1. maysorum

    maysorum In the Brooder

    Apr 5, 2011
    Hello, I'm thinking about adding sod to my 1600 sq feet run. The sod will be in place for several weeks before the 12 chicks are old enough to enjoy the outdoors. Also, the run is constructed in a way that will make it easy to section off grassy areas that need a break from chickens. I know that chickens tend to de-vegetate everything, but I was wondering how quickly they would decimate the grass? Is this a terrible idea even if I can manage wear and tear?
    Last edited: May 25, 2011
  2. chicknbuns

    chicknbuns In the Brooder

    Jul 25, 2010
    I extended our run out over part of our yard so the chickens would have more room. I built a frame of 2x4s and put hardware cloth over the top so the grass would grow up through it but the chickens couldn't dig up the roots. Works like a charm!!![​IMG]
  3. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    Well, you can try it, but unless you can get the sod to establish unusually-deeply unusually-fast I think you're likely to lose most of it.

    Can I suggest your best bet would be to have a "sacrifice paddock" that you KNOW will go to dirt, or sand or whatever else you choose to add, and this is the chamber that the chickens walk out into when they first exit the henhouse. It then has one or more gates/popholes/whatever to allow CONTROLLED access into parts of the larger sodded area.

    You then essentially do rotational/managed grazing, where the chickens are allowed onto a fraction of the grass at a time (not all of it) and only until they get it chewed down to the point of *almost being ready to begin maybe* damaging it. At that point they are rotated to a different section of the grass, and so forth and so on.

    At times of the year when the grass is growing fast (at least, once it has fully established deep roots, which won't be til the end of the season this year) you MAY have enough area to keep them constantly rotating thru different grass paddocks. However if (as will sometimes happen, I can pretty much guarantee it) you find that at the point when they need to exit the "last" grass area, the "first" one is not yet grown back enough to really bear more chicken traffic, then you keep them confined to the sacrifice paddock until the grass is once again ready to accept them without serious setback. You can always chuck stuff in from elsewhere if you want them to have greens and toys while they are confined to the sacrifice paddock.

    Generally you don't want the grass to get shorter than maybe 1.5-2" at the shortest (in order not to damage its ability to recover), although with chickens you also have to keep an eye on whether they're scratching around enough that it's getting *sparse* even if it's not quite that short yet.

    Good luck, have fun,

    Last edited: May 25, 2011
  4. ChickensAreSweet

    ChickensAreSweet Heavenly Grains for Hens

    They will decimate it in time. I have a dirt run and give them 2-3 inch (too long can impact their crop) grass clippings every day (with yard scissors or pull it by hand).

    Works for me!

    Their run is about I think 80-100? feet by ?30 feet-
    here it is, 30 chickens and no grass:
    Last edited: May 25, 2011
  5. Agree with the above posters. If your run was 50 feet by 100 feet, 12 scratching hens will reduce it to dirt within 6 weeks or faster. It's what they do. Grass heals, but not fast enough to stay ahead of a dozen full sized birds.

    Great visual ChickensAreSweet. [​IMG]
  6. Capvin

    Capvin Songster

    Apr 13, 2011
    Lake Placid, FL
    When I was building my run I made it half grass sod and half sand thinking they would have the best of both worlds. The sod had plenty of time to root and grow before the chicks went in. They were only about 6 weeks old when they moved in and it only took them less then two weeks to decimate the sod. Just won't work.
  7. kichohana

    kichohana Songster

    Dec 28, 2009
    Johnston County, NC
    Sod would be nice for a chicken treat, but not for long term. [​IMG]
  8. gjensen

    gjensen Crowing

    Feb 22, 2011
    Midlands, South Carolina
    Sod is an expensive treat. I do lime and till my runs after I "solarize" them. I plant a temporary cover and allow it to establish before they have access. The reasoning behind it is to "clean" the run, but they get a less expensive treat in the process.

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