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What plants will chickens eat?

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 

I am looking to plant a chicken friendly garden to use as feed for my girls. I have a lot of land and would like to cut my feed costs as much as I can so I am willing to plant anything that they WILL eat. I am having a hard time finding a list of what plants they can and will eat, mostly I just I find what they wont eat. If I can grow a nice sized chicken garden the girls will be able to spend as much time in it as they want until they clean it out.

 

Right now the only real foraging they get to do is early spring cleaning my veggies garden before I plant and in the fall for clean up of my garden when I am done harvesting it. This garden doesn't have any flowers, grains, herbs, fruit, or cover crops in it. So I'm not real sure what to plant just for them.

post #2 of 17

There is a thread on here somewhere about planting a chicken garden.

If I remember correctly, the thread had a very good selection of chicken-friendly plants that they'll eat.

Do a search on chicken garden or something like that and I'm sure you'll find it.

 

I have so much grass and bugs here that my chickens stay fat.

But one thing I know for sure is they LOVE my Hostas!  somad.gif

. . . Nothing that a little garden netting couldn't cure!

 

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Raising Katahdin meat sheep, Silkies, Guineas, Egg Layers, annual pig, Papillons, toy Poodle,

Cornish Rex cats, Musk Turtle, Kangal LGDs (and puppies) and Grt Pyr on 15 acres in the middle of nowhere.

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Raising Katahdin meat sheep, Silkies, Guineas, Egg Layers, annual pig, Papillons, toy Poodle,

Cornish Rex cats, Musk Turtle, Kangal LGDs (and puppies) and Grt Pyr on 15 acres in the middle of nowhere.

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post #3 of 17
Fresh, young tender grass works well. Clovers are great. Greens such as mustards, kale, turnips, cabbage, collards and so on.
Chance favors the prepared mind.
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Chance favors the prepared mind.
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post #4 of 17

If people grow it in a garden(and I'ts an above ground crop) then chances are, they'll eat it. If you want to go a little farther and grow things to harvest and then feed during other parts of the year, then soybeans are really good because they have the highest protein content of any non-animal source available(I think that's what I read, and you want to boil the soy beans before feeding). And another good one to grow are sunflower seeds. I couldn't find any that were black-oil, so I just bought a bag that was for sale as bird feed, and now I have a nice patch growing.

"The greatest fear for the future is that we forget the way God has led us in the past"
"Good, better, best. Never let it rest until your good is better and your better is best"

 

Someone died so you wouldn't have to, have you said thank you?

 

 

 

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"The greatest fear for the future is that we forget the way God has led us in the past"
"Good, better, best. Never let it rest until your good is better and your better is best"

 

Someone died so you wouldn't have to, have you said thank you?

 

 

 

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post #5 of 17

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by A.T. Hagan View Post

Fresh, young tender grass works well. Clovers are great. Greens such as mustards, kale, turnips, cabbage, collards and so on.

 

I planted those last fall and they love greens, turnips, collards, mustard greens, etc. I just couldn't keep enough of it for them. Clover well thats the first thing they go for and they love chickweed, that dreadful weed we seem to have growing everywhere we should have a nice lawn.

 

But I am open to ideas for new plants that reseed year after year as well

I have a large flock of Ameraucanas &  member of the Ameraucana Breeders Club
I have Black, Lavender, and Silver Ameraucanas. And for fun some BBS Olive Eggers

Keep your Friends Close and your enemies closer......

 

 

 

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I have a large flock of Ameraucanas &  member of the Ameraucana Breeders Club
I have Black, Lavender, and Silver Ameraucanas. And for fun some BBS Olive Eggers

Keep your Friends Close and your enemies closer......

 

 

 

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post #6 of 17

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by kathymarie85 View Post

 I have a lot of land and would like to cut my feed costs as much as I can so I am willing to plant anything that they WILL eat. 

 

Welcome to BYC!

 

They'll eat all the stuff mentioned.

 

But I'm curious if someone can speak to the financial issues. I suppose if you don't count labor it's feasible, but seed isn't free and feedstore feed is (sort of) cheap. They go thru the garden stuff soooo fast it seems you'd need to be working many, many acres to have an impact or savings. But I really don't know so.....

 

Anyone? 

 

 

post #7 of 17

 

Well, the possibility of you being able to reduce feed costs depends a lot on what you’re growing, for instance something like sunflowers, seed costs is a onetime thing, because you save some seed from your harvest for reseeding. I mentioned soybeans earlier because; the same thing applies with them. And they being so high in protein are a really valuable crop. It seems to me that, cutting costs by growing some of your own feed would not prove to be of much help until the second and progressive years, because of the fact that you have to buy seed the first year. However, if you were not to grow all the feed that you planed on feeding your chickens, then it probably wouldn’t prove to be of much benefit. I find that with feed so readily available and cheap(I get the higher protein layer pellets for $10 a 50# bag and raise bantams, so it lasts me a bit) I probably can’t manage to grow a feed that produces as complete nutrition as the feed I buy or as cheap. But, if I combine what I grow with things that I rummage around for, then there is an increasing possibility. For example, boiling and feeding fish that I catch(I like to fish)and getting old salad greens and other veggies that I find for free, bread also is readily available if you look around; if you combine things like that with what you grow, then you might just  come out on top.(I think that this would only work with a free-ranging flock, because otherwise you’ll have to buy minerals and supplements, witch they can pretty much supply for themselves if free-ranging.) I haven’t tried this yet, but I really want to and have put some thought into it. There is actually a method of feeding (I can’t recall what it’s called) where they only feed grains, preferably wheat and fish. I have to do more research in this method and see what I can find and add. This is just my thought.

