Page 1 of 1

free range gardening

Posted: Sun Jan 16, 2011 10:46 pm
by Islaskye
Ok, so I was soooo nieve to believe that I could have a lawn AND 5 ex bats free ranging in a beautiful country garden with flowers and rose bushes!
I soon found out which plants were chicken proof at the top end of the garden and have adjusted my planting accordingly.
But, :roll: I think I will have to admit defeat with the lawn, theyve pritty much scratched it into oblivion!!!! :lol:

What has any one else done to solve this? are there any grass alternatives that I could cover the ground with that are chicken proof? :dontknow:

any suggestions are welcome!!!!

Re: free range gardening

Posted: Sun Jan 16, 2011 10:53 pm
by battybird
Ducks!! Eat the pests and dont scratch up the grass..oh, and lay eggs even in bad weather :lol: Or build an ark type run that you move around on the grass to limit the damage..or give up a section of garden for a permanent run. There are some plants like feverfew and comfrey which our chucks would not eat but I am not sure that these would be as pretty as grass! Good luck :hugish:

Re: free range gardening

Posted: Mon Jan 17, 2011 6:59 am
by oldjerry
As ever,I'm banging on about ARKS! More control for you,more secure for them ,move every day or two.Why do it any other way?

Re: free range gardening

Posted: Mon Jan 17, 2011 9:47 am
by bonniethomas06
I feel for you...I too relished the idyllic notion of hens frolicking amongst the foxgloves and pinks in my cottage garden.

But then let them loose and 3 hens had totally trashed it within a week. Not to mention pulling up the baby spinach in my veg patch when they flew over the fence.

So I am afraid now I have made a 6ft high enclosure at the back of our patch which is about 15m x8m (there are 10 hens and 1 cockerel). They seem fine, although they have scratched the grass up and we are left with mud, so we toss plenty of greens over the fence. Better for them safer from the foxes) and better for our cottage garden!

Re: free range gardening

Posted: Mon Jan 17, 2011 10:49 am
by Big Al
I have two birds at the moment and think one of them is a cockril but they are free range and have also seen fit to turn pots over, eat the plants and everything else. However the worst culprit for scratching my lawn is the red setter I have but he's to special to be angry for too long. I will also be making a permenant enclosure soon with the fantastic help and guidance of Mrs BA because we get one of the neighbours simese cats in the garden and short of "dealing with it" the chickens need to be fenced in to save them from the cat.

The dog does his job but if I'm out then the chickens are, at present on their own.

In answer to your question, you need to fence them in by one of the methods listed. Don't forget that your chickens can still be called free range provided that they are no more than 6 large breed hens per sq m. ( per sq m for organic).

Re: free range gardening

Posted: Mon Jan 17, 2011 12:48 pm
by Millymollymandy
I only let my chickens out of their run once in a blue moon - yes it's lovely to see them roaming around happily but every time I have to go around all my flower beds putting all the soil back which has ended up all over the grass. Not to mention all the plants that have been scratched up and trashed. :( If I could just keep them in the wild bits that would be fine but it's far too big an area to put a temporary fence across for when I let them free range! The veg patch is safe as that's always been fenced off!

Re: free range gardening

Posted: Tue Jan 18, 2011 9:42 am
by bonniethomas06
Big Al wrote: I will also be making a permenant enclosure soon with the fantastic help and guidance of Mrs BA because we get one of the neighbours simese cats in the garden and short of "dealing with it" the chickens need to be fenced in to save them from the cat.

The dog does his job but if I'm out then the chickens are, at present on their own.


BA, are you sure the cat is a threat to the chooks? Only I had a savage cat once, called Bruno, who AND I KID YOU NOT used to bring in rabbits BIGGER THAN HE WAS.

I was terrified for my chooks, and built them a maximum security run area. But one day, god knows how, he got in. I think I left the door open when I collected the eggs. There were only three of them, ex batts, but poor Bruno didn't know what hit him. He had obviously tried to catch the skinny one, but she flapped her wings and made such a fuss - the others rounded him into a corner and pecked him and he was desperate to get out. Poor Bruno (once I had rescued him) had a pig peck mark on his bald eyebrow patch - and never went near the hens again.

Since then I haven't worried about cats, and my hens have been fine.

Apologies if you have already tried this, just my experience.

