Thinking About Getting New Chickens that "Scratch Less"

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by JessRoll, Jul 1, 2012.

  1. JessRoll

    JessRoll New Egg

    Jul 1, 2012

    I am fairly new to chickens. We have 2 Americaunas and 1 Golden campine that are about 1 year old that we got about 4 months ago. They are a lot more problematic than I thought they would be.. We have had problems with noise, roaming too far and destructive scratching.

    We have 1/2 acre in Marin County California that I would like to allow them to free-range on, but it is on an unstable hillside and they were really ripping it up after a few months (and roaming too far). Since then I have penned them in a 12' x 4' pen except for about 1 hour a day. They are acclimating and don't seem to mind being penned (at first they were REALLY loud). I would still prefer to let them free-range more since that is what they really love.

    Anyhow, we are going to take some measure to get the hillside secured with plantings and netting this winter, but are considering finding these current chickens a good home and then getting new chickens that are reputed to scratch less in a few months.

    The tough part about this decision is that I really like these chickens and they are working out nicely now. I feel like it might be a mistake to go for other chickens if it doesn't really make that much difference in the amount of scratching and destructiveness.

    The breeds I am considering are pekin or chochin bantam and brahmas.

    Can you guys help? I just can't seem to decide what to do!

  2. hdowden

    hdowden Overrun With Chickens

    Aug 14, 2011
    all 50 (ok i own like 18 of these 50) of our chickens scratch its natural for them to do its how they kick up dirt for bath's, it keeps their nails sharp to defend against predators, and its how they find bugs. my biggest scratchers are my cochins and braham (and i only keep bantams) . ive never heard of a breed that didnt scratch as much i would like to know what others have noticed in their breeds as well on this subject
  3. karlamaria

    karlamaria Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 30, 2011
    Western montana
    keep the girls, all chickens scratch LOL, thats what they do.if your looking for perfect chickens Im thinking your in the wrong field. there looking for bugs, worms etc. they will destroy grass lol. thats what a pen is for. I free range mine, in my back yard, but I also water, and care for my lawn and watch that the holes are covered so they do not go back to that spot and dig deeper. I fill in with seed and put a small screen over the hole. chickens are fun but can be work to. keep your girls, you will not find any bird that does not scratch.
  4. Kittyf

    Kittyf Chillin' With My Peeps

    All chickens scratch and are destructive to plantings - it's what they do! And it's part of their charm.

    I would either keep them in your generous pen - or if you need to, build a larger one. If you have level pasture, you might consider a moveable "chicken tractor" for them.

    You won't find a healthy bird that doesn't scratch up everything they can reach! We keep ours in 2 nice coops with access to a 6 x 15 foot run shaded by a pluot tree and with gravel, decomposed granite, dirt and sand as a floor in the run. It's easy to rake out and keep clean. We have a sunken plastic pan filled with dirt & sand and sprinkled with lice powder for them to take dust baths in. We have a hanging feeder and a 3 gallon waterer in there which we attend to daily. If it is too hot and bright, we set up and umbrella for additional shade and a mister to keep them cool. We also proved a treat pan out there daily and a pan of ice water with lettuce in it to encourage hydration during this heat.

    I also constucted - out of a Lawn Buddy scooter - a rolling "chicken buffet" that I plant with some of their favorite plants and roll into the run. When they destroy it (takes them about 10 minutes!) I roll it out to my garden, replant it and roll it back in (about every 2 weeks). They love it!

    They also love "salad on a stick" a head lettuce or cabbage on a dowel stuck through the corner of their fence about 18" off the ground - the jump and pick and it takes them (6 hens) about 2 days to destroy it. They love the food and entertainment. And so do we!

    Last edited: Jul 1, 2012
  5. tamglas

    tamglas Out Of The Brooder

    Jul 24, 2011
    We have had chickens for over a year now that we keep in a fenced yard that is about 1,200 sq. feet. It can be a struggle for me because I love to garden and I want our chickens to free range with out eating/destroying our plants and yard. I have found that putting large rocks around plants helps and putting flagstone on paths. I've also created areas of the yard that are very chicken friendly. There are places that have wheat berry grass and clover growing. These areas also have lots of dirt and areas to scratch. This seems to help keep them distracted from the areas that are more delicate. I still have to keep an eye on them when they are free ranging now that I'm getting vegetables and fruit in my garden. I do have covers for my planter boxes but sometimes to forget to close them. That said, when I get tired I have a fenced in area to keep our seven girls. Of course, we get loud protests when they are in there.

    I recommend a book I just got through Amazon called Free Range Chicken Gardens: How to Create a Beautiful, Chicken-friendly Yard. It gives a list of chicken resistant plants, which has been helpful to me, even though my chickens will sometimes find these plants tasty. So far, I have been planting lots of lavender.

    Good luck and I hope this helps :)
  6. gryeyes

    gryeyes Covered in Pet Hair & Feathers

    Oh my goodness. Chickens which don't scratch in the soil? Not gonna happen, not with any breed. Legless chickens, maybe..... which you would have to pick up and move around your yard for them.... [​IMG]

    Many folks who get "into" keeping chickens don't realize their destructiveness. They don't mean to do it, they just want to get ALL the bugs, worms, grubs and new plant shoots they can find. One of the most adorable sights in my flock is the mama hen who shows her chicks where to scratch. (They already have the instinct to scratch - they just need directions to the best hunting grounds.)

    Unless you keep them penned most of the time and only allow short periods of time for ranging freely, they will decimate your landscape.

    I will never need weed-whacking services for my property and you would be hard-pressed to find a spider, earwig, or potato bug on my land. If I do happen to find one, I call the closest chicken over to take care of such things. I do have to fill in the fox-holes they dig in the yard if it's somewhere humans need to walk.

    However, I am planning on building some "grow frames" to combat erosion. These are just rectangles made from two-by-fours laid flat on the ground and covered with chicken wire, placed here and there. One can either plant grasses or just let the natural growth reseed itself. The chickens can't get to the seedlings until they grow up through the chicken wire, and by then they are rooted enough to hold the soil. Anything above the chicken wire is good eats for the chickens.
  7. Kittyf

    Kittyf Chillin' With My Peeps

    I have this book, too - it's lovely! The pics are wonderful and lots of good advice!
  8. Alaskan

    Alaskan The Frosted Flake

    I don't know.

    I think that some breeds are more destructive than others.

    Over in one of the Spitzhauben threads someone posted that there is grass in the Spitzhauben run, but not in any of the other breed runs. Supposedly the Spitzhauben peck more than scratch.

    And even though most breeds do scratch, I think that there are some that are more prone to deep hole digging than others.
  9. Alaskan

    Alaskan The Frosted Flake

  10. A Chicken Owner

    A Chicken Owner Chillin' With My Peeps

    Brahmas are a good breed, very docile. It all depends what your looking for. If you want a docile breed that is a good layer, I would recommend either Australorps, Sussexs or Orpingtons. They have great personalities.

    If you want an ornamental fowl, I recommend Sebrights or Silkies (which go broody very often).

    There are many other great breeds but these are the breeds I know most about.
    Last edited: Jun 24, 2013

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