When you visit us here in Brahmaland, most of you are very surprised by the state of our chicken runs, most of the time they are nice and green with lots of grass instead of all muddy like we’re used to seeing. But it can very easily come to that…
Here’s our secret to keeping our chicken runs pleasant and suitable !!
What is a chicken run ?
It’s an outdoor space made for a distinct group of chickens, the size depending on a number of things :
- the room available
- the number and size of the group : of course you will need more space if you have a big family or large sized chickens like brahmas than if you keep 2 pekin bantams !
- access to other parts of the garden : if the chickens stay in the chicken run only than it has to be big enough otherwise it we rapidly be covered in mud or left bare.
Why take care of the ground ?
Having a nice chicken run is always more satisfying to the eye and very pleasant for the chickens. I spend a lot of time there and I really prefer it to be looked after properly as well as being useful for the animals.
A well kept chicken run will offer natural resources for the chickens and help maintain good sanitary conditions. If the chickens are happy in their environment, they will be more productive and thrive more easily in every aspect (eggs, growth, breeding, etc…)
Of course, all of this takes time and investments but it’s the only way to have results. But it’s not the end of the world to take care of the pens, and you get to spend time with your chickens that love gardening !!
What do you have to keep an eye on to maintain nice chicken runs ?
You have to make sure you follow a couple of basic rules :
- Make sure you keep the plants that chickens like to graze. Grass, clover and alfalfa (lucerne)
- You need to plant or protect the medium height plants that provide shade in the summer.
- Have other varieties of plants like herbs and fruit trees, raspberries …
- Prevent weeds that chickens leave aside from taking up the space
- Never let the ground become filthy and full of left overs and other garbage.
Taking action !
Raking the chicken run
When nature needs help, when it doesn’t rain enough, or when the group of animals becomes too large, it’s important to start raking !
- Remove the dried-up droppings that won’t benefit the soil if they keep piling up
- Pick up the leaves that will prevent the grass from growing during the fall
- Rake the rotten fruits, acorns, feathers or any other things that have no use
A nice clean run is so much more comfortable for everybody and regular maintenance is nearly effortless.
Weeding the ground
Preventing weeds to gain space is essential, non-wanted plants may lead to a bare soil. We weren’t careful enough last year and ended up with some pretty damaged chicken runs.
Weeding is always a special moment to share with the chickens because they love scratching the earth looking for worms and other insects ! Some of them are great gardeners and can’t wait to discover the hole left by the roots when I take the plant out !
=> Look at this video 🙂
If the weeds have taken up too much space, a suitable solution is to sow some grass on some part of the chicken run. If it’s the right time of the year it can be green again very quickly ! Of course you will need to keep the chickens out !
Turning over the earth
I often turn over some dirt in order for the chickens to have thing to look for. They enjoy it very much and it keeps them from being bored !
Like weeding, these are good moments to share with them, they love looking for a little snack !!
Just like we water flowers or strawberries, you need to water the chicken runs when entering a dry period.
No surprises there, if you do not water your lawn or other plantations during a drought, everything will dry up and die.
Lawn mowing and pruning
Yes, we mow the lawn in our chicken runs ! 🙂
We have noticed that some weeds don’t like mowing and are more easily removed if cut regularly.
Mowing is essential for ‘lawns’ (except during very hot episodes), it helps stimulate the growth and ground expansion.
Pruning the fruit trees will increase production the following year (if done properly !). Pruning the willows will make them grow thicker, that way, chickens will benefit from their shade !
For those of you who like flowers like I do, you need to keep them relatively high to protect them from your lovely chickens ! Not many flowers co-exist easily with your feathered friends ! We have attached some flower pots to our fence posts, it looks absolutely lovely ! 🙂