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#63753 - 10/17/02 03:58 PM portable grass protector
Anonymous
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I had to pen my laying flock this past March due to a mink attack. I was concerned that they would not be able to eat all the grass in a 6,000 sq. ft. pen. Well, they did finally by killing it all in various spots then moving to 'greener pastures'. A possible solution is to make movable protectors for the grass. My idea is to put chicken wire over a frame and lay it flat on the ground. After the grass grows up a little bit in that spot, move it somewhere else. Then just rotate them around during the growing season.

This is a picture of my first grass protector. It is actually a cattle gate (which is pretty heavy) that I wired some poultry mesh to. There's not much left of our growing season now, but maybe some grass will come before the snow.


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#63754 - 10/17/02 04:01 PM Re: portable grass protector
Anonymous
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When I'm outside, YardBird is my ever-present companion....


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#63755 - 10/17/02 04:30 PM Re: portable grass protector
D. Caveny Offline
Ruler of the Roost

Registered: 07/16/02
Posts: 1102
Loc: Arizona
The Denver Zoo has their grills over various lawns with the width of a 2x4 as height to the wire. They don't move them. There is always enough grass leaf to keep the lawn healthy and the birds are just able to "mow" the grass which comes through the grill. I think this is the same principle which is used to graze cattle it allows the plants to maintain enough leaf to root ratio to keep the roots healthy and the grass growing as long as there is enough water. The birds should provide adequate fertilizer.

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#63756 - 10/17/02 04:42 PM Re: portable grass protector
Anonymous
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Good idea Leee! Boy, that Yardbird is one good looking rooster!

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#63757 - 10/17/02 04:54 PM Re: portable grass protector
Rob Offline
Ruler of the Roost

Registered: 07/16/02
Posts: 783
Loc: Pennsylvania
At one time I used a similar method. 2"x6" frames with 1"x2" welded wire, each frame was 3 feet x 8 feet. I had enuff to cover the 24x36 fenced in area. I could raise them and rototill/reseed underneath, only had to do this once. As Caveny stated, the manure aids fertility, the rain keeps thing clean, and birds cannot overgraze the forage. I di not use treated lumber and it lasted about 10 years. I seeded oats in spring and they ate them with relish, when oats gave out the grasses/clovers came on. I no longer use the system, not because it did not no work well.

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#63758 - 10/18/02 03:22 AM Re: portable grass protector
Big Boy Offline
Ruler of the Roost

Registered: 07/17/02
Posts: 845
Loc: Kansas
I would concur with Rob on this one. The better way (not necessarily the easiest and/or cheepest!) is to have a paddock pasturage in which the fowl are rotated through the various lots: as the one is being used, the others are in various stages of recovery. I only do that now with the turkeys. Bill Durbin used to use a Bermuda pasture for his waterfowl and it worked quite well but each area would have its own choice of grasses and/or legumes.

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#63759 - 10/18/02 03:53 AM Re: portable grass protector
Anonymous
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My farm is on the Big Sioux River so we have a lot of coons, mink, muskrat, possum, et cetera. Rotating the pasture is not an option. Since the land configuration does not allow separate 6K - 10k areas adjoining a single poultry house, the poultry house needs to be portable (which it isn't) or multiple poultry houses are necessary, which is economically impossible.

The flat grate grass protectors seems to me to be a good 'stationary' approach - at least that's what I believe at present. I may change my mind next season.

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#63760 - 10/18/02 04:45 AM Re: portable grass protector
Big Boy Offline
Ruler of the Roost

Registered: 07/17/02
Posts: 845
Loc: Kansas
Thanks, Leee, for reminding me that not every place is as flat as Kansas. I, too, used to have varmint problems (still do if the fowl wander too far into the woods) until we got our two dogs. It was a struggle to get them trained but well worth it now. The problem is that you and I both have too many birds to use much in the way of alternative methods. Would it help to cover more area by using scrap 2x2s and constructing frames with the wire on them? I used to make 8'x12' 2x2 frames with 8' 1x2s set on edge every 3' to support the chicken wire and nailed triangular wooden pieces at the outer frame joints to stiffen the frame. It's fairly light and not too bad on the wallet. I ended up standing them upright and connecting them with hook'n'eyes, using four or more of them for moveable pens. Originally I laid them flat side down on the perennial beds in the fall so that the plants would be OK (shop-worn but still OK) while the birds cleaned up the 'goodies'.

