Backyard chicken farming has become a popular activity in recent years as people flock to the trend of fresh, organic eggs. But what many new chicken farmers don’t realize is that not all chicken-rearing practices are created equal.
In fact, one of the most common debates among backyard chicken enthusiasts is whether or not chickens need grass in their run area. So, what’s the verdict? Do chickens need grass in their run, or can they get by without it?
The Pros and Cons of Grass in a Chicken Run
On the one hand, some people argue that grass is an essential part of a chicken’s diet and that providing a grassy area for chickens to peck and scratch is the best way to ensure they’re getting all the nutrients they need. After all, chickens are technically omnivores, so they need a varied diet that includes both plants and insects.
On the other hand, others argue that chickens don’t actually need grass in their diet—after all, if you buy high-quality chicken feed, it will already contain all the nutrients your chickens need. Plus, if you do provide a grassy area for your chickens, they will quickly destroy it through constant scratching, leaving behind bare soil or dirt. So why bother?
Can Chickens Live Without Grass?
When you hear the word “chicken,” chances are the first thing that comes to mind is a chicken running around a grassy field. But can chickens really live without grass? The answer might surprise you. Here’s everything you need to know about keeping chickens without a grassy area.
Chickens can definitely live without grass and will happily scratch and dig in any floor covering. Most chickens don’t eat much grass, and you can supplement greens with veggies such as kale, broccoli, lettuce, etc. You will also need to provide some form of grit for your chickens to help them digest their food properly.
Grass does have some benefits for chickens, though. It helps keep their legs strong and provides them with essential vitamins and minerals. If you do have a small patch of grass, letting your chickens out for some supervised free-range time is a good idea. Just be sure to keep an eye on them as they may try to escape!
How to Keep Chicken Runs on Grass
If you really want to keep a smaller chicken run and coop on grass, then the best way to do this is to have a run which you can easily move onto a new patch of grass periodically. You can speed up the recovery process by sprinkling some grass seed onto any bald patches and by feeding the lawn. A good seed to use is hardwearing grass seed, which contains at least 50% ryegrass.
The Best Way to Keep Chickens on Grass
The best way to keep your chickens on grass is to rotate them. This means that you have more than one chicken run so that the chickens can be moved around. This will give the grass time to recover in between uses.
You can also help the recovery process by adding some fertilizer to the bald spots. A good way to do this is to get a soil test done so you know exactly what nutrients your lawn is lacking. You can buy fertilizer at most hardware stores or online.
Another thing you can do is overseed your lawn with hardy grass seeds. A mix of 50% ryegrass and 50% fescue is a good choice for areas that get a lot of foot traffic. You can find these seeds at most garden centers or online.
Alternative Bases for Chicken Runs
One of the most important things to consider when creating a chicken run is the base. The base is important because it provides a dry, clean area for the chickens to walk and exercise. A common material used for chicken run bases is gravel. Gravel is a great choice because it is inexpensive and easy to find. However, gravel can be harmful to chickens if they eat it. In addition, gravel can get wet and muddy, which can lead to foot problems for chickens.
An alternative material that you may want to consider for your chicken run base is wood chips or shavings. Wood chips are excellent at absorbing moisture, which will keep your chicken’s feet dry and clean. Wood chips are also safe for chickens to eat, so you don’t have to worry about them eating gravel. In addition, wood chips are relatively inexpensive and easy to find.
Another alternative material that you may want to consider is straw. Straw is an excellent material for chicken runs because it is absorbent, cheap, and easy to find. However, straw can be a bit messy, so you may want to consider using straw in combination with another material such as wood chips or shavings.
How Does Chicken Poo Affect Grass?
Anyone who’s ever had backyard chickens knows that they produce A LOT of manure. But have you ever wondered just how all that chicken poop affects the grass? Well, wonder no more! Here’s everything you need to know about using chicken manure as fertilizer for your grass.
The Pros and Cons of Using Chicken Manure as Fertilizer
Chicken manure is one of the richest sources of nitrogen available, which is why farmers often use it to fertilize the grass. Nitrogen is essential for healthy plant growth, so chicken manure can really give your grass a boost. The downside is that chicken manure is also very high in salt, which can damage delicate plants if it’s used directly.
How to Use Chicken Manure as Fertilizer
If you want to use chicken manure as fertilizer, it’s important to do it correctly. You’ll need to compost the manure first, which will help to break down the salt content and make it less likely to burn your plants. Once the manure has been composted, you can mix it into the soil around your plants or use it as mulch. Just be sure not to put it directly on the leaves of your plants, as this can still cause damage.
Ultimately, the decision of whether or not to include grass in your chicken run comes down to a matter of personal preference. If you want your chickens to have access to fresh grass (and are willing to deal with the mess it can make), then by all means, go for it! However, if you’d prefer to avoid the hassle (and expense) of maintaining a grassy area, know that your chickens will likely be just as happy—and healthy—without it.