Re: free range gardening

Posted: Tue Aug 23, 2011 8:15 am
by Islaskye
same here, I was worried about my dogs ( 2 schnauzers aka little ratters who chace anything moving!!) getting along with the ex batts, I neednt have worried, the youngest tried the whole "ooohh, chace me, chace me!!!" routine and the whole flock obliged in one huge swoop!!!!
they were very weary of going into the run after that!!!

Now though they are the best of freinds, theyre really protective of them and often go into the run to say hello, chill out and sunbathe!!!!! :grouphug:

Re: free range gardening

Posted: Tue Aug 23, 2011 5:18 pm
by Rosendula
I've had the same problem with mine. It's not so much that I want it to look pretty and green, more that I want them to have a bit of grass to eat and there was none left. I've managed to get them a bit, but it's not ideal. I had a frame - a bit like a door skeleton if that makes sense - and it was covered with wire mesh, so I laid that on the ground and sowed some grass seed under it. It works a treat in that the grass grows up through the mesh and the chickens can't eat it right down to the floor (so it does regrow). The only problem I have is that they poo on it, and trying to get poo out of the mesh is nearly impossible, and as soon as I lift the frame to clean the poo from under it the chickens dive in to eat the grass stubble! :roll:

Big Al wrote:Don't forget that your chickens can still be called free range provided that they are no more than 6 large breed hens per sq m. ( per sq m for organic).

BA, can you explain this to a dimwit please? 6 large hens per square metre??? Surely not :pale: . The old mind's a bit foggy today :scratch:

Re: free range gardening

Posted: Tue Aug 23, 2011 8:32 pm
by Thomzo
Me too, succumbed to the fenced-in run. I fill it with grass cuttings, hedge trimmings and pulled weeds to give them plenty of greens.

I used to let my bantams free range. They didn't do any damage to the garden (but they did get eaten by foxes :oops: ).

If you want pretty - get bantams.

If you want big girls - get a run.

Zoe

Re: free range gardening

Posted: Wed Aug 24, 2011 6:42 am
by Millymollymandy
Rosendula wrote:
Big Al wrote:Don't forget that your chickens can still be called free range provided that they are no more than 6 large breed hens per sq m. ( per sq m for organic).

BA, can you explain this to a dimwit please? 6 large hens per square metre??? Surely not :pale: . The old mind's a bit foggy today :scratch:

That's for the eggs/meat you buy - it can legally be called free range as this is the amount of birds per space commercial farms can get away with plus some access to outdoors of course - too crammed in for my own liking.

Re: free range gardening

Posted: Wed Aug 24, 2011 8:30 am
by Rosendula
Blimey, I didn't realize it was that bad :(. I always felt a bit uncomfortable that my three are enclosed in a run but compared to that they're practically wild!

Re: free range gardening

Posted: Thu Aug 25, 2011 1:43 pm
by Crickleymal
We have 4 chooks an a large run (5m by 2m) which is fenced in top sides AND bottom. The wire at the bottom is buried under 4 inches of soil and we put in fresh compost/bark chippings so they don't build up too much muck in there. They do get let out virtually every day but only when there's someone around as we have foxes in the neighbourhood. At the moment we daren't plant anything in the flower beds as they will trash it and as they can get through incredibly small gaps we'll have to invest in a fair bit of netting to keep them off. I don't think the neighbourhood cats stand much of a chance though, our chooks see them off in fairly short order. We have even seen them eyeing up a fox speculatively, although a bull mastiff scared them silly.

Re: free range gardening

Posted: Mon Mar 18, 2013 4:54 pm
by beccaknits
This is very late as a reply but in case anyone else is reading - get bantams! I've kept them before and they're about half the size of chickens. Get breeds with feathered legs and you should keep your lawn in good condition - mine only scratched their patch into oblivion after a week of rain when it was looking dodgy anyway. The eggs are smaller too but a lot of people like buying them for the novelty of tiny eggs - you need to use 2 bantam eggs to 1 chicken egg :)

Re: free range gardening

Posted: Wed May 15, 2013 12:45 am
by Scotness
Guinea fowl are popular here in Australia - apparently they don't scratch the garden but will pick out bugs to eat off the plants - and they chase snakes away -- I guess they're good pet/guard birds, I don't know what their laying is like though.

Scot