How to Build Grazing Boxes for Hens



Purchase wood suitable for the outdoors.,
Cut your wood.,
Assemble the frame.,
Attach the roll’s free end to your frame.,
Continue attaching your cloth as you unroll.,
Trim the cloth.,
Determine where your box should go.,
Plant your seeds.,
Cover your seeds.,
Rinse the box after uncovering.

Since your box will be outside, keep in mind that it will be exposed to moisture and pests. To prevent water damage, stick with lumber from trees that are naturally resistant to rot, such as cedar or redwood.Buy heat-treated wood to avoid termites and other infestations without having to use chemicals that may harm your hens.A square box measuring 2’6” (0.8 m) on each side is adequate for anywhere from five to ten hens. For this, purchase a 2’ x 6’ x 10’ (0.6 x 1.8 x 3 m) board.
Larger or smaller boxes can be scaled accordingly to accommodate larger or smaller flocks.
When scaling for larger or smaller boxes, stick with 2×6’s, regardless of length. These should be thick enough to stand the test of time.;
, First, measure your 2x6x10 board lengthwise. Mark each quarter-length with a carpenter’s pencil or similar writing tool. Then saw your board at each mark to create four smaller pieces of equal length, with each one 2’6” (0.8 m).Keep in mind that lumber dimensions are determined when they are freshly cut. Actual dimensions may change as the wood dries and shrinks. Therefore, your 2x6x10 may not be exactly 10 feet long.Always measure the board’s exact length and divide by four to determine its quarter-lengths, rather than assuming each quarter-length will be 2’6” and ending up with one piece that falls short.

, Butt the sawed end of one quarter-piece against the face of another to form an L shape. Use a screw gun to attach the two pieces with two 4-inch wood screws. Repeat with each remaining piece to create your square frame.If working by yourself, use clamps to secure one piece at a time to your worktable as you drill another into it.
Alternatively, ask a partner to assist you in keeping one piece still by pushing it toward you from its far end, where their hands will be clear of any danger from screws., First, note that hardware cloth has two sides: a rough side and a smooth side. Now line up the roll’s free end with the top of one side to your box, making sure that the smooth side will face up as you unroll the cloth. Keep the hens’ feet safe from cuts by keeping the rough side faced down. Then:Adjust the cloth so it’s entirely on top of the wood, without any sharp ends projecting over the edge.
Staple or nail the hardware cloth to the top of your box’s side with poultry staples or finishing nails., Now that one end of the cloth is attached to one end of your box, begin unrolling the cloth along the box’s top. As you do, staple or nail the cloth along the top of each side to the box. Continue until you reach the far end of the box and do the same there.Always staple or nail as you unroll, rather than unroll the cloth all the way first. This should help you keep the cloth pulled taut between each staple/nail for a tighter, more secure fit.

, Once the cloth is attached to the top of each side to the box, use wire cutters to snip the roll free. Do your best to make your cuts over the wood, so the cloth’s sharp ends don’t project over the sides. If they do, use your hammer to tamp them into the wood so your hens don’t cut themselves on it.If your roll is wider than the box itself, go back along the sides and do the same. Trim any excess cloth from the frame and tamp any sharp free ends into the wood.

, The seeds you plant will need watering, so choose a spot that you can access easily. You don’t want your seeds’ roots to drown, though, so avoid areas prone to flooding or standing water. Additionally:Keep in mind that, once the grass you plant grows, it will become exhausted over time from continual grazing (possibly three to four months).To accommodate this without missing a beat, consider creating multiple paddocks areas so you can rotate grazing between boxes.

, Before you set your box down, prepare the soil. Give your seeds plenty of nutrients by topping or mixing it with a premium topsoil or composted manure. Then scatter your seeds by hand and cover them with a thin layer of topsoil or compost.Popular grasses for chicken grazing include alfalfa, barley, and wheat.
Boost the hens’ diet by also planting calendula, garlic, parsley, oregano, and sage.

, Once the seeds are planted, set your grazing box around the soil, with the hardware cloth on top. If you allow your chickens access to the area immediately, cover the box with a large sheet of clear plastic. Keep the hens from defecating in the box during the seeds’ stages, while still allowing them plenty of sunlight.The exact time it will take for your grass and herbs to grow high enough for grazing will vary depending on type, climate, and region. However, expect it to take a few weeks.
You will need to water the box’s soil periodically as it dries out, so however you cover it, make sure it can be removed and replaced easily for convenience’s sake.

, Once your grass and herbs have matured and grown high enough to reach the hardware cloth, remove the cover and let the hens have at it. At this point, their droppings can help feed the soil. Wait for it to dry on the hardware cloth and the edges of the box, then hose it off, into the box, when you water the plants.Too much can still be a bad thing, though, so inspect the plants whenever you water them.
If the leaves appear burned, hose the hardware cloth off from the side, keeping the stream level with the top of the box, instead of aiming from above.
This will help wash some of the dropping over the side of the box, instead of into it.

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