Will my chickens destroy my grass if they are in a portable run?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by thefeatherlady, Jul 26, 2014.

  1. thefeatherlady

    thefeatherlady In the Brooder

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    I'm new at chicken raising and I'm trying to figure out if my lawn will get ruined (I live in the city) if I keep my free range chicks in a portable run and move it around. How often should I move the run? I'm not as concerned with the poop as I am about having my grass ruined. I also need to know if I build a 3' x 4' run for my 2 chicks, will this be large enough for them and how will I get them in and out easily? I'm older and can't lift much weight which is why the run would be smaller. I would be very grateful for any ideas or suggestions.
     
  2. dheltzel

    dheltzel Crowing

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    Like most things, he answer is "it depends". The more often you move the coop, the better for the grass, even just 2 chickens can be hard on a small patch of grass, so either more space or more frequent moving solves that. If done right, your grass should look better (bug control and free fertilizer).

    Some things you need to consider besides just the total space available:
    - roosting area that is safe from drafts and predators
    - where will the nest boxes go (anything directly on the ground kills grass faster than the chickens can)
    - feeder in a rain-protected area
    - if you hang the feeder and waterer, that is better for not killing the grass, but makes the structure heavier for moving
    - make sure you can access the whole area without crawling inside (removable top?)
    - what happens if a strong wind comes along, will it become a kite and blow across the street (happened to me, that's why I'm mentioning it)
     
  3. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Crossing the Road

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    You talk about a 3 x 4' run? What about the coop? Will the nest box be in the coop, or attached to the side of the coop? The absolute minimum size of their run: access to the grass should be 20 square feet, and their coop should have at least 8 - 12 square feet of available floor space. In a small coop, the roost will need to be close to the floor because, they won't be able to spread their wings to fly to the roost. They'll have to jump up, without bothering their roost mate. That's why more space is better, especially when you get down to the smaller size coops and flocks. Imagine yourself trying to jump up on a stool without your elbows or arms, or any other body part flailing outside of the foot print of that stool! difficult to do, at best. In order to keep the grass from being destroyed, you'll probably need to move their coop/run on a daily basis, with at least a 2 week rest before the coop ends back in the first spot again.
     
  4. thefeatherlady

    thefeatherlady In the Brooder

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    Great questions. In addition to the run they will have a small coop with a roost and nesting boxes. I plan to have the run about 2 feet high. There will be water in the run and I plan to cover half the top with a tarp for shade. I'm concerned about the small size but I can't lift much weight. I'm going to build the run out of pvc and chicken wire hoping this will make it light enough. Do you really think the wind really could blow it away? Will I need to make it bigger?
     
  5. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Crossing the Road

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    Yes and yes. Have you looked at the many coop designs on BYC? Or you might do a thread search for chicken tractors. An other option might be to make the coop and run as separate units that can be hooked together. If you have fairly level ground, a set of tires can make your tractor much easier to move. I'd recommend that you look at a 2 level design where they could have run space directly under the coop. A 3 x 6 or 3 x 8, made with 2 x 2's on wheels would not take too much energy to move, and it would provide plenty of room for your 2 girls. In order to make it predator proof, you'd need to have a skirt to go around it, and all the wire would need to be 1/2" hardware cloth. Chicken wire is not at all predator proof.
     
  6. thefeatherlady

    thefeatherlady In the Brooder

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    Apr 28, 2014
    I really like the idea of wheels and I'll check into that. This portable run will be separate from the 2 story coop and the coop will have a permanent run attached which will be much larger. I have my coop but can't put it together until mid august. I'm just looking at making a smaller portable run they can use until everything is built. They just love being outside and I thought if the run was smaller and more temporary I could move it by myself until the coop and permanent run are built. Right now i have them in a small dog cratw since they are just coming up on 5 weeks old. I love the feedback. Please tell me what you think of my idea?
     
  7. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Crossing the Road

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    If you are a scavenger, you can find an old lawnmower and scalp the wheels off of it. You might even be able to use the push handle. What is your long term plan? How many chickens (at the most) and how big a coop can you have and how big a run can you have? IMO, build as big as possible, and you won't regret it later.
     
  8. thefeatherlady

    thefeatherlady In the Brooder

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    My coop is pretty small. 64" long 30" wide and 41" high. There are 2 nesting boxes and 2 roosts on the upper level. The permanent run will be 10' one way and about 8' the other way and about 41" tall and 3' Wide. It will be an L shaped run. I only plan to keep 2 chickens. I have a large city yard but I want to keep them contained as much as possible when they are free ranging. Wondering now if I should make the portable run bigger. Like 4' x 5'. I don't know if I could lift or move anything larger. I'm older and live alone so don't have additional help. I really don't have much in the way of preditors. Just the neighbors cat but my dog is very protective of me and the chicks. I will definately see about some wheels. Just have to figure out how to attach them :) Thank you
     
  9. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Crossing the Road

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    I wish you the best.
     
  10. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted

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    Just for ideas, I have a small portable tractor I use to keep broody hens and new chicks in. It's pretty small, something like 3x5. With a bantam hen and 4 chicks, I had to move it every day once the chicks were say 2 weeks old. One full size hen and two 1 week old chicks are lasting about 3 days in the same place. You'll just have to see how things go, but two birds should be okay in the same place for a day or so. I'd just plan on moving it every day. They'll get better forage, and spread the poop better that way. If you want to start a garden bed in a specific area, just leave the pen there until they've decimated the plant life, add some straw and you'll be good to go [​IMG]
     

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