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is grass essential for chicken run?

(17 Posts)
MissFoodie Thu 26-May-11 15:11:14

am debating whether to get 2 chickens for an urban garden (SW London) but do not have grass/lawn, so please can you let me know
a) is grass/lawn essential for the run?
b) if no, can the run be placed over decking or soil?
b) and what about placing the run over tarmac? can I then add some turf? gravel?
Thanks!!!

PrincessScrumpy Thu 26-May-11 21:02:21

My dad has just got chickens and made a large run in the garden. It is over the old compost area which he has moved so there's mud but no grass. He told friends that he had some grass seed in the shed so had put it down so the chickens would have some grass - his friends all laughed and told him not to bother as it wouldn't last more than a couple of days, so I don't think grass is essential. I would have thought soil is okay, but I'll let an expert come along and give proper info. Enjoy your chickens!

Punkatheart Thu 26-May-11 21:44:28

As long as you have cleanable removable flooring such a aubiose, hemcore or easibed - you should be fine. Be careful if you make the base soil that nothing can dig in. Slabs could be used for the purpose.

We have a lawn and some temporary fencing. My girls go out on the grass for half an hour to an hour a day. But we also buy them a roll of turf from time to time and plant it in their soily bit. They love it.

Careful with decking and rats - they can tunnel underneath. Harder less chewable surface is preferable.

MoreBeta Thu 26-May-11 21:50:11

Hard concrete standing is best. Stops rats.

If you have grass in a run the chickens will eat it down to bare earth in a few weeks anyway and then it will be foul mud.

Punkatheart Thu 26-May-11 21:51:52

I forgot to say that my girls' soily bit is outside their run - not in it. MoreBeta is spot on - they will turn it to mud very quickly.

springbokscantjump Thu 26-May-11 21:52:17

One of my friends buys a roll of turf everynow and then - has a moveable run, plonks it over the turf, lets them wreak havoc on it, then buys a new one. She gets the cheap not looking too grand ones that the garden places are selling off cheap.

MissFoodie Thu 26-May-11 23:42:11

thank you all -
so, if I were to go for another option, eg concrete slabs, the aubiose, hemcore or easibed would have to be removed and chucked how often? are we talking weekly for 2 chickens?

and that's it? they dont require anything else on the floor?

if I go for one of the above removable flooring, would they then not need a dust bath or whatever it's called?

a silly question: do they use water like other birds? to wash in? or are they totally anti water?

Punkatheart Fri 27-May-11 08:12:27

Aubiose in particular is miraculous - it soaks up the poo into clumps so it can be removed. You will only have to completely change it every 1-2 months. Hemcore is cheaper but does a similar job. Ditto Easi-bed.

Depending on how big your run is - you can fill a trug with soil for the dust bath.

They don't wash in water but they must ALWAYS have fresh clean water to drink. Hens drink quite a lot, especially in hot weather.

It would be great if you took out a book from the library and researched all the things you need first - then you will feel more confident. Maybe also source your supplies. GRIT is also essential for example - it works as their teeth to grind up food.

MissFoodie Fri 27-May-11 11:34:35

thanks so much - had visions of clearing out the run every week......!

another thing: can they be left overnight? the cat has a timer feeder, so he can be left for 1 night, does the same apply to chickens? eg as long as they have sufficient food.....

I really want an eglu from a hygiene perspective, however, are wooden coops really that much harder to clean/keep clean?

and what's the consensus on gravel in the run or gravel plus Aubiose on top? or is this taking it too far?!

I guess if the run was placed over concrete slabs with aubiose and/or gravel, I would need edging to keep it somewhat contained?

MoreBeta Sat 28-May-11 07:45:51

Yes they can be left overnight. Just make sure they have plenty of water and food in their hopper before you go.

ProfYaffle Sat 28-May-11 07:49:07

We have the set up you describe, run on concrete with aubiose (Do they still make hemcore? our usual shop told us it's not available any more) Ours isn't edged, a bit spills out but not too much. I would have thought aubiose on top of gravel would be difficult to clean, you'd be taking the gravel out with the aubiose.

We have wooden coops and never really had a problem with mites although we do spray with poultry shield every week.

MissFoodie Sat 28-May-11 13:26:29

thanks all!
so concrete with aubiose over it and some ledges would be sufficient? am always worried animals will be bored or feel neglected smile
the cat has more toys than he knows what to do with....!

MissFoodie Sat 28-May-11 13:28:38

one more thing, do they like a bird bath/water spray the way birds do???? or do they not need washing?

Ripeberry Sat 28-May-11 13:32:14

Nah, they just stand in the rain grin

Punkatheart Sat 28-May-11 13:56:45

They will scream if you spray 'em. However, if they have VERY dirty bottoms - it is sometimes necessary to wash their bums and blow dry 'em!

As far as 'toys' - some branches, maybe a cabbage hung up..

MissFoodie Sat 28-May-11 17:40:37

speaking of rain, what happens when it rains??? surely run needs plastic over it or it would be a mess?

and how long do chickens liver for anyway?

ProfYaffle Sat 28-May-11 18:55:26

I put polythene sheets over my run in the winter, it's cheap in garden centres. I find my chooks are too dim to seek shelter when it rains and then get all grumpy when they're wet. I shut them up in their run when it rains. If you're short of entertainment a handful of chickens and a sprinkler is good fun smile

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