Can you have a healthy lawn if you have chickens?

Posted on July 31, 2020 by Ashlee Hall

If we had to answer the title question in one word, then we would say yes - yes, you can have a healthy lawn if you have chickens.

Image courtesy of Lawn Solutions Australia

But, the actual answer isn’t quite as simple as a yes or a no - there are a few more things to consider. So, if you are thinking about getting chickens (or already have them) and are wondering whether your lawn has to suffer, it certainly doesn’t have too. Give our friendly and knowledgeable Rosemount Turf team a call today to learn more!

Your lawn and chickens

Although we said that your lawn can still thrive with chickens, there is a little more to it than that. Whether your lawn is happy with chickens really depends on:

  1. How big your lawn is; and
  2. How many chickens you have.

If your turf is thick and lush, without any bare patches, it will likely be healthy enough with chickens around… provided there aren’t too many. When you think about it, chickens eat heaps of things such as leaves, bugs, slugs, weeds and grass clippings, all while aerating your soil. This has a range of benefits but, if you do have some bare patches in your yard, we recommend putting some wire mesh over the area so your chickens don’t make them worse (and allow them to repair).

Another aspect to consider is the type of lawn you have - is it the best option for your area? It is really important to choose a turf that allows for the best chance of success, especially if you have chickens making themselves at home. Ultimately however, you’ll have to monitor your lawn to determine if action is required.

Should I let my chickens roam free on my lawn?

Chickens love to both dig holes and take dust baths, which could result in your lawn looking a little worse for wear. However, you can largely avoid this by using some sort of enclosure or deterrent - the simplest option is to just fence off the specific areas that you don’t want your chickens on or in. 

If this option isn’t suited to your circumstances, consider installing a large coop so your chickens can still run around. The lawn inside the coop will likely die, but the rest of your lawn will remain chicken-free and healthy.

Additionally, chickens love to pick at your fruit and veggies and their manure can contain pathogens, so if you’re thinking of allowing them to roam, place some wire cages over these areas to prevent damaging attacks and contamination problems.

What do I do if my chickens are digging where I don’t want them too?

If you are finding that your chickens are digging in areas that they are not welcome, it is recommended that you create a ‘kitty litter’ area, or just a box with some coarse sand in it. This will direct their attention to this area, so they can take a dust bath here instead.

Another option that is very common with chicken lovers is to employ a lawn tractor, which is also known as a chicken mower. This option gives you almost complete control over your chickens’ access to your lawn, with many chicken lovers adopting this approach as it offers a good compromise. These movable pens, often with wire at the base, allow you to supply your chickens with fresh grass, while the pens prevent excessive digging.

Chickens and fertiliser

An important factor to remember is that granular fertiliser and chickens do not mix.  Chickens can peck and pick at granules buried in your lawn, so it is strongly suggested that you do not spread granular fertiliser where your chickens like to roam. If you do want to fertilise in these areas, you must make sure the granules have completely dissolved before you allow your chickens back into those areas.

Chickens offer free lawn food

When you think about it, chickens can help your lawn in so many ways. They eat a range of pests that are damaging to your lawn, as well as create a free and nutrient rich organic fertiliser. Chicken manure has high levels of nitrogen though, so it can burn your lawn if it is too concentrated in only one area. Also, the manure contains pathogens, so beware if you have children, or pets apart from chickens. It’s for this reason fresh chook poo is no good for applying to your veggie patch, and must be composted first!

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