The short answer? Yes. The long answer follows, starting with it depends on how big your lawn is and how many chickens you have.
If you have a lush, thick lawn with no bare areas, then your chickens (providing there aren’t too many) and your lawn can both thrive together. Chooks eat slugs, bugs, leaves, weeds and grass clippings, plus aerate the soil. If there are some bare patches in your lawn you can put some wire mesh over them to stop your chickens exacerbating the problem and allow time for repair. Of course, selecting the right grass variety for your area is extremely important to give you the best possible chance of success if you want chickens roaming on it. Ultimately, you’ll have to monitor your lawn to determine if action is required.
Chickens like to dig holes and take dust baths, which could lead to your lawn looking more like a chipping zone on a golf course. However, you can largely avoid this by using some sort of enclosure or deterrent.
Perhaps the simplest method is to fence off areas you don’t want your chickens on or in. If that doesn’t suit, you could install a large coop for them to run about in. This will likely kill off the lawn inside, however you’ll provide your feathered friends a fixed home that’s separated from your garden beds.
Chooks will pick at your veggies and fruit, plus their fresh manure contains pathogens, so if you’re thinking of free-range, place some wire cages over these areas to prevent damaging attacks and contamination problems.
If you do notice your chickens are digging where they’re not welcome, you can construct a kitty litter area or box containing coarse sand. This then acts as a place for them to scratch about and have a dust bath.
Another alternative is to employ a lawn tractor (also known as a chicken mower). This gives you maximum control over your chickens’ access to your lawn. Many chicken lovers adopt this approach, as it offers a good compromise. These movable pens, often with wire at the base, allow you to supply your chooks with fresh grass, while the pens prevent excessive digging.
Chooks eat many damaging pests and create a free, nutrient-rich organic fertiliser. Beware though, due to its high nitrogen content, fresh manure can burn your lawn if it’s too concentrated in one area. Plus, the manure harbours pathogens, so beware if you have children, or pets apart from chickens. It’s for this reason fresh chook poo is no good for applying to your veggie patch, either. It must be composted first.
Granular fertiliser and chickens don’t mix. Chickens can peck and pick at granules buried in your lawn. The best idea is to not spread granular fertiliser where your chickens roam. If you do want to fertilise in these areas, you must make sure the granules have completely dissolved before you allow your chickens to return to these areas.