Tour of the layer pastures

Laying hens

In my last post, I took
you on a
of the three pastures we use for
our broilers
, so I
thought I’d round it off with a look at the pastures our layers live in
during the warm season.  Our layer flock currently consists of
five hens and a rooster, but we sometimes have upwards of ten birds in
there, and the current layout just barely handles that many chickens.

Grassy pasture

Pasture 3 (1,170 square
feet) is in an area that was reclaimed from the woods a couple of years
before it turned into pasture.  So, unlike all of the pastures I
wrote about previously, this one was already lawnlike and has
maintained its grassy character (except for a path we use twice daily
to walk to the coop).  Although I can leave our layers in here for
a week with no problems, they do run out of the tastiest morsels and
start lazing about most of the time within a couple of days.  I’ll
be slowly
complexity to the pasture
to give our flock more
homegrown food and more fun.

Warre hive

Pasture 4 (aka “the bee
pasture,” 1,040 square feet) is pretty much identical to pasture 3,
except it’s a bit shadier, contains a young Asian persimmon and our bee
hive, and is
L-shaped.  The chickens enjoy
the safety of the hedge-like fences (covered in Japanese honeysuckle),
although I don’t like the invasive plant and know it’s going to pull my
fences down before long.

Forest pasture

Pasture 5 (aka “the
mulberry pasture,” 1,040 square feet) was problematic until this
year.  When I first turned chickens into this area, I didn’t
realize that tall weeds and bushes would shade out the tender
Mulch boxundergrowth,
so I lost most of the existing plants.  And I didn’t realize that
if I seeded grasses and clovers, then let the chickens into the area
the next spring, they’d nibble the seedlings until they were nearly
gone.  The pasture does seem to be slowly turning into a solid sod
this year, although quite a bit of
chickweed turned up there over the
winter (meaning there was lots of bare ground last fall).  I
suspect the plants in pasture 5 will let me down this summer, but
hopefully by next year, the sward will be firm enough to withstand
chicken feet all through the growing season.

Young grass

New grass and cloverPasture 6 (2,080 square feet)
is on sabbatical this summer for the same reason pasture 4 is currently
problematic.  Hopefully letting the pasture have a few extra
months off will give the newly seeded bluegrass and white clover time
to grow, and will make this a premium grazing spot next year.

Like our broiler pasture
situation, our layer pastures are just barely sufficient during most
seasons, but let us down during the height of the summer.  (During
the winter, I turn the chickens into the woods so they don’t ruin my
pastures.)  My primary goals for improving these pastures include:

  • Adding fruiting trees (Asian persimmons and mulberries)
  • Planting comfrey along the fencelines to keep other weeds down
  • Getting a solid sward going in pastures 5 and 6 so there’s no
    more bare ground

I hope this two-post
tour of our pasture situation has been edifying, not boring!  Feel
free to leave questions in the comments if you’re still confused about

The Avian Aqua Miser is a POOP-free chicken
waterer, now used around the world.

Latest Comments

  1. Errol May 22, 2013
  2. anna May 27, 2013

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