1. Come check out hundreds of awesome coop pages (and a few that need suggestions) in our 2018 Coop Rating Project!

Anyone plant alfalfa or clover patches for their chickens?

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by West Central MO, Feb 3, 2009.

  1. West Central MO

    West Central MO In the Brooder

    Jan 29, 2009
    I was thinking of trying to plant some small <1 acre patches of either alfalfa and or red clover to let the chickens peck around in and get insects from this year. I have a few acres of fescue that is just mowed and I thought about establishing a "food plot" for my hens. Has anyone done this and where is the best source of say only 10 pounds of alfalfa seed that is already inoculated....

  2. CovenantCreek

    CovenantCreek Chicks Rule!

    Oct 19, 2007
    Franklin, TN
    I seeded a couple of my paddocks with clover a couple years ago -- I did it for the horses, though, not the chickens. I've been wanting to reseed some areas but the bags have a warning that the seed shouldn't be used for feed (it's treated with something to improve germination). Since the chickens may eat the seeds off the ground I don't want to take the chance.
  3. muddstopper

    muddstopper Songster

    Aug 23, 2008
    Murphy NC
    Clover is a legume like alfalfa and it is possible that the seeds have been innocculated with rhyzobia bacteria to speed up germination. This wont hurt the chickens if they eat it and the rhyzobia bacterial occurs naturally in the soil already. I wouldnt use it as a feed source in their feeders for the birds, but i wouldnt hesitate to broadcast the seed in their forage areas.

    If you have a area that isnt doing anything but just laying there, why not plant it in a renewable food source for the bird. I overseed my garden every year with rye. This year I am moving my chickens where they can take advantage of all that tall grass. I hope that between now and planting time they can strip the area bear of any vegetation and replace it with poop.
  4. farmerbrown

    farmerbrown In the Brooder

    Feb 3, 2009
    SW VA
    I have a 2- 2 acre fenced in yards for my chickens. The far end of it is a mix of hay, red clover, and white clover. If it’s good and warm they will be out in the clover that’s in the far end of there yard. On cooler they stay closer to there chicken coop because there in and out all day.

    The clover I have will get about 18” high in 2 weeks with good weather. It can be a bear to mow but the goats loves when I give them run of the chicken yard. I would give it a week or so after putting it out before the chickens get to it.
  5. WoodlandWoman

    WoodlandWoman Crowing

    May 8, 2007
    We over-seeded clover for our sheep, when we had them. The chickens were pastured with the sheep and still have access to that area. They now also have access to a couple of food plots with alfalfa, an assortment of greens, edible herbs and wild food plants. I've got some berries in there, too. It's a real hodge-podge of chicken nibbles. I've been adding extra plants or seeds to the area. I should paint a little sign that says, "Welcome chickens! Feed yourselves."

    And yet, they still refuse to stay out of my flower beds and the pots on the patio... [​IMG]
  6. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    Alfalfa doesn't compete super well with grass, I don't know how well it's going to do if you're just overseeding an already totally fescue plot. Farmers usually disc the field up before seeding alfalfa. White clover will compete well with lawn fescue, dunno about other clovers.

    Have you asked your local feedstore about seed. They'll often be willing to sell just 10 lbs out of bulk, or break a bag for you. If all else fails, gardening seed supply co's (especially the more organic oriented ones) sell alfalfa and clover in that sort of size packages, for use as cover crops in veg gardens.

    Good luck, have fun,

  7. digitS'

    digitS' Songster

    Dec 12, 2007
    ID/WA border
    An awful lot of seed is treated with fungicides these days. Just sayin' . . .

    My backyard has white clover, blue grass, and fescue (some weeds, too [​IMG]). You may be getting pretty good foraging off that fescue - I don't know which grass they are eating but it seems to be pretty high on my hens' chart.

    Yes, legumes would be a good idea but you can grow an enormous amount on an acre. Probably far more than you have chickens to eat it at, say, 15% to 30% of their diets. You would still be faced with mowing the acre.

    I agree with Pat, alfalfa wouldn't be best for overseeding. If you want to take the grass out, it may be a good choice. I've grown "fields" of alfalfa as small as one-half acre.


  8. farmerbrown

    farmerbrown In the Brooder

    Feb 3, 2009
    SW VA
    There are a few different types of clover. You have the 3 leaf ones that are white with a little pink and about 2 to 4 inches high that people have in there yards. I have a pasture clover that if left alone will hit about 18” tall and will put up a good fight with most grass once it gets a good start.

    I would sugest tilling a few strips and planting alfalfa or clover in them. Once they get going depending on what type you planted will put up a good fight with fescue.

    If you know any framers ask what verity’s work good in your neck of the woods. Might even get some cheaper off them then in a store.
  9. Kim_NC

    Kim_NC Songster

    Jan 27, 2009
    Mt Airy, NC
    Our pasture areas have large patches of white clover. The chickens love it.

    When they're still in the brooder at 10 - 14 days old, I start pulling clover and feeding it to them (along with grass blades) by sipping it with scissors. They quickly learn to eat greens that way. Of course, I start supplying grit at the same time.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by