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Regrowing Grass

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by Dinosaur Gal, Jan 6, 2017.

  1. Dinosaur Gal

    Dinosaur Gal Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Im not sure if this is the right thread to put it in so sorry if its not! My chickens run is just bare dirt and i cant alow them to free range sadly cause of to many preditors in our area :( So my question is would it be a good idea to grow grass from seed in there run for them or not, and if so is there kind out there that would be natural not sprayed with pesticides or any chemicals to make it look and grow nice? Thanks so much! I appreciate all the help!

    -Ashley
     
  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    There are a few different things at play here. How many chickens do you have, from your signature I’d guess 4 or 5. How big is your run? That’s to determine chicken density. Where are you located? That’s to determine climate. What time of year is it? Is grass growing right now? Did your chickens wipe out all vegetation in your run or did you when you were building it?

    Chicken density is very important. In a smaller area a certain number of chickens will wipe out anything that grows. They’ll eat the vegetation and scratch up the roots and eat those also. Their poop can build up to a point that it can kill vegetation.

    In a larger area that same number of chickens will eat all the vegetation of the kinds they like but leave the stuff they don’t like. They especially like tender green sprouts. Their scratching and poop will keep some areas bare but you may need to occasionally go in there to cut down certain less-desirable plants to keep them from taking over.

    If you get an area big enough they don’t destroy all the good stuff. They still selectively eat the stuff they like and ignore the stuff they don’t so you may need to go in and mow to knock down the “bad” stuff and allow the good stuff to grow. That makes the area look a lot nicer too. You’ll still have some bare spots where they like to hang out and dust bathe, but with a low enough chicken density you can keep the area looking fairly nice.

    Some people will tell you how many square feet per chicken you need to maintain pasture. That means something if you are talking about a certain area, but as a number that covers all of us it is worthless. You need different areas per chicken in Miami, Denver, Fargo, or Tucson. Time of year and how much it rains makes a big difference too.

    I know of two ways to give them something green to eat, other than feeding them something like grass clippings or garden greens. Have a few different runs so you let some recover while they wipe out one. You’d have to have enough and they’d need to be big enough to give the others time to recover or they’ll probably still spend most of their time on bare dirt.

    Some people build frames in their runs and cover them with wire. These frames are tall enough so the grass or other vegetation can get their roots established so the chickens just break off bits that grow through the wire. They cannot scratch up the roots and don’t pull the roots out of the ground. That’s probably your best answer to give them something green to eat, at least in certain seasons. What kind of stuff you might grow in that frame will depend on your location and time of year. How much sunlight and moisture it gets would make a difference.

    Unless you have a really big area for your number of chickens you cannot grow anything that’s going to give you a cute green lawn. You might be able to give them something them to eat, at least some months of the year.
     
  3. chickens really

    chickens really Overrun With Chickens

    Just a thought?

    Go buy an electric poultry fence....I have one and only free range as you can sit out with them....That is what I do.......


    Cheers!
     
  4. Dinosaur Gal

    Dinosaur Gal Chillin' With My Peeps

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    @Ridgerunner

    Yeah our current run is 20ft by 16ft but its but metal fence post with chicken wire rapped around it. Its a blessing that nothings got to them so far but we do have a hawk issue in the spring and summer months we live in Wisconsin. Were planning on making the run a little smaller so that we can buld it with 2x3 posts and put hardware cloth all around and on top. I like the idea with the little cage so that grass can grow. I've also maybe thought about doing sprouting?

    @chickens really

    Hmm thats a good idea i may consider that the reason i dont let them out and watch them now is our run doesn't have a top and they could easily fly out and i dont what to give them any ideas ;)
     
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2017
  5. chickens really

    chickens really Overrun With Chickens

    What kind of Birds do you have?

    I have heavy breeds.....Although my Bantam never flies over either?......My Speckled Sussex does on occasion only because she likes me and follows me around like my Ducks.....lol


    My fence is 120 square feet and is ample room to free range in.....They have fun and then I herd them all back inside after an hour or two.....



    Cheers!
     
  6. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Chicken Obsessed

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    HI DG! Here's my thoughts: If you have hawk issues, you definitely need to get your run covered.

    I had electric poultry net (still have it, but it's now moth balled) and absolutely loved it b/c I could move their range fairly often to allow the grass to recover. But, they would fly out. Then the hawks moved in. I've had heavy hawk predation for 2 years now, so had to come up with a plan B. I built a 6' tall run around 3 sides of the coop, giving them 500 s.f. The run can fairly easily be covered with bird netting, but that can't be left up in the winter. The least bit of snow or ice will tear it down. Eventually, I hope to have it covered with more secure fencing. If you re-build your run, it's a good idea to have the fencing high enough that you can walk in the run, and configure it so that standard bird netting sizes will work for you. (most comes in 14' wide lengths). I expect I will eventually place my electronet around the orchard, with the configuration to allow me to put the bird netting over it.

    I grow sprouts for my birds in the winter. Very easy to do. It also breaks the monotony for a garden addict. It lets me play with seeds and water, and watch things grow! I also grow some sprouts for myself, though have yet to do so this winter. They get about 2 qt. of sprouts/week, though I could easily give them a qt./day.

    You can put a grow frame in your run, and that would give them access to grass, if you have it covered with fencing so they can't dig it up. I would plant a mixture of grasses and clover. I prefer to turn my run into a DL compost. Goal is to have about 6" or more of compost covering the whole run. This draws beneficial insects, as well as giving them access to beneficial bacteria, fungi, and What ever other goodies they find in there. Grass clippings, leaves, garden and kitchen debris, wood chips, litter from the coop (I use leaves in winter, and add grass clippings in the summer for coop bedding), and any other compostable material I can get my hands on.
     
  7. chickens really

    chickens really Overrun With Chickens

    Hi, for your Hawk issue, try plastic Crows and an Owl dummy in your yard....My friend did it last summer after the Ravens killed her Ducks.....

    Just a thought....Also you set it up to look natural with the Owl sticking out in view and the Crows further off a bit....No Hawk wants to be chased by either Bird....lol......


    Cheers!
     
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2017
  8. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Chicken Obsessed

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  9. chickens really

    chickens really Overrun With Chickens

     
  10. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Chicken Obsessed

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