Rotational Grazing is the practice of moving grazing livestock from pasture (sometimes referred to as "Paddock") to pasture on a regular basis. This method has been used by famers around the globe for years, but is it really practical for raising chickens in your backyard? The short answer is yes! We'll explain...
Why Should I Do It?
- Exposes chickens to more diverse diet of plants, seeds, insects, etc. which leads to happier and healthier chickens!
- Maintain the health of your yard by confining chickens to small sections at a time; after they clear all of the weeds, etc. in one section, the chickens will be moved to the next and the soil within the first section has time to heal and re-populate with even more nutritious plants/insects.
- And of course... Save money on chicken feed. (Some find they no longer need to purchase feed at all!)
Tips For How To Implement Rotational Grazing In Your Yard
- Create yard sections (Paddocks) to rotate your flock between; have a plan, come up with a specific rotation scheme. Keep in mind, a good general rule of thumb is 10 square feet of pasture per bird.
- Place your coop in a central location between these sections so that rotating chickens is as effortless as it can be.
- Utilize mobile/movable fencing; having permanent fencing can limit the use of your yard/pasture and can be quite costly. Electric netting is an affordable option that is easy to move around and re-configure to your exact needs. Additionally, the electric charge is great for deterring predators who might try to break into your chicken run or coop. Check out Starkline Poultry Netting
- Seed your paddocks with greens that chickens love to eat; Clover is an excellent option that contains magnesium, potassium, vitamins A, E, & C. All very beneficial to the health of your chickens!
- Maintain the Paddock; the vegetation should be kept between 2 inches and 8 inches. Any taller than 8 inches and the greens stiffen up and become harder for chickens to digest. Additionally, allowing time for each paddock to re-seed and grow back before reintroducing the chickens is critical. Make sure you plan out the best rotation schedule for your needs!
As you can tell, this process does require some planning, but really isn't that difficult for anyone to take advantage of. Hopefully with these tips you will be able to improve the health and mood of your chickens, keep your yard healthy and green, and reduce your costs.