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#63761 - 10/18/02 08:53 AM Re: portable grass protector
Anonymous
Unregistered


Leee, why don't you consider cats as protection?
We have neighbor's cats hanging around here- apparently all named "git".The yearly weasel kill, fox kill(11 rabbits) racoon (3-6 trapped yearly) possom (dozens yearky) bobcat, and othere s have stopped. No snakes.
These are the best cats i have ever seen since I have been here. the landowners want them gone and of course i don['t want to see them destroyed, they are too good. But they need a working barn cat position, they would not make good housepets.
Iw wont press, since they are really too small to be far north cats, too cold for them. But they have cleaned up all my predator problems, and I have shabby little coops very easy to break into. They challlenge other animals that come to the coop area and clean up all the dropped chick mash and any carcass. I see them searching under the hutches at night, sniffing the ground like hounds. Truly weird cats.
I have trained a litter of kittens to have a taste for mouse and snake. If you could get a little group of cats on patrol then you will have some excellent poultry security. You will have to keep them out of the tiny chicks, after all they are oppornistic predators, and chicks are really the size of the prey cats are designed to catch.

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#63762 - 10/18/02 10:00 AM Re: portable grass protector
Anonymous
Unregistered


It has actually been nice to have the hens penned. Now, I know where the eggs are! This is not trivial, since I my goal is for the hens to pay for the poultry here.

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#63763 - 10/18/02 05:57 PM Re: portable grass protector
Anonymous
Unregistered


i know i know.
Still i am on the edge of big woods here. there is a steady stream of predators in this area, but they are respectful of the cats. and this includes cats pooping under an spraying the walls of your coops.
it has been nice to have them around to keep teh varmits out, including weasel. Every mammal that approaches, they come out and circle around and watch. SEems like most wild animals don't like an audience.
mink is a large weasel. the cats don't seem to do anything in the day. its at night, i cannot live trap a single thing. and there is possom poop stack on a log about 100 ft away, up the slope...

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#63764 - 10/18/02 06:11 PM Re: portable grass protector
Anonymous
Unregistered


my birds are penned too. the yards get so muddy though.
hey here's a twist- does any one know of a tougheasy to grow forage to grow in a fencerow to feed to chickens? just a cut and throw thing, no wire and grass to worry about, let them turn the ground to bare dirt. I use only wild plants as i am not permitted to plant anything and under these truly large trees only poison ivy and ferns grow anyway.
i have used grain and stuff in the past, but im talkin g really cheap- like no space and no money wasted. i vote for dandelion and chicory and both of these are edible but very bitter. really takes a strong constitution to swallow those bitter things.
there is a rather shady slope here and the only "crop" iis chickweed which is very nice but only available latest winter to late spring. dandelion is weak here there is little space and the owner cuts these hard to the ground. there is hardly any weeds as per "edible wild plants" or other references, this is some truly poor soil here for foraging and you have to drive miles to get chicory, and doing that seems to attract too much attention, anyway, even on quiet roedsides!
the slope is full of japanese grass an alien plant grows very very well but hard hard stemmy and leaves indigestible as bamboo leaves. what can i put there besides kudzu, which is also not allowed?

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#63765 - 10/18/02 07:32 PM Re: portable grass protector
D. Caveny Offline
Ruler of the Roost

Registered: 07/16/02
Posts: 1102
Loc: Arizona
If you look at old books from around the turn of the last century kale was a very common crop for poultry.

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