If you keep your chickens in the run, you may wonder if you need grass for them.
So, do chickens need grass in their run? No, chickens don’t need grass in their run. They can live with or without grass. If you do place their run onto grass, it will quickly get destroyed by the chickens.
Can Chickens Live Without Grass?
Chickens don’t need grass to survive. They can live on dirt, concrete, or wood.
If there is grass, they will scratch the grass looking for tasty treats such as bugs, seeds, and worms.
If you have a large flock, within a day or so, all the grass will be gone.
Do Chickens Prefer Grass Or Dirt?
For the chicken run, the grass is the preferable option to dirt. The reason is due to the chickens not being clean animals.
If there is dirt, it can quickly turn to mud when wet. For chickens, a wet surface is not good for them to be in. Wet feathers could lead to sickness.
Also, you’ll have to give them a bath to remove all the dirt.
If the grass isn’t available, you have the option to use sand, wood shaving, or pebbles as a covering for the run.
How To Keep Chicken Runs On Grass
If you ever keep the chicken coop and run on the grass, you’ll know how fast the grass will get destroyed. Foraging is natural to them, and the grass is an excellent place where bugs and worms can be found.
Some people will want their grass to be intact. After all, grass adds beauty to the entire yard.
Therefore, there are a couple of ways to keep the grass from being destroyed. The first option is to keep fewer chickens in each run. The fewer chickens there are, the less chance the grass will be damaged.
The next option is to get a movable run. This will allow you to move the run to a different location every day.
The longer the chickens stay at a single location, the more likely they will damage the grass. For a large flock, move the run a few times a day.
On the other hand, for a small flock, you can move the run once a day.
By moving them around often, the grass will have time to grow back. The best part of all, there will be no bald spot in your yard.
If some area of the yard is bald, you can speed up the recovery process by sprinkling some grass seeds. A good seed to use is hardwearing lawn seed, which has about 50% ryegrass.
Why You Should Move Chicken Run Often
Chickens are natural foragers, which means they will scratch, peck, and dig the ground. If there is grass in the run, it will all get pulled out if you leave the run in the same location for a long time.
When there is no more grass in the run, you’ll be left with only soil. For that reason, you should consider the pH of the soil. The pH affects the condition and quality of the soil, which will ruin it over time.
One of the things that affect the pH level, is chicken poop. Chicken poop often, and they don’t have a certain location for eliminating their waste. They will eliminate their waste everywhere in the run. Their poop will leave the soil at an unhealthy level of phosphates and salt.
When the pH levels reach too high, the quality of the grass will be affected greatly. Grass will grow very small and some will not grow at all.
To help neutralize the pH levels of the soil, you can put limestone in the chicken run. There are many types of limestone available on the market. The safest form of limestone is untreated, pelleted, or powdered limestone.
Avoid using hydrated or slaked limestone. These types can become corrosive when wet, which will make them unsafe for the chickens.
Alternative Bases For Chicken Runs
During the winter, the ground will be damp and wet most of the time. This isn’t ideal for the chickens.
Chickens that are constantly standing in wet mud will develop health problems. It could cause their body temperature to drop, which will cause them to become sick.
Also, they could get bumblefoot, which is an infection caused by the staphylococcus bacteria.
Another thing is that the chickens could carry the mud into their coop, which will cause more mess.
Therefore, it’s a good idea to cover the ground with material that helps prevent their feet from becoming wet. Some good floor coverings include:
- Chipped wood- Avoid using bark as it can contain fungus.
- Wood shaving
- Shingle type gravel
Chickens don’t need grass in their run to survive. However, it’s a good idea to have other materials in place of grass, especially during the winter and rainy seasons. The wetness of the dirt can cause them health issues and create a lot of mess. There are other materials such as straw, wood shaving, and chipped woods that you can use.