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Cover crop for free ranging

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 
Guys, i tilled my garden under early, we had a baby and it got neglected! Anyways i was fixing to plant some wheat for a cover crop, mainly to build a thatch layer for weed control next spring. I thought Id ask if wheat or some other small grain or even a mustard or radish would be a better choice for the chickens? What might they prefer to maybe nibble on or scavenge in? Ill kill it off before time to plant the garden. They are on full unlimited feed, so whatever they find in the garden is just for pleasure.
post #2 of 7
What zone are you in?

What are your needs? Ie, do you want cover crop, ground cover, or green manure?

big_smile.png this is my favorite subject lol wink.png

Clovers are excellent; hardy, great protein, nitrogen fixers for soil, green manure for tilling under for a garden.

Field peas are great chicken snacking, fast growing, easy to get rid of but create a nice mat.

Wheat is great feed choice for chickens but will self sow if it goes to seed and can create a weed in itself wink.png

Here's an awesome site to get seed, and TONS of options, but this one has a very nice mix, just for chooks smile.png


http://www.groworganic.com/omega-3-chicken-forage-blend-irrigated.html
Edited by shortgrass - 11/6/15 at 5:04am
http://www.backyardchickens.com/t/990759/chickens-in-permaculture

http://www.backyardchickens.com/t/1008185/lets-talk-relocation

3rd generation of Colorado ranchers, raising organic alfalfa, corn, Red Angus cattle, Suffolk sheep and of course, chickens! Comitted to a lifetime of health without chemicals, I am entirely dependent on what God has given me to nurture soil, plant, and animal. Sharing...
Reply
http://www.backyardchickens.com/t/990759/chickens-in-permaculture

http://www.backyardchickens.com/t/1008185/lets-talk-relocation

3rd generation of Colorado ranchers, raising organic alfalfa, corn, Red Angus cattle, Suffolk sheep and of course, chickens! Comitted to a lifetime of health without chemicals, I am entirely dependent on what God has given me to nurture soil, plant, and animal. Sharing...
Reply
post #3 of 7
Thread Starter 
I live in central texas, so its warm enough to establish about anything right now. I work at the fertilizer dealer and ive been moving my coop around the garden. so i dont need the green manure.
I mainly wanted a thick groundcover so i could "strip till" and plant my garden next spring to help with weed control. I will roundup it before it seeds out. But thought if my chickens like something better than wheat i may go for it. Maybe some tillage radish to help with compaction?
post #4 of 7
Radishes would be a great option for that. I had pod radishes that I used this spring as weed deterrent, then I pulled them as needed to plant new crops. The nice thing about those is the chickens LIVED the tops, and if they got big enough, they turned into huge bushes with delicious pods.

That and the bonus of not needing round up. I have to speak up about the round up, as I've spent the better part of 20 years detoxifying my family's ranch from 3 generations of damage from it. There are better options than round up, especially if you're feeding animals or yourself off if this soil.

Ok, that said wink.png

Tilling under is an option, but of you want something quick and easy that won't come back as a weed, the radishes, peas, and rye or wheat are good choices. The wheat and rye can just be cut before setting seed and fed green to chickens; great fiber.

You have a lot if options in a nice warm zone, lol, I have winter rye and Austrian peas up, but won't see much more than that until March tongue.png
http://www.backyardchickens.com/t/990759/chickens-in-permaculture

http://www.backyardchickens.com/t/1008185/lets-talk-relocation

3rd generation of Colorado ranchers, raising organic alfalfa, corn, Red Angus cattle, Suffolk sheep and of course, chickens! Comitted to a lifetime of health without chemicals, I am entirely dependent on what God has given me to nurture soil, plant, and animal. Sharing...
Reply
http://www.backyardchickens.com/t/990759/chickens-in-permaculture

http://www.backyardchickens.com/t/1008185/lets-talk-relocation

3rd generation of Colorado ranchers, raising organic alfalfa, corn, Red Angus cattle, Suffolk sheep and of course, chickens! Comitted to a lifetime of health without chemicals, I am entirely dependent on what God has given me to nurture soil, plant, and animal. Sharing...
Reply
post #5 of 7

There's a forage type turnip called 7top. Small tuber but lots of foliage growth.

Radish, turnips, beets, peas, buckwheat, annual rye are all things that won't have to be eradicated.

 

I've been having problems with smartweed taking over the property. I plan on eradicating it in the spring with vinegar but in the meantime I wanted to plant something for the chickens that won't be around next year so rather than plant the clover and alfalfa I usually do, I've gone the annual rye, radish, turnip, pea route.

NPIP 43-813

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts.

Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime.”                  Mark Twain

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NPIP 43-813

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts.

Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime.”                  Mark Twain

Reply
post #6 of 7
Thread Starter 
I sewed some triticale for my cover crop, in my experince its alot more palatable for cattle so maybe the chickens will like it. Anyways my feet wont get muddy all winter. I havent found a reasonable priced source for any raddishes and stuff.
post #7 of 7

I get most of my seeds from Hummert, International. They deal with small packets but also wholesale large quantities. I usually buy in pound to 10 pound bags depending on the size of the seed.

 

I'm fortunate to have a retail outlet about 20 minutes from my house so they'll order whatever I want and I don't have to pay shipping.

 

https://www.hummert.com/product-list?c=90A&cn=Wild+Game+Plots

 

Not everything they carry shows up online for some reason.

You could call them and ask about the 7-top turnip. Just tell them it is for animal forage and they may be able to find it.

Ask for a catalog too.

https://www.hummert.com/browse

NPIP 43-813

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts.

Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime.”                  Mark Twain

Reply

NPIP 43-813

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts.

Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime.”                  Mark Twain

Reply
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