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Cover crop for chickens

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 

Hi,

I want to plant a fall cover crop for my garden, primarily for the benefits to the soil. But, I thought a side benefit would be for the chickens to free range in it. They love to eat my pole bean leaves.

A couple of the crops recommended by seed companies, vetch and Austrian field peas, have seeds that are reportedly toxic to livestock!

Does anyone have advice on what fall cover crops to plant and not to plant for chickens?
Thanks.

post #2 of 9

I'm going to plant Winter Rye.  It's cheap, great for the soil, and I can feed it to the chickens.  I just picked up 25 lbs yesterday.  I won't let them free range on it, but I'll cut some down and feed it to them.

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Buff Orpingtons, Barnevelders, Speckled Sussex, and Black Copper Marans.  Cornish Cross from March-November.  Wish List - Dark Cornish
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post #3 of 9

Would they be able to free range on it?  I want to plant something in their run that they can forage whenever they want it.  I was thinking winter wheat.

Breeding Welsummers and Barnevelders.

 

Having an Icelandic in the coop is like having a 2 year old in the house - they are into everything and don't follow the rules.

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Breeding Welsummers and Barnevelders.

 

Having an Icelandic in the coop is like having a 2 year old in the house - they are into everything and don't follow the rules.

I have zero chicken willpower.

 

Join us for the Easter Hatch-a-long!

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post #4 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by new2chooks 

Would they be able to free range on it?  I want to plant something in their run that they can forage whenever they want it.  I was thinking winter wheat.


Sure you could.  I would plant just regular wheat in the run.  Wheat has a lot of good things in it for chickens.  Winter Rye is a much better for the soil.  I considered planting wheat in my run last Fall, but never got too it.  You could go to the feed mill, get a bag of uncleaned wheat, and plant that.  At my feed mill, uncleaned wheat is less than $5 for 50lbs.  I would let the wheat get a good start before turning your chickens lose on it.  They'll have it down to bare ground quiclky if it didn't have a good start.  If you let it get around a foot tall, it should last awhile.


Edited by bigredfeather - 8/18/09 at 12:16pm
Buff Orpingtons, Barnevelders, Speckled Sussex, and Black Copper Marans.  Cornish Cross from March-November.  Wish List - Dark Cornish
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Buff Orpingtons, Barnevelders, Speckled Sussex, and Black Copper Marans.  Cornish Cross from March-November.  Wish List - Dark Cornish
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post #5 of 9

Well, would it be okay if I planted rye then?  They roam our orchard, so good for soil is good for trees.

Breeding Welsummers and Barnevelders.

 

Having an Icelandic in the coop is like having a 2 year old in the house - they are into everything and don't follow the rules.

I have zero chicken willpower.

 

Join us for the Easter Hatch-a-long!

Reply

Breeding Welsummers and Barnevelders.

 

Having an Icelandic in the coop is like having a 2 year old in the house - they are into everything and don't follow the rules.

I have zero chicken willpower.

 

Join us for the Easter Hatch-a-long!

Reply
post #6 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by new2chooks 

Well, would it be okay if I planted rye then?  They roam our orchard, so good for soil is good for trees.


Either would be fine.

Buff Orpingtons, Barnevelders, Speckled Sussex, and Black Copper Marans.  Cornish Cross from March-November.  Wish List - Dark Cornish
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Buff Orpingtons, Barnevelders, Speckled Sussex, and Black Copper Marans.  Cornish Cross from March-November.  Wish List - Dark Cornish
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post #7 of 9

My lawn is mostly perennial rye grass. Although my chickens don't go there, I have given them cuttings from the lawnmower.

Also, I have Alfalfa growing between my front fence and the road. Often I go grab a few handfuls of alfalfa and throw that to my chickens. They love it!

A former partner of mine had been a farmer in Nebraska as a young man. He told me that after his Winter Wheat got up a little bit, he would turn his cattle into the field of Winter Wheat. The cows would eat it down part-way and that would make the wheat "stool-out" more and provide him with a heavier crop of wheat.

idunno

post #8 of 9
Thread Starter 

It looks like I've got a few options for a dual purpose ground cover.

Winter rye may be the best option as a soil amender.

post #9 of 9

What about oats or clover? I'm thinking about a mix. I hadn't thought about rye; it looks like a good choice.

One thing is for sure; a sheep is not a creature of the air. ... Notice that they do not so much fly as...plummet. ... As for flight, its body is totally unadapted to the problems of aviation.
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One thing is for sure; a sheep is not a creature of the air. ... Notice that they do not so much fly as...plummet. ... As for flight, its body is totally unadapted to the problems of aviation.
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