What should I use to weed and feed my lawn w/o hurting chickens?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Merchris, Feb 2, 2008.

  1. Merchris

    Merchris Out Of The Brooder

    59
    0
    39
    Feb 1, 2008
    Hi all,

    I really need to weed my lawn as I have these weeds that actually sting you if you touch them. They're starting to take over my horse pasture and I want to get rid of them. Of course the problem lies in using something that won't hurt my babies either, horses or chickens. Any suggestions on weeding and fertilizing with animals?

    Thanks!
     
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2008
  2. Rosalind

    Rosalind Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 25, 2007
  3. mrspie

    mrspie New Egg

    6
    0
    6
    Jan 28, 2008
    Alameda, CA
    To feed, you can just spread dry sifted compost over the lawn and water it in. If you have your chickens running around on the lawn they will help with the feeding, as well. I wouldn't use a synthetic fertilizer where birds are going to be scratching in the soil or eating the leaves.

    To weed, I use a forked stick weeder (they seem to have all sorts of names) that doesn't require handling the weed directly, so it would work for stinging nettles. If you have a nice, thick lawn that hasn't been thinned out by too much synthetic fertilizer, it should crowd out the weeds for the most part, so they won't get as bad as in an unmanaged meadow. If your lawn isn't very thick, overseed it and keep the chickens off for a while to let the seeds grow in.

    There are lots of web sites with information on organic lawns which should help you out.

    I sometimes use Roundup in places where I can keep it well away from any animals for at least a week while it decomposes, but that's not a weed killer to be used in the middle of a lawn unless you're willing to kill half the lawn as well. Besides, killing the weed in place doesn't make it not sting you any more.
     
  4. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    12,521
    103
    341
    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    where do you live and can we identify the weed? It is a lot easier to say what's a good way of getting rid of it if we know what it *is*.

    Google stinging nettles and see if it looks like the pix (I am slightly dubious that's it, since IME horses eat nettles, at least somewhat). If not, is it a thistle? (again, google for pix). Otherwise, could we see a pic or at least hear a description, it would really help.

    Most weeds can be got rid of fairly efficiently without resorting to poisonous chemicals. Do not believe all the manufacturers' blurbs about 'harmless', 'residues disappear in 12 hours', etc... they tend to come from manufacturer-sponsored tests in *ideal* (rather than typical real) conditions. Roundup, for instance, has been fund to be much more persistant in many REAL WORLD situations than they'd like you to believe.

    There are often safer ways.

    So, what weed have you actually got?


    Pat
     
  5. Merchris

    Merchris Out Of The Brooder

    59
    0
    39
    Feb 1, 2008
    Yep...appears to be stinging nettles. I didn't realize there were so many types. I only thought that stinging nettles were on the beachside....just learned something new!! I also didn't realize you could eat them either. I read that you can dry them and feed them to chickens and horses. I guess the animals don't eat them until they're dried. I have so many though. They're taking over the pastures. I went on an egg hunt earlier this afternoon because I have a few chickens that don't seem to realize that you do your work 'in the office' as we call it!! and I'm currently feeling the sting of those nettles right now!!!

    I used to just weed and feed the pastures and then close them off for a period of time for the horses, but now that we have the chickens, I'm not taking any chances with my girls(and two boys).
     
  6. DuckLady

    DuckLady Administrator~~~ BYC Store Support Staff Member

    32,468
    1,229
    521
    Jan 11, 2007
    Washington State
    I use geese to weed and feed. If there are stickery weeds, I pull them up by hand.

    Well, a hand with a leather glove on. [​IMG]
     
  7. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    12,521
    103
    341
    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    Just keep mowing them. Seriously. Every time they get like 4-6" high, mow again, as low as you can drop the blades. Every month or two during the growing season. *Absolutely* never allow them to flower! It may take a year or two, but eventually they will poop out. In the meantime the horses and chickens will get snacks [​IMG]

    For smaller patches, you can just go attack 'em with a hoe and slice 'em off at ground level (getting the roots out would be even better but is a LOT more work, and not really necessary as long as you hoe every time you see 'em sprouting up.

    BTW, horses I've known do not necessarily wait til the nettles are dried to eat 'em - dunno if they *like* the feeling or what but sometimes they will eat 'em fresh. Makes my tongue and lips hurt just thinking about it but then I am not a horse [​IMG]

    Good luck,

    Pat, whose pasture weed problems run more to the thistle end of the spectrum at the moment [​IMG]
     
  8. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    12,521
    103
    341
    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    p.s. I *think* stinging nettles are one of the plants that thrives in a high-nitrogen environment -- so it is possible that part of your problem may be overdoing it with fertilizers... just a thought...

    Pat
     
  9. 1acrefarm

    1acrefarm Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 3, 2007
    Georgia
    Close mowing will eventually kill stinging nettle. Obviously you have to let some of your pasture grow for horses. Maybe work on a section at a time doing several close mowings.
     
  10. kayri

    kayri Chillin' With My Peeps

    353
    1
    141
    Jul 6, 2007
    RI
    these people sell a corn based lawn product that they say is very safe. I have a friend who used it on her lawn and liked it, but said it was expensive.

    I've bought other things from them that have worked. Good luck. Nettles can be a problem.


    http://www.gardensalive.com/category.asp?c=10&bhcd2=1202013038
     
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2008

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by