The Dallas Backyard Poultry Meetup Group Message Board General Discussion › Is it possible to raise chickens and have a nice yard?

Is it possible to raise chickens and have a nice yard?

Jackie M.
Jmutz5215
Dallas, TX
Post #: 1
I am seriously considering keeping two bantams hens but I also want to keep a nice looking backyard. My plan is to build a coop-run that measures 8'Lx5'Wx8'H. The coop and nesting boxes are elevated above the run. My back yard is secured with 8' wood fence and measures approx 40' W and 65'D with St. Augustine grass. I have a few beds with shrubs, ornamental grasses and a few perennials. I have a large water feature - 3 1/2' bowl vessel, which spills into hidden reservoir and is surrounded by gravel and pebbles. The beds have either mulch or Tejas gravel. I would like to be able to let the chickens have the rub of the backyard when I am home but would confine them to the coop-run at night and during work hours. I spend a lot of time on my patio and hosting outdoor get togethers.
Given this plan...will my backyard, as I know it, be destroyed? Everything I reads seems to indicate you must given up the ideal backyard if you want to raise chickens. Is there anyone out there that has enjoyed both?!? I would love to hear the good, the bad and the ugly.
Lori
user 10446596
Dallas, TX
Post #: 118
Two or three little bantams are not going to do much noticeable damage to the plants in a yard that size. If they're confined to a small area, yes, they can and do scratch and graze right down to the dirt. Our original five bantams reduced an 8 x 8 grass run to nothing but dirt in about a month. Out in the yard, they move around and don't concentrate their attention in one place. They might pick a spot in the beds to scratch and dustbathe, and disturb some plantings this way, but you could block them out with a small border fence.

Bantam droppings are small in comparison to a standard chicken's; out in the yard, the droppings will pretty much disappear into the grass. If your chickens decide to hang out on your patio for any length of time, they'll leave their droppings there, and you'll need to sweep and hose it off.

However, please be aware that when you are free ranging bantams in the yard, you risk losing them to neighborhood cats. Where a cat would hesitate to take on a standard size chicken (and might well be in for a licking if it did), the small size of a bantam makes them a more likely and vulnerable target. We never free range our bantam flock except when we're right there to watch them. And even then, we keep a sharp eye out for hawks. I know people who have had a chicken taken by a hawk even while they were there watching, too.

There are many absolutely gorgeous breeds of ornamental bantam chickens. You can see some of those breeds at the upcoming Fort Worth Stock show in January.

We spend many happy hours sitting in our backyard watching the antics of our flock. And..we get tasty little eggs, too.
Beth N.
CliffHanger
Dallas, TX
Post #: 8
There are some great books on how to have chicken compatible landscaping--such as Free Range Chicken Gardens by Jessi Bloom.
Jackie M.
Jmutz5215
Dallas, TX
Post #: 2
Thank you both for the reply and the recommended book by Jessi Bloom. I am glad to receive the encouraging news. The point about backyard predators is a concern of mine, especially the hawks. I live in east Dallas close to White Rock lake, which is well known for its hawk population. I am less concerned about cats entering the back yard due to my two dogs. ...which will be another challenge. I believe my Great Pyrenees will take it all in stride. It will take my other dog a little more time, requiring lots of supervised time on a leash. He does well with cats so I am hopeful the chickens will be equally welcomed.
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