2011
    momtotnt, I was planning on leaving them out there all day and put the 2 hens back in their coups at night. Let yours loose for the next few days and share the experience. [​IMG] Kidding.

    KC gave me a good point. If I leave them out all day, and I do choose to get a silkie, hawks may carry her off huh. Would a hawk or any other day aerial predators go for hens that look bigger? Maybe a buff brahma?

    Sorry to hear about your yard FireTigeris.

    I think I'd really like to try to have 2 hens have free range of the yard. I do have a 15'x12' section of garden that I might have to fence off. Hopefully 4' of chicken wire will keep them out. Really though maybe I'll make a 5x5 pen for them when my vegetable plants are still small until they get bigger. I also have a 32' row of raspberry and blackberry plants that they hopefully will not destroy any new growing canes.
     
  5. FireTigeris

    FireTigeris Tyger! Tyger! burning bright

    In my experience in Fl during Hawk migration- lighter colored birds, oblivious birds and solid colored light birds were taken first.

    Look at your ground cover what colors would blend in,

    in MY yard silver/SL, white, and buff birds were dead birds-

    black, partridge, and wheaten, gold lased did well.

    I found that my predator issues caused too many losses for me so I have a covered run and closed system coop.

    -------------

    Remember any day where you have low light (full/heavy cloud cover-the kind that turns on your dusk to dawn lights) the "nocturnal" (really crepuscular) will be active at any time there is not too much light (so the feel safe from diurnal predators), these critters include coons and foxes, also younger owls (not so much possums- they are usually considered actually nocturnal).
     
  6. bgelber

    bgelber Chillin' With My Peeps

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    A good healthy stand of grass will hold up to two hens free ranging.

    Last year at one point I had over 30 hens in my back yard which is about 1/8 of a acre, I had the most beautiful dark green bermuda that I had ever seen. My husband even joked about putting a couple in the front yard.
     
  7. galanie

    galanie Treat Dispenser No More

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    Quote:I think bermuda grass will thrive even after a thermonuclear bomb! Man, do I hate that stuff. It's great if you want it, but it's so invasive. I have no idea if your grass will withstand 2 hens. I doubt it will remain the lovely carpet you seem to be farming at the moment, I think it will at least have a few areas scratched out. Mine mostly like to dig around under mulches and around the edges. I still have my St. Augustine but I have 4 hens in an area roughly 150' x 175'. I dont' really care about a wonderful, carpetlike covering. But it looks like that is what is coming in since the hens have taken out a lot of the weeds. It will be funny to have a better yard after hens than before. LOL
     
  8. dawg53

    dawg53 Humble

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    Jacksonville, Florida
    My chickens love to tear up St Augustine grass. I USED to have a nice looking backyard, now it looks like a barren desert pock marked minature minefield.
    I lost one of my big Barred Rock hens to a hawk 2 months ago. If a hawk is hungry enough, it'll go after any kind of chicken no matter the size or color.
     
  9. FireTigeris

    FireTigeris Tyger! Tyger! burning bright

    Quote:true and if they can't carry it they will eat on the ground- a rooster will attack a grounded hawk...

    but for the most part with ground color chickens and plenty of cover and hanging 'wind chimes' made out of CD's you can mitigate hawk attacks.
     
  10. Pinky

    Pinky Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:I think bermuda grass will thrive even after a thermonuclear bomb! Man, do I hate that stuff. It's great if you want it, but it's so invasive. I have no idea if your grass will withstand 2 hens. I doubt it will remain the lovely carpet you seem to be farming at the moment, I think it will at least have a few areas scratched out. Mine mostly like to dig around under mulches and around the edges. I still have my St. Augustine but I have 4 hens in an area roughly 150' x 175'. I dont' really care about a wonderful, carpetlike covering. But it looks like that is what is coming in since the hens have taken out a lot of the weeds. It will be funny to have a better yard after hens than before. LOL

    I HAD bermuda grass in my chicken run.I thought it looked nice. Apparently the chickens thought it looked tasty. Everything, including roots were eaten. All that remains is what was under an old bird cage [​IMG] and they try their best to get it.
     
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2011

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