1. pistolero

    pistolero Out Of The Brooder

    37
    11
    31
    Aug 24, 2016
    Raleigh, NC
    What would be good to plant in the free range part of our yard that would give the chickens good cover from hawks but won't get destroyed by the chickens?
     
  2. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener True BYC Addict

    19,536
    7,481
    546
    Nov 7, 2012
    CENTRAL MAINE
    Initially, anything you plant is going to be at risk until the roots are well established. you can put fencing around smaller shrubs, you can put paving blocks or rocks over the root zones to allow shrubs to get well established. It depends a lot on what you want your yard to look like. Groomed? A walk on the wild side? Are you urban or rural? How much space do you have? Is your yard fenced? My growing conditions are much different than yours, and I live very rural, so my needs and goals may be different than yours. In my yard, I leave a border of weedy growth all the way around the lawn. I've planted an orchard that will enventually provide some cover, as well as food for me, the chickens, and the wild life. I've planted perennials and shrubs/trees that will primarily feed chickens and wild life. Favorites: raspberries, june berries, high bush blueberries, high bush cranberries, elderberries. Apples and pears. Lilacs grow fast. Any shrub that fills in well will be enjoyed by them for shade, and I'm guessing they'll dust bathe under it, as well as use it for safe cover. Check with your state thread to see what plants do well for your chicken neighbors. Check with your local nursery and your county agricultural extension office.

    While you're waiting for the plants to establish, give them plenty of artificial cover: several pallets leaning against each other, some hay bales stacked so they can get under them, a table, swing set, any type of lawn furniture, potted plants. You could even erect a pole bean Tee-Pee in your lawn. Provide cover for your flock and harvest some veggies at the same time. I even put fiberglass posts randomly in their run, to clutter the air space in there (before I covered the run.) If they are out free ranging, I will stick posts in the lawn. You can also hang some CD's. They make great sun catchers, sending random flashes of light around the yard. Some folks string fishing line across the yard. A hawk is not going to want to dive into an area where he might snag a wing.
     
  3. pistolero

    pistolero Out Of The Brooder

    37
    11
    31
    Aug 24, 2016
    Raleigh, NC
    Good info, thanks! I want a couple elderberry bushes anyway. Good medicine to be made from them.
     
  4. pistolero

    pistolero Out Of The Brooder

    37
    11
    31
    Aug 24, 2016
    Raleigh, NC
    The area I want to put the coop/run in at the back of our property is not fenced in yet. Will address that before I start on the coop though. It's probably at least 50' by 50'. Want to make an 8' by 12' coop with a generous run (8 to 10' wide X 20' ish) but they'll have the rest of the 50X50 to free range. Sometimes the rest of the back yard too which is almost another half acre (already fenced). So the back end can be whatever makes the chickens happy. Figure to get 6 or 8 hens this spring but the room we have would allow (with more experience) chicken math growth, like up to 20 total with plenty of room I think.
     
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2016
  5. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener True BYC Addict

    19,536
    7,481
    546
    Nov 7, 2012
    CENTRAL MAINE
    Also, look at Siberian Pea tree shrubs and Bocking #14 Comfrey. Both high protein. #14 does not spread from seed, so is not invasive. But, if you plant it, be sure to put it where you expect it to stay forever as the root system delves deep (10' or more) to mine minerals from the soil. Excellent to add to compost, or simply to chop and lay at the base of other plants for mulch. Supposed to make a wonderful fodder for chickens and other grazing animals, but my birds haven't shown a lot of interest in it.

    You could also plant sunflowers, and various grains.
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by