One of the best things about raising chickens is the ability to control exactly what they eat. This ensures that the chickens – and the food they provide in the form of meat and eggs – are as healthy as possible. Chickens enjoy a variety of foods besides seeds and grains. They love to eat plants and insects, as well as most kitchen scraps. Providing a variety of foods, including fresh greens for chickens, helps keep them optimally healthy. Foraging for some of their food, as opposed to solely eating out of a feeder, adds enrichment to their day and prevents boredom.
The last time I had chickens, our house was on a ranch in the middle of nowhere and our birds had unlimited space to roam and graze. Every day when I let them out of their coop they wandered around our yard, eating grass, catching grasshoppers out of my garden, and occasionally munching on alfalfa from the neighboring pasture. It was perfect! If you live in a similar area, with lots of room for your chickens to roam, they’ll enjoy grazing on an assortment of greens and grasses as they forage.
In smaller spaces, it is much more challenging to provide chickens a consistent supply of fresh greens. Growing grass in a chicken pen is nearly impossible, as chickens naturally scratch the ground for their food. They’ll scratch your would-be grass patch to nothing and probably enjoy eating the seeds in the process. Sure, you can just toss some grass clippings into their pen now and then, but it’s nice to have something more permanent. Grazing frames are an awesome solution to this problem and make a quick, inexpensive DIY project.
A grazing frame is simply a box that grass or grain seedlings are planted in. The boxes are covered in wire that protects the young plants from scratching chickens. The grass grows up through the wire and the chickens graze on the emerging seedlings as they please. The plants keep growing as the chickens trim the tops, and can be replanted as often as necessary to provide an endless supply of greens. Brilliant, right? All you need to build one yourself is some chicken wire, a few 2x4s, and a little time.
To see how to build a chicken grazing frame, check out the video below from Home Farm Ideas. You can follow their tutorials to provide your chickens their own simple, renewable supply of fresh greens.