Tiny Suburban Backyard Rotational Grazing System

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by firefowl, Nov 6, 2015.

  1. firefowl

    firefowl Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 31, 2013
    Temperate Australia
    I'd just like to share my setup and get some feedback as to what can improved or done differently.

    Basically my system consists of the lawn area in my backyard, which is quite small as you can see from the photos. Therefore it's split into only 2 halves so one half can regenerate while the other half is grazed. There's only 2 chickens a bantam Australorp and a French Maran. I don't graze for any specific amount of time I just change pastures when grass is at a low level and at a higher level in the other pasture. Or when it looks like one pasture needs time to recover. As you can see a good portion of the pasture is dug up and bare, but there always seems to be enough grass to sustain them. I see them grazing often, most of the grass is couch grass I believe, there's not much clovers or other grasses around. But there is some medic/clover, barley grass, tall wheat grass and rye grass around, usually on the edges of the fence.

    The coop is just a cheap kit chicken tractor I bought, it consists of a open section and the coop which has a roost and also doubles as a nesting box. I always leave the door open to the tractor and the coop even at night, predators aren't a problem here. They usually prefer to roost on top of the tractor, quite often I force them into the coop by putting them in the chicken tractor and closing the door. If I forget to open it before I fall asleep then there's a good chance of being woken up by squawking the next morning.

    The water-er is a 20L container attached to a pipe with two cups that fill up automatically with a simple float mechanism. I keep it on a bit of cut pallet to keep it off the ground to prevent dirt, etc. Also it stops them from scratching the bit of ground and grass can grow underneath still. I keep it at the back as that is the most shaded area, also it's the most dug up area so it helps with that too. I plan on swapping to a white container instead of black so the water won't be really warm on hot days.

    Feed is dispensed automatically into a specially designed PVC pipe which attached to a post in the shade and somewhat out of the rain. Underneath is the bottom tray of one of the store bought plastic automatic feeders, it's secured into the ground with the metal rod from the feeder. The chickens tend to peck through the feed so a lot can accumulate on the dish each day. I usually mix this with water or with some spent brewing grains and feed it into them in a bowl. I don't put it back in the feeder because it may be slightly soiled. Currently the feed is an organic soy free mash which is fed dry, but since they love flicking it every I'm going to change to the pellet equivalent to cut down on wastage. 1 - 1.5 Handfuls of spent brewing grains are often fed to them in a bowl in the morning and late afternoon or evening. They really love the brewing grains, much more than the mash they always have access to.

    These birds are normally pretty good but sometimes they seem to squawk loudly for no reason, especially the Australorp. The Australorp is a fairly consistent and regular layer, she's been through one molting cycle so still young. The Maran doesn't lay as often but still not bad, the eggs tend to vary quite a lot in colour and already seem to be losing their brown pigment. It's probably only been laying for about 6 months. Sometimes the Australorp eggs can be quite fragile, despite having access to shell grit and also have their own egg shells fed back to them. The Australorp eggs are usually the same size or bigger then the Maran eggs despite being a bantam.

    In the last photo there is a D'Anver I purchased from a show and I'd hoped that it would become part of the flock. But because of it's size it gets picked on so much that it has to be separated. It also tends to fly on the fence and roof and therefore has to be kept locked up so it doesn't fly into someone else's yard. If it's left out to free range it will be chased by both birds who pin it down and then unleash their fury onto it. This usually makes it very scared and skittish so it will tend to want to fly away when it's being chased. Once it flew over the pasture fence and spent the whole day digging up my compost heap. Which gave it a good feed of bugs but was time consuming to rake and shovel back into a pile.

    I'm actually going to be moving to a property which a much larger backyard soon but would still value feedback on my current system. Any feedback on what can be done about the D'Anver would be particularly valuable.

    WINTER (July)




    SPRING (November)


    Last edited: Nov 6, 2015
  2. Pork Pie Ken

    Pork Pie Ken Flockless Premium Member

    Jan 30, 2015
    Africa - near the equator
    There are many threads on integrating new flock members - id suggest you search those and see what you think may work for you. Its possible that the limited space encourages greater aggression from the older chickens - combined with only one feeding station. Ideally, its good to have at least two feeding stations that are not within sight of each other - that way even submissive flock members can access food.

    If you take a look at the threads on integration, you may be able to come up with something that works for your new property, but at the moment, the size of the run is likely to remain a problem when trying to integrate.

    Good luck

  3. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    Here's some notes I've taken on integration that I found to be very helpful.......
    ......take what applies or might help and ignore the rest.
    See if any of them, or the links provided at the bottom, might offer some tips that will assist you in your situation:

    Integration of new chickens into flock.

    Consider medical quarantine:
    BYC Medical Quarantine Article
    Poultry Biosecurity
    BYC 'medical quarantine' search

    It's about territory and resources(space/food/water). Existing birds will almost always attack new ones.
    Understanding chicken behaviors is essential to integrating new birds into your flock.

    Confine new birds within sight but physically segregated from older/existing birds for several weeks, so they can see and get used to each other but not physically interact. Integrating new birds of equal size works best.

    The more space, the better.
    Birds will peck to establish dominance, the pecked bird needs space to get away. As long as there's no blood drawn and/or new bird is not trapped/pinned down, let them work it out. Every time you interfere or remove new birds, they'll have to start the pecking order thing all over again.

    Multiple feed/water stations. Dominance issues are most often carried out over sustenance, more stations lessens the frequency of that issue.

    Places for the new birds to hide out of line of sight and/or up and away from any bully birds.

    In adjacent runs, spread scratch grains along the dividing mesh, best of mesh is just big enough for birds to stick their head thru, so they get used to eating together.

    Another option, if possible, is to put all birds in a new coop and run, this takes the territoriality issues away.

    For smaller chicks I used a large wire dog crate right in the coop for the smallers. I removed the crate door and put up a piece of wire fencing over the opening and bent up one corner just enough for the smallers to fit thru but the biggers could not. Feed and water inside the crate for the smallers. Make sure the smallers know how to get in and out of the crate opening before exposing them to the olders. this worked out great for me, by the time the crate was too small for the them to roost in there(about 3 weeks), they had pretty much integrated themselves to the olders. If you have too many smallers to fit in a crate you can partition off part of the coop with a wire wall and make the same openings for smallers escape.

    Read up on integration..... BYC advanced search>titles only>integration
    This is good place to start reading:


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