Chicks Dig Pasture

Haha! I know I do.

Today we put our 4 week old baby laying hens in their outside tractor. We’re trying something new this time by putting these little foragers to work creating compost while keeping our grain costs down.


We were inspired by Geoff Lawton’s video, “Chicken Run on Steroids“.  If you haven’t seen it already, watch it…. perhaps it will inspire you to do something similar? We have 16 laying hens so we will do a pared down version of Lawton’s method during our warm summer and into fall. We plan to start collecting leftover vegetable matter from a local boarding school and will keep adding 5 gallon buckets of kitchen scraps over the week.

Then, in a week or two (these little ladies are still pretty small) we’ll move the pen, keeping the already scratched pile within their electrified area so they can keep working it while creating a new pile on top of the poop-rich area under the roosting bars. Each week (or so) the pen and net will move creating several already turned piles. We may use this to enhance the soil in place (looking to reclaim this area as garden) or use it as compost in our existing beds.

I’m so impressed with these birds, they really are magic, somehow they are born knowing how to forage and scratch. We provide them with fresh food they LOVE as well as fresh pasture and they work for us breaking down, pooping and aerated the compost. Win win!


They’ll be making a dustbath of that dirt patch on the right in no time. We’ll hook up a small nipple waterer and a hanging food bucket tomorrow.


They look a little awestruck now but tomorrow they will have combed through the whole area.