Your Chicken Questions Answered by a Veterinarian. Honest and Practical Advice

Do chickens need to be on grass

No. Chickens do like to be on grass but it isn’t required, even if you choose to place your coop on grass, the chickens will tear it up and turn it into muck within a few days by pecking and trampling all over it

We sometimes let our chickens roam free in the garden for half an hour, just so they can get natural foods and eat some grass. But this is only possible if you have a fairly large garden and you also keep an eye on them so they don’t escape, get lost or hurt themselves.

They do like eating grass however, it isn’t good to feed them grass clippings though because they just end up eating far too much, which isn’t good for them. Another reason why you shouldn’t feed your hen’s grass clippings when you mow the lawn is that if you use any kind of chemicals like weed killer on your grass it can potentially make your hens sick and even worse.

It is ok though if they peck grass themselves but it isn’t a necessity. Over the years we’ve seen that nearly every chicken we’ve had is completely fine with no flooring at all but it is recommended as having no flooring will make your coop very muddy and messy.

Although a hen’s feces is a fertilizer and beneficial to plants they’re not good to keep on the grass. The main reason being that they’ll eat it, chickens love eating grass and they tear it up as well when they walk over it and with a splash of rain this all results in a muddy sticky mess within a couple of weeks.

What are the alternatives

Wood/bark chippings, straw anything that will be them occupied and roaming around. Having chippings also prevents the floor of the coop from becoming mucky as the chickens are constantly producing waste and trampling around.

Its also just much better for the chickens, it keeps them busy and they’ve always got places to poke their beaks into and search for food when you have wood chippings. It’s also important the chicken’s coop isn’t just bare and empty, having a few structures and features can really make a difference for them and make them feel comfortable at home.

Some people like to leave the ground as it is with only mud on the floor as chickens do love mud baths when it is dry but this comes with its own set of problems. There is very poor drainage when you don’t have a layer on the ground and as we mentioned before, it will just result in a very muddy, very messy chicken coop.

Having a layer on the ground is a must if you are going to be keeping chickens for the long run, without wood chippings or bark, the coop will begin to really smell and become very unhygienic

So what is the best flooring option?

In our opinion, bark chippings are the best flooring for the outside area for the coop, its really good at absorbing all the mess and it gives the chickens a great environment to live in. You can find wood chippings in garden centers or basically any farming shops.

If you can’t find wood chippings at any shop, they are widely available online as well.

For the inside of the coop, we wouldn’t recommend bark chippings as it is too rough and this is where the chickens sleep and lay eggs, so they need something comfortable. Instead, we would recommend wood shavings. this is also a great absorber and takes some of the kick out the smell. However, with wood shavings inside the coop, you want to make sure that you change it each week otherwise it will also get mucky.

You can also use straw inside your coop but we prefer to use wood shavings because they are softer and easier to clean out than straw.

For the outside of the coop, you don’t need to change the bark chippings too often, every 3-4 months we put on a fresh layer as we live in quite a wet area and a lot of the bark gets churned up into the soil, however, this does vary depending on the weather condition of where you live. Basically, you want to change it according to how badly it is churned up and how much it smells.

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