Whenever you let the chickens out of the coop, they run to the yard and start to eat the clippings of grass. You may wonder if they are having fun or feeding. Well, they are usually feeding. And if you are wondering if the grass they eat is beneficial, the answer is yes.
According to Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems research, chickens that feed on green pastures have improved egg productivity, growth, and better meat. Besides these, chickens derive other healthy gains when they eat grass.
To ensure that your chickens benefit from grass, you should understand how to incorporate pasture in their feed and the precautions to take. This article will share all the details on grass and chickens that you need to know.
Table of Contents
- 1 Why should chickens feed on grass?
- 2 What is the best grass to feed chicken?
- 3 How to grow grass in a chicken coop
- 4 Fast-growing grass for chickens
- 5 How to feed grass to confined chickens
- 6 Chickens and grass
Why should chickens feed on grass?
There are numerous reasons why chickens need to feed on grass. To start with, they produce eggs with more nutrient content than the chickens who lack grass.
Here is what you need to know. If egg-laying chickens can eat grass when out in the field, the eggs produced will have the following advantages:
- They contain 2-3 times vitamin A
- They have half the cholesterol
- Contain seven times the higher beta carotene
- Contain more omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids
- They have less saturated fat
- Have three times vitamin E
Other benefits of grass to chicken include:
- Grass provides fiber which assists in food digestion
- Chicken, while eating the grass, will absorb vitamin D from the sunshine
- Grass has protein content which is essential in the formation of muscles, organs, and tissue. For instance, ryegrass contains 11-16% protein content.
- Improved hatch rate
- Grass provides chicken with vitamin E and C, and iron
Surprisingly, chickens tend to eat less after feeding on grass since it already provides almost ⅟4 of their daily nutrient requirements. Therefore, you will save money since you will buy lesser quantities of chicken feed.
What is the best grass to feed chicken?
The grass’s nutritional value changes depending on the seasons and its growth stage. Here is an outline of grass’s nutritional value per season:
- Spring: High sugar levels but low fiber and protein levels
- Summer: lower levels of protein and sugar
- Early autumn: Higher levels of protein and sugar than in summer
- Winter: Generally low nutrient value
Green grass is the best type to feed your chicken since it has massive amounts of vitamins and nutrients. Feeding chicken with dry, brown grass has fewer benefits since their digestive systems cannot digest the cellulose in the dry grass. However, you can let your chicken free range in a yard with dry grass since they can find insects to eat.
Crabgrass and clover are some common grass types beneficial to your chickens. However, even other types of grass will be helpful as far as the chickens feed on them when they are young and green.
How to grow grass in a chicken coop
Growing grass in or around the chicken coop will give them nutrients and improve their egg production. This is a possibility because they will peck and nibble on them. To grow grass in your chicken coop, do this:
1. Test the soil pH
Since grass relies on the soil nutrients to grow, you need to know the soil pH before planting. Use the results to determine how to improve the soil for optimum grass growth.
2. Prepare the soil
Once you have set the planting place, it’s time for tillage. The tillage process will include removing weeds, adding manure, digging, and achieving a soft planting ground with no rocks or clods.
You should use hand-held tools to prepare the soil since you cannot use machinery in the chicken coop.
3. Construct a wooden box frame
The frame’s measurements will depend on the size of your chicken coop. The box can be 1×1 meters (length by width) or more. After determining the measurements, construct the wooden box frame using timber frames.
4. Cover the box using wire mesh
Tack the wire mesh onto the box frame and then cut the wire mesh that will fit the size of the wooden box frame. Use the wire mesh to cover the box, ensuring that you have pulled the wire mesh tight on all sides.
5. Sow the grass
Take the sowing seeds and sow them evenly on the soil using your hands or a hand-held tool. Once done, take the box with the wire mesh and place it on the grass plot to cover it. Spray water over the plot evenly to promote germination.
Fast-growing grass for chickens
For grass to grow, it requires adequate water, healthy soil, and enough nutrients. If you need fast-growing grass that will benefit your chickens, go for Bermuda grass. This grass type is drought-resistant, fast-growing, and can grow ten feet high and 6 feet wide.
Bermuda grass is also grown for pasture and will give your lush garden greenery. To ensure it grows fast, keep the field weed-free and supply it with adequate water and nutrients. Keep it free of chemicals like pesticides to avoid poisoning your chickens.
How to feed grass to confined chickens
You can provide grass clippings to your chicken if you cannot release them to free range. The clippings will provide the chickens with minerals and vitamins. However, you should note the following:
- Do not feed your chicken with grass clipping after recently applying chemicals or fertilizer, as this can cause poisoning or death.
- Chop the grass into small pieces. Chickens only eat tiny clippings of grass for easy swallowing and digesting. Therefore, provide little bits that the chicken can swallow.
After cutting the clippings, the grass can turn brown very quickly, thus losing its nutritional value. To prevent the grass from drying up quickly, put them in a plastic water tub. Submerging will make them last for up to 7 days, and your chickens will enjoy dunking their beaks into the water to pick the grass.
Chickens and grass
There are numerous benefits that chickens get from grass. However, chickens cannot survive on green pasture alone. You will need to provide them with adequate water and feeds.
Just like wild turkeys in your yard, chickens will benefit from your grass yard but can also damage it. It is also possible to notice an increase in green chicken poop if they overfeed on green grass.
If you let many chickens go to the yard frequently, their poop with high ammonia levels may make the grass dry up. You can limit the times you let them out and always spread their manure by mowing or raking.