Alfalfa, clover, Timothy planting

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by pfost262, Mar 26, 2017.

  1. pfost262

    pfost262 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I am moving my coop in a month or two to a unused piece of my backyard about the size of I'd say maybe 50x20. Right now there is grass there but I would like to plant some greens for the hens to continuously graze on, Alfalfa most likely. I was wondering if anyone had experience in this? I wasn't sure if I have to rototill all the current grass and start new with alfalfa or do I just throw it over the current grass and work it a bit into the soil? Any other tips about growing this stuff would be helpful. Thanks!!
     
  2. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener True BYC Addict

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    What is your planting zone? Still getting hard freezes? If you are, you could over seed it with white or red clover. That is a high nitrogen feed, and chickens love it. Also attractive to bees. From my reading, chickens don't like alfalfa as much as they do clover. I'd also consider wheat, rye, or oats, and I might prefer those to timothy. What ever you plant, they will enjoy it. Perhaps you could Plant a deer forage crop which includes grains and brassica. As for tilling versus over seeding the existing grass, you might call your county agricultural extension office and ask to speak to the agent who best could advise you for recommendations specific to your climate. Also, consider: growing frames so the birds can graze without destroying the plants. Between those frames, you could give them a deep litter in that run. They would have the best of both worlds.
     
  3. Howard E

    Howard E Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Where are you located approximately, and how many birds on this 50' x 20' area?
     
  4. Folly's place

    Folly's place Chicken Obsessed

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    Also consider the Pheasants Forever seed mixtures, and I agree, check with your Extension people. Mary
     
  5. pfost262

    pfost262 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I live on Long Island, NY, and I'll have around 15-20 birds give or take.
     
  6. Howard E

    Howard E Chillin' With My Peeps

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    OK, here is what I would suggest.

    Section off your poultry pasture area into at least 4 or 5 zones. Say 10' x 20'. Confine them to one zone only until they peck it to death and turn the green, green grass brown and hopefully kill it. While they are doing that, let the other zones grow. When the first one is dead, move them over to fresh ground. It will be taller grass and full of bugs weeds, etc. Turn them loose on it. Then take the dead zone and plant something green on it.

    Today that might be a solid seeding of sweet peas. While they are mowing down another zone, the dead zone recovers with something green. Keep moving on down the line, killing, planting and replacing.

    By the end of the summer, you should have all zones growing something fast and furious. Perhaps a patch of sunflowers? Towards mid summer, you can switch to more cold tolerant stuff like mixes of oats, rye, wheat and winter peas. Perhaps forage turnips or tillage radishes?

    For now I'd avoid slow growing perennials like alfalfa, clover and timothy in favor of fast growing annuals. You might convert one or two zones eventually, but safe to assume with a small area like you have, they will destroy it PDQ.

    But do manage it as a rotation of several small zones vs. one large one.
     

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