Friday, June 7, 2013

Making a Grazing Frame for your Chickens ~Easy DIY Project

Since I don't have grass (or anything green) growing in my yard, not even in the spring or summer, I thought I would try growing some greenery inside the chicken run using a grazing frame.  You may have seen my grazing from in the pictures in an earlier post about Big Red our new flock member.   A grazing frame is basically a wood frame with hardware cloth attached to the top side.  You can either place it over existing grass to allow the chickens to graze that area and enjoy the grass without allowing them to scratch the roots up or devour the patch of greenery altogether.  Or if you are like me and don't have any greens naturally growing, you can plant them and cover the area with a grazing frame to keep the chickens from digging up the seeds while they grow.  The sprouts will grow up and out through the hardware cloth so the chickens can enjoy the parts that stick up out of the frame, but the plant and roots remain safely under the hardware cloth.

I stole some 2x4's that the hubby is using to build a storage shed...he wont miss three little boards will he?  I left two of the board the full 8' lengths.  I cut one 8' board into four 2' lengths.  Then I attached them like this.

I then stapled hardware cloth to the top side.  Then I trimmed off the excess hardware cloth.

I could have used redwood or cedar instead of pine, but I figured if the wood rotted over the next few years and I had to rebuild it, it was still cheaper then spending twice or three times as much on redwood or cedar...besides, the hubby already had this big stack of pine he bought for the storage shed.

I cleared an out-of-the way area inside the chicken run, big enough for the grazing frame.

I laid the grazing frame over that area and pushed the gravel up against the sides of the frame to help keep it in place.  As mentioned earlier, you can plant your seed in the soil then put the frame on top of that, but I was feeling lazy so I put the frame down first.

Then I shoveled my super-soil and manure mixture on top of the hardware cloth so the dirt fell through but the chunks were caught by the tight weave of the cloth.  I tried to make sure the soil inside was some what level but I didn't put a whole lot of effort into it because Perfectionism is something I have outgrown.

Then I sprinkled a mixture of equal parts pasture grass seed and wild bird seed (about 1 cup of each) on top of the soil.  Then I added another light layer of soil by hand to gently cover the seeds but not bury them to deeply.  Then I sprinkled water over the entire grazing frame.

A little later Barry and Goldie (my two most curious chicks) did the final inspection.  It met their approval so my work here was done.  Now I just need to water it once or twice a day, depending on the temperatures. 

After 3 days of watering I didn't see any sprouts yet...but on day 4 look what I found!

Day 4 -Spouts appear!

And here are the sprouts on Day 5.  There are several patches throughout the frame like this.  By next week they should be poking up out of the wire for the chickens to nibble on.

Day 5

This grazing frame will allow me to grow fresh greens inside the chicken run for the chickens to eat, while preventing the chickens from being able to dig up the roots or eat the plants down to the roots, so my chickens can 'graze' on their greens throughout the spring and summer months.  I wasn't sure how much seed to apply at first, but now I can see that I needed more.   So I plan to re-seed periodically until this grazing frame is densely filled with green treats for the chicks.

Since this will probably not grow well in to the winter months, I have been experimenting with growing fodder in my mini greenhouse.  I will be sharing what I learn from my experimentation in another post coming up very soon!

Keeper of 1 husband, 2 grandkids, 3 dogs,
3 cats, and 17 Chickens!
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This post was also shared in the Creative HomeAcre Hop #19