Chickens and Lawns

Hens have scaly, tough, clawed feet and they use them to scratch and dig. But they don’t particularly like to shred up turf. So, if you have a dense, lush lawn with no bare spots, then you can let your hens wander about with no worries at all. The hens will trot here and there, picking at bugs and seeds and grazing a bit on the grass.

I don’t have one of those lawns. There are bare spots. There are areas that are mostly crab grass, which means that in the winter there are dead tufts with dirt showing. Still, it doesn’t look too bad, does it?

It’s a large expanse. What harm can a few hens do?

Take another look at the photo. Do you see a red hen checking out the side of the barn? There’s a bit of loose soil there where the rain, coming off the roof, has pounded the ground.

A little scratching, a little rearranging, and it becomes this:

a dust wallow for a dozen hens.

It’s a good thing that nowhere on my list of gardening wishes is a pristine lawn.


  1. I think it’s been a couple of weeks since my girls had a nice dirt bath. We’ve had some evenly spaced rains that have kept the ground too wet. I’m not complaining, since we are in our worst drought ever, but imagine they are feeling itchy for a bath.

    • Get a kitty litter box and put in coarse sand and a cup of food-grade diatomaceous earth. That’s what is in the purple boxes you see on my cams. That’s what my girls bathe in when the ground is frozen or wet. They do appreciate it!

      • Thanks! I’ll see what I have that would work(instead of a litter box) got the sand and DE already.

  2. Can you hear my hysterical laughter Terry?
    Guess what my flock has been up to under our big Yew tree this winter? … oh my goodness, it’s a case of lawn? what lawn?!!!

    It’s a very good thing that I don’t wish for a perfect lawn – I’ll tidy it up before summer – and I have some very happy hens :-)


  3. How Cute is that! I just wish I could be down there watching those girls enjoy their dust bath and listen to their chatter.

  4. Don’t you love it when they pile up like that, no one willing to give up the best spot! Even the lowest on the pecking order will hunker down and not budge. The seem almost druck with the bliss of it. I only have 3 hens but they still do it.

  5. Ours go onto the lawn every winter to protect them from floods – we live by a river – the lawn comes back during the summer, but the weeds come back faster!

  6. It makes me laugh to see my white hen all brown with dirt, then after a few shakes she’s back to pristine white! My four hens have free run of the side yard which is about 15×30 when not in the coop, is all scratched up and brown though. I do hope some grass returns so they have some to munch on. They beg to go into the back yard which has plenty of grass but must be supervised.

  7. Looks like my house. Yes the side of my house. With the wet ground they found the corner of the house under the eaves is perfect for dust bathing. The problem they dig up my ornamental grasses. So here is my trick to prevent it. I soak the area with the water hose. After all they are not little pigs.

  8. My girls have sole use of an entire polytunnel, about 15 feet long, 3 feet wide and 6 feet high at the mid-point. The polytunnel obviously keeps the dirt dry and snow free all year round. It was intended for Brussels sprouts, purple sprouting broccoli and such like. But they took possession. O well. The lawn areas they access is a battleground as well. Roll on Spring!

  9. That was hilarious! lawn looks the same too…Oh well..maybe in my next life as I come back as a very rich English woman who has that gorgeous garden you visited….

  10. Love it!!! I cover my girls run with a plastic tarp. In these February days of above than average temps I love to watch my girls sun bathe!!!! The girls are digging holes in their pen to bathe!!! I love watching them and they look so content!! I love the way that they flip sand on to their backsides!!! So entertaining yet so educational!!!