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What Winter Grasses Can I Plant for my Chickens?

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 

I live in zone 7, in the west Tennessee area.


My chickens have plenty of grass and fresh weeds to munch on right now, but come winter time, the grasses we currently have in our lawn will die.


I was thinking on overseeding with winter grass so my gals will have something to munch on this winter.


What would be good for this?


Have others of you grown winter grasses or other plants for your feathered children's winter diets?

Barry is father to 21 hens, 3 cockerels, 2 cats and a currently unknown number of babies born today, Nov 10, 2011!
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Barry is father to 21 hens, 3 cockerels, 2 cats and a currently unknown number of babies born today, Nov 10, 2011!
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post #2 of 7
Thread Starter 

Let me clarify one thing with this question.


My hens have a 7 1/2 foot by 13 foot, fenced and roofed chicken run, and a small henhouse inside that chicken yard, and they are fed plenty of layer feed and fresh water.


But once a day -- only the last hour of the day -- we let the hens out to roam the larger yard.   During that hour, they peck at the plentiful grass in the yard, and eat all the bugs in the area.   I think this is the happiest hour of the day for them.   When the sun sets, they dutifully go back to their chicken run to sleep in their protected environment.   All we have to do is close the gate after them.


It is the greater yard that I am thinking about seeding for a winter grass.   We seldom get snow, and they look so forward to their free range time, that I'd really like to make sure they always have some fresh grass to munch on when they get time out of their coop.

Barry is father to 21 hens, 3 cockerels, 2 cats and a currently unknown number of babies born today, Nov 10, 2011!
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Barry is father to 21 hens, 3 cockerels, 2 cats and a currently unknown number of babies born today, Nov 10, 2011!
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post #3 of 7

Clovers
Buckwheat
Purslane
Plantain
Dandelion
Timothy
Alfalfa
Romaine
Wheat
Oats


Our flock destroyed my container garden of herbs one winter - parsley, chives, sage, sorrel, rosemary, basil, garlic, thyme, oregano, tarragon


Edited to add:    legumes like alfalfa and clover are higher than grasses are in omega-3 fatty acids


Edited by keljonma - 9/10/08 at 12:57pm
post #4 of 7

The folks at Peaceful Valley carry a seeding mix specifically for free-range chickens! I plan to try it next year, on the part of my yard where my girls are allowed to range in the late afternoon. 

For this winter, I plan to grow lettuce indoors for them.  I have two flats of the six-packs that annuals come in, and I rotate them so that as the plants get old in one flat, the other one is coming along with new plants.  Lettuce is easy to start all year round indoors under fluorescent lights, with a timer set for 14 hours of light.  Once the lettuce seedlings have one or two sets of true leaves, transplant them to one plant per cell in the six-packs.  Keep them well-watered and they'll produce for a long time. 

Pick off individual leaves for your chickens -- I put a handful of lettuce leaves in a suet feeder cage and let the girls peck at them for a treat.  Eventually the plants will get old and the leaves will start to taste bitter, but my chickens dont seem to mind that. They just love the lettuce no matter what.

post #5 of 7

Cool weather greens, like kale, chard, spinach, beets and turnips are good, too.  My chickens love chard, even when there are lots of other foods to choose from.  Parsley will stay green and viable, even with snow covering it.

post #6 of 7

Thanks for the tip on Peaceful Valley!

love, chickiebaby
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love, chickiebaby
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post #7 of 7

Marshall Rye grass is good and will grow in your area.  It's like $20 for a 50# sack and that's a lot of seed.  It will stand up good to lots of wear and tear.

For all things chicken go here: http://msucares.com/poultry/diseases/index.html
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For all things chicken go here: http://msucares.com/poultry/diseases/index.html
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