"The greatest fear for the future is that we forget the way God has led us in the past"
"Good, better, best. Never let it rest until your good is better and your better is best"

 

Someone died so you wouldn't have to, have you said thank you?

 

 

 

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"The greatest fear for the future is that we forget the way God has led us in the past"
"Good, better, best. Never let it rest until your good is better and your better is best"

 

Someone died so you wouldn't have to, have you said thank you?

 

 

 

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post #8 of 17

We always grow a sunflower patch for our chickens. When its brutally hot here in the summer they all gather up underneath them and peck around, and later in the fall when the seed heads are full and drooping we chop them off and throw them to the girls. They LOVE plucking the seeds out! Plus they're pretty to look at :)

post #9 of 17

Here is something that should give you some ideas, I'm quoting from a book I've got. Here are a couple methods that I wish to integrate somehow into my own scenario.

 

The Worthington method: developed by Jim Worthington. This is simply that you allow hens ample greenstuff-this means allot of greenstuff, not just cabbage. You also let them have access to whole grain-wheat is best- and some high-protein food such as fish meal. Let them eat as much as they want of whatever they want, and you will find that they will eat a balanced diet, do not over eat, and lay plenty of eggs. What they eat will, in practice, average out at about 4 1/2 ounces of wheat a day each, and well under half an ounce of fish meal. For fish meal you can substitute any other high protein food: soymeal; chick peas; cracked beans; and meat meal or flakes.  I knew a man who used to get fish heads and guts from his fish monger, boil them up, and offer them to his hens.  They laid superb eggs. As for the whole grain, use good oats or barley if these are more plentiful than wheat in your area.  Other garden produce that contains protein and is good for hens include: sunflower seeds, especially if you husk and grind them: lupine seed, ground or whole; peanut seed; alfalfa meal; crushed or ground peas and beans.  If you feed your hens according to the Whorthington scheme, you must feed them on this diet from an early age and you must feed them from hoppers. All poultry must at all times have access to dust baths, fresh water, and sharp grit.  Also, lime-rich material, such as crushed seashells, is very good for them.

 

The Balfour method: (this method is especially good if your bids do not have access to free range).

If you do not want to let chickens run loose, you can still keep chickens, using the Balfour method-so named after Lady Eve Balfour, who invented it. With this method you will not need a compost pile, because the hen run is the compost pile.  You use an ordinary hen house.  In front of it or around it you have a scratching pen, which ideally should be sheltered from wind.  This becomes your “compost pile.”   You throw into this area all the vegetable matter you can get; the more, the better. All the kitchen scraps all the waste material from the garden, plenty of straw, bracken, spoiled hay, grass clippings, lawn mowings, everything you can lay your hands on goes into it. Your hens spend hours scrapping around in this materiel because bugs abound in it. Apart from their scratching pen you should have two grazing pens or three if you can afford the space, these are just fenced pens with gates arranged in such a way that the hens can be admitted access to one of the pens while being denied access to the other. The two pens should be put down to a grass, clover, and herb mixture. You allow the hens to run in one pen for two or three weeks until the grass is eaten right down, then you admit them to the other. Because the hens are doing most of their scratching in the scratching pen they should not tear up the grazing pens too severely, if you find that they do, you can limit their grazing to only a few hours a day. The Balfour method has several advantages. Even though your acreage is very small, your birds have access to herbage, at the same time the herbage is not lethally damaged by the hens scratching. You should clean out the scratching pen every so often.

 

You can also use the “chicken tractor” method. Where you rotate an open bottomed coop/pen onto fresh pasture/forage whenever the spot they’re on gets worn down, this allows them fresh greens, bugs and seeds.

 

I hope you get some ideas from this, and can use it to benefit yourself and your flock. 


Edited by fowlsessed - 4/25/12 at 2:13pm

"The greatest fear for the future is that we forget the way God has led us in the past"
"Good, better, best. Never let it rest until your good is better and your better is best"

 

Someone died so you wouldn't have to, have you said thank you?

 

 

 

Reply

"The greatest fear for the future is that we forget the way God has led us in the past"
"Good, better, best. Never let it rest until your good is better and your better is best"

 

Someone died so you wouldn't have to, have you said thank you?

 

 

 

Reply
post #10 of 17

Yeah, I had some old bird seed laying around and it had some black oil sunflower seeds in it.

I am growing some for the girls and will be planting them around the coop for them to eat.

I just can't imagine how many collards I'd have to plant in order to keep them fed?  Would probably be a LOT!

 

ƸӜƷ•.¸¸.•´¯`•.¸¸.☆

Raising Katahdin meat sheep, Silkies, Guineas, Egg Layers, annual pig, Papillons, toy Poodle,

Cornish Rex cats, Musk Turtle, Kangal LGDs (and puppies) and Grt Pyr on 15 acres in the middle of nowhere.

Reply

ƸӜƷ•.¸¸.•´¯`•.¸¸.☆

Raising Katahdin meat sheep, Silkies, Guineas, Egg Layers, annual pig, Papillons, toy Poodle,

Cornish Rex cats, Musk Turtle, Kangal LGDs (and puppies) and Grt Pyr on 15 acres in the middle of nowhere.

Reply
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