So, how do you make a grazing box for your chickens? You can easily build a grazing box for your backyard chickens using simple materials found at home. The materials and labor will not cost you a fortune as such. But the completed grazing box will help your birds achieve their dietary needs.
When I let my chickens enjoy their surroundings, I allow them to graze on some fresh grass. I know it is a wise idea not only for them but also for me. In their case, the nutrients found in green vegetation improves the quality of their meat and eggs. Given that most fresh greens make up to 30% of your chickens’ diet giving them to your flock can possibly save you on food costs. But you will need a well functioning grazing box to help your birds enjoy this abundant meal.
A good grazing box comes in handy to control your birds while grazing on fresh grass. Without it, you will not be able to manage your flock when feeding on grass. This is because they will have plenty of space to roam the place. In the end, you will notice the uneven growth of grass, and this is not a pleasant sight for you.
But if you have a limited forage space, you can help your birds utilize it in an organized way. You can use grazing frames or grazing boxes to control their grazing. This option is helpful if you are raising your chickens in a small urban, confined areas or suburban backyard.
Common Solutions of Providing Fresh Greens to Your Flock
If you cannot provide your birds with grazing boxes, you can find easy ways of greening them. This is where common solutions for bringing fresh greens to your birds come to play.
You can accomplish this task in the following ways:
Construct a chicken tractor: This option is applicable if you have a little space in your backyard. Also, you may adopt it if you are willing to move the tractor from location to location. An ideal tractor is one that has an open bottom to let you have full control of your chickens as they forage in the yard.
The best thing about using this method is that your chickens will help till or fertilize the soil and control weeds as well as pests in your vegetable beds. The tractor can also help your chickens find new spots for fresh grass each day.
Bring the fresh vegetation to your chickens: Collect food scraps, sprouted grains, garden debris, and other greens to feed your birds. All these are good ways to provide them with supplemental greens. Just toss a few of these treats to them, and they will definitely have a great feast.
Adopt a paddock system: Here, you are required to build a chicken coop in the middle of at least three enclosed yards. The system allows you to give your birds access to each sub-yard at different times. After they have depleted vegetation in one section of the yard, you may move them to the next yard in a rotating manner.
Grow green vegetation for your chickens: This solution can also apply in the paddock system, simple day-run setup, or free-range. Whichever way you choose, rest assured that your birds will have access to fresh vegetation throughout.
The solutions, as mentioned earlier, can work to your advantage when you have a particular space or needs for your chickens. Even though each solution will provide your birds with fresh vegetables, there is yet another more effective solution. This is the grazing boxes, and they are easy to construct, set up, and maintain. Above all, they can provide your flock with a steady supply of fresh green grass within a small area.
Grazing Boxes (Grazing Frames)
Grazing boxes are simple 2×4 frames complete with hardware cloth or welded wire mesh attached at the top. This structure looks like a raised bed for your chickens to enjoy eating fresh grass.
It is usually set above an area full of grass for some time to allow vegetation to grow up through the wire mesh. Once grown, your birds can snack on fresh green tips all day long.
The frame on this structure protects the roots against damage from chickens. With the roots protected, the grass will survive and grow for future use.
Factors to Consider Before Making a Grazing Box
- Time: Time is of the essence when working on the grazing box for your birds. In this case, you should spend at least 30 minutes working on each frame.
- Measurements: You may choose your own measurements depending on your needs and materials. Feel free to adjust the measurements to get the exact size of the grazing box that can accommodate all your chickens.
- Safety: For your protection, when working on this project, read through the manufactures’ instructions for each tool, materials, and equipment you are going to use. Keep your eyes, nose, ears, and limbs safe throughout.
How to Build Your Grazing Box
- 2.0×6.0x10.0 feet of the heat-treated board (cut into four 2.6-feet pieces)
- ½ or 1-inch welded wire mesh (hardware cloth), at least 2.6×2.6 feet
- Finishing nails or galvanized poultry fencing staples
- Eight 4-inch wood screws
- A screwdriver
- A hammer
- A tape measure
- Wire cutters or wire snips
- Stapler (just in case you are going to use staples)
- Seeds for greens and herbs
- Composted manure and soil
This project gives you an option to adjust the measurements of your grazing boxes. Keep in mind that the size is dictated by the number of chickens that will use it. So, you can make your design larger or smaller, depending on the size of your flock.
If you have a flock of up to 10 birds, you can use the following procedure and size to make a more practical box for them.
1. Cut the wood into 4 equal pieces. Each piece should measure 2.6 feet long. Sand the cut pieces lightly and gently. Then paint, treat, or seal them using the non-toxic wood preservatives. Proceed to screw them together to form a box. The 4-inch screws will do better for this task if you want the wood pieces to be secured together.
2. Add the welded wire mesh or hardware cloth to the frame. Decide on what you want to use-whether nails or staples-to attach the welded wire mesh or hardware cloth to the frame. In this case, finishing nails will be the best option for you. These nails are easy to bend and can firmly hold the hardware in place for so long. Regardless, both staples and nails can withstand your chickens well.
3. Before you attach the welded wire mesh or hardware cloth, cut it carefully to make a slight overhang. Then stamp down all the edges using the harmer to make the entire grazing box safe for your birds.
4. Find a proper location for the grazing box. Once you get the ideal location to set your grazing frame, make an even bed of soil. The soil should be well-fertilized before planting the grain or grass seed.
5.Set the grazing box over your seeded ground. Make some adjustments to find the right position for the box. Then provide a gentle watering to speed up seed germination. Allow the sun to do the rest for you as you keep on watering the bed for some days after planting. If you do it right, the grasstops will soon stick up just above the wire. If this happens, just know it is time for your birds to feast on their newly grown pasture paradise.
How to Maintain Your Grazing Box Pasture
The best thing about setting up grazing frames for your flock is that they won’t require a lot of maintenance. Your chickens will help you keep the pasture green by providing enough organic manure through their droppings.
All you will have to do is to hose the manure down the cracks while doing occasional watering of the bed. However, you should regulate the amount of manure in the bed because excess nitro-poop can easily burn the grass.
What else should I grow in my grazing box for the chickens to forage on? There are many options that your birds will love once they see them in the grazing box. They include alfalfa, oregano, sage, calendula, parsley, garlic, wheatgrass, barley grass, kale, mustard, and many other greens. Most of these plants are a great source of nutrients such as protein, vitamins, and carbohydrates.
How do I protect the growing grass in the grazing box? You may use a transparent cover or a large piece of plastic material to cover the grazing box. The cover will help protect the growing grass against chicken poop until they are ready for your birds to eat.
Grazing boxes offer a better solution to those raising their flock in the urban areas or suburban backyards. They provide chickens with fresh, green vegetation to supplement their staple diet. That said, you can make your own grazing box using a few pieces of wood and hardware cloth.
Below is a Pinterest friendly photo…. so you can pin it to your Chicken Board!!