How to Manage the Green Area in the Chicken Run
When planning the barn you should already pay attention to enough space for the chickens. Per animal one proceeds roughly from 10qm surface. With five animals, it quickly makes 50 sq m of exercise area that must be available. It’s better if you can plan for at least twice that. After three months, one half of the green area has been picked and is full with faeces. It’s best to give it a recovery phase and to simply move the fence to a second area. This requires a mobile chicken fence, as we use it.
So you always have a run area in use and one in the recovery phase. The chickens have a good lawn at all times, even in winter, which also minimizes infections by parasites. Otherwise, the green area quickly becomes a bare mud pit in winter.
To protect the turf so that the chickens can still move on it, a grid can be laid on bricks. The manure falls through the grid onto the lawn below and is washed away with the next rain. Grass that grows upwards through the grate can be picked away from the chickens at the same time.
An additional tip, regarding the protection of the turf, we got from a reader. In the trade there are so-called paddock plates, which are often used in stables of horses and cattle. It is a somewhat more expensive variant of our tip with the grid. These paddock plates can be placed on the grass, especially around the forage area. Here, too, the lawn can grow through the combs and be picked from above without damaging the turf. Or one fills these paddock plates with pebbles. The chicken excrement can also be washed away by the rain and does not collect.
If it is not possible to work with the principle of alternate grazing, the minimum is calculated as follows:
- 3 large hens need 30 sq m run
- 4-8 hens need at least a 80 sq m area
- for 12 chickens we recommend 120 sq m
- and 20 chickens require at least 400 sq m
Not only the chickens, also the running surface needs some care.
If you really divide the area into two or three areas, the unused area must recover. The best way to support this is to remove the chicken droppings with a rake – which reduces the risk of infection from worms – keeping the green area low so that the lawn can grow back, reseed the grass, fertilize and irrigate.
The following short video shows a natural green area for chickens.
Nearby trees and bushes, such as tall grass, provide natural protection for the chickens in their run. In this case, the very large chicken run prevents the green area from picking and shredding too quickly. If you have less space available, you have to work with tricks.
Check out the mobile hen house and the principle of changing pasture. In mobile chicken husbandry, exercise areas are alternately made available to the chickens every two to three weeks in order to give the unused area time to recover again.