Friday, June 10, 2011

Yes, Chickens Eat Grass

One of the goals of the mobile chicken coup, as I understand it, is to provide fresh grass as feed. It cuts down the cost of grain and makes healthier, less fatty, birds. (Since raising our own birds, we've had a very hard time enjoying the fatty ones that rule the market). Mobile coups are a way to provide a controlled free range. They are priceless for small acre gardeners like us with close neighbors.

We've been learning that some birds are more eager to eat grass than others. Freedom Rangers, as their name suggests, are much more eager grass eaters than say Cornish Cross, whose only desire is that you would place the watering dish so close to the feeding dish that they don't ever have to stand up.

This time we have Silver Cross. We were a bit unsure of this breed's interest in grass, especially because (like the Cornish) they're bred to be big birds.

One way to encourage grass eating is to present grass to the birds before they ever enter the mobile coup. (Chicks always spend the first 2 or 3 weeks of their lives indoors, under lights). While these Silvers were still in the shed as chicks, we plucked handfuls of grass and clover to offer an alternative to grain.

We've been surprisingly pleased with this breed. They've proven to be very active, attractive and voracious grass eaters. Our neighbor calls them the perfect lawn mower.

This is our tractor coup. It's simple, easy to move and quite effective for free ranging (except in wind storms!).

If you look closely, you'll see the path of the coup on the right. There are several rectangle patches. Each one is a day's worth of eaten grass.


  1. Oh I have been begging for a mobile coop just for meat birds! They really do blaze a trail there! Hey, I just read an article today that the FDA said they have found arsenic in our commercial poultry. You are doing the right thing!!!

  2. I'm so jealous of your chickens! When me and the lady have a house (hopefully in the next 5 years!) all bets are off... Chickens, ducks, horses and maybe even a cow!

  3. Here's another that jealous of your chickens! ugh, having a mobile type home for them is terrific..and just imagine how fertile the ground is afterwards :o) I'd like to rotate them in the gardens :o)..I wish there was some way I could have them too.

  4. Apple Pie Gal, thanks we like to think it's a good thing. We're thankful for cooperative neighbors and we love the good eats!

    Cloud, we hope you and your girl have more animals than you know what to do with. We'll be happy to know they're being treated right by someone.

    Ginny, the ground is very fertile, although they take their toll on the grass. We won't see it recover until the fall rains. What we also love is the manure we're able to gather for the compost bin. So sorry you can't have them at your place. Maybe a couple layers could find a home there someday?