Farming forum: Do chickens always kill the grass where you put them?

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springfield MO area (Zone 6a)
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Frillylily
May 3, 2015 8:16 AM CST
I have an area that is about 50x50 and it has about 6-8 dwarf fruit trees I am just trying to get started. I plan on putting 6 foot chainlink around the perimeter. I was going to put an old picnic table in it for the chickens a little protection. I was planning on keeping quite a bit of straw over the ground, the area is slightly sloped-not a lot. But it is enough that it may wash out a little over time if all the grass were gone like I planned. But now I am wondering if the chickens would even kill out the grass in an area that large? I plan on getting about 12-15 chickens and a rooster. I covet any thoughts or advice about my ideas. Obviously I don't want to invest of all this work time and money if it isn't going to work. I don't know hardly anything about chickens, I have never had them.
springfield MO area (Zone 6a)
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Plant Identifier
Frillylily
May 3, 2015 8:28 AM CST
Ok well I was just reading on another site and it said that the chickens themselves will kill the grass, but not only that-their manure will burn up the grass as well. So that would mean that even a few in a large area would probably kill the grass anyway, right? I am thinking that my husband is going to make such a big deal out of this that I don't won't to deal with it. I have wanted chickens for a long time, but I may just have to settle without. I thought he would be glad that a large section of the yard would not need constant mowing and weedeating. I read on the other site that the chickens even clean the grass up around the fence on the other side and this person didn't even have to weedeat anymore!
Name: Porkpal
Richmond, TX
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Keeper of Poultry Farmer Roses Raises cows
Garden Ideas: Level 2 Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier
porkpal
May 3, 2015 9:57 AM CST
I don't know for sure whether your area is big enough, but my chickens free range in a pasture behind the barn and have not killed the grass except immediately in front of their coop. I don't think it is the manure. They just eat it and trample it quicker than it can grow back. I would give it a try, perhaps starting with fewer than 12.
Porkpal
Name: Deb
Pacific Northwest (Zone 8b)
Region: Pacific Northwest Organic Gardener Herbs Dragonflies Dog Lover Keeper of Poultry
Birds Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge) Garden Ideas: Master Level Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Garden Sages Plant Identifier
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Bonehead
May 3, 2015 10:18 AM CST
My chicken yard is about 25x50. I keep 8-10 chickens and they keep this to bare dirt. It took them one summer to knock it down from grass over their heads (that was way cute, they established little tunnels) to dirt. We have since added an auxillary yard that we can close off to let the grass recover. They won't touch either nettles or thistles standing, but will eat them after I cut them down.
I want to live in a world where the chicken can cross the road without its motives being questioned.
Name: Porkpal
Richmond, TX
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Keeper of Poultry Farmer Roses Raises cows
Garden Ideas: Level 2 Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier
porkpal
May 4, 2015 1:27 PM CST
I estimate that I run about 40 or 50 hens per acre. That comes out to 871 - 1089 square feet per hen. In 2011 when we had a severe drought, the grass looked thin and grey, but it was not dead. This year with abundant rainfall, I may have to shred their pasture so that they (or predators) won't vanish into the wilderness. Alternatively I may turn some of the pigs out to help with the clearing; they, however, will dig up the grass eventually. An interesting note: I have a couple of picnic tables out in the middle for refuge from hawks too!
Porkpal
Name: Tom Cagle
SE-OH (Zone 6a)
Old, fat, and gardening in OH
Coppice
Jul 9, 2015 6:39 AM CST
A penned chicken is a dilligent hunter of chickeny provender. If that means the girls have to scratch the same spot of dirt 99 times to make absolutely sure that no bug or seed escapes them, then so be it.

This tends to be tough on lawns. See a chicken tractor.
Name: Tim Hoover
Elysian FIelds, Texas (Zone 8a)
Region: Texas Seller of Garden Stuff Beekeeper Ponds
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TimHoover
Aug 29, 2015 6:31 AM CST
This post reminded me of what happed a few years ago to me. I had about 200 laying hens make a jail-break; it took me about 3 weeks to round them all up. Prior to that, I had a rather nice lawn; at the end of 3 weeks, I had scorched Earth. Mind you, my lawn was at least an acre. Apparently, nice, fresh tasty St. Augustine grass is irresistible to Chickens. They were so thorough in their quest for expensive salad that I no longer have St. Augstine grass. Every last scrap was eaten, stolens and all. It took several years to get my lawn back to an acceptable level. It did give me an opportunity to change species of grass to a less demanding type but what a weird way to have a total lawn removal. That was also the year I had very little to take to the farmers markets....except eggs. Care to guess why? lol....
[Last edited by TimHoover - Aug 29, 2015 6:33 AM (+)]
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Name: Rita
North Shore, Long Island, NY
Zone 6B
Charter ATP Member Seed Starter Tomato Heads I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Vegetable Grower Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge)
Birds Garden Ideas: Master Level Butterflies Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Roses Photo Contest Winner: 2016
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Newyorkrita
Aug 29, 2015 10:08 AM CST
Oh boy. Chickens sure had a great time at your expense